Updated November 17, 2022 - 11:59 am
New court documents filed this week give more details on Tony Hsieh’s final days in Connecticut before a house fire that fatally injured the Zappos founder.
Since Hsieh’s death, his family and business associates have leveled accusations against each other in lengthy legal battles over creditor’s claims against Hsieh’s estate. Court documents have detailed Hsieh’s erratic behavior in the months before his death, when he was malnourished, barely slept and was abusing ketamine and nitrous oxide.
Tony Hsieh was 46 when he died on Nov. 26, 2020, from injuries suffered in a Connecticut house fire.
Hsieh’s family has alleged that the late tech mogul was being taken advantage of by friends and business associates in Nevada and Park City, Utah. Meanwhile, lawyers for Tony Lee, Hsieh’s longtime friend and financial manager, have alleged in court records that Hsieh’s brother Andrew Hsieh used money from his brother’s estate for personal expenses following Hsieh’s death.
Andrew Hsieh was overseeing his brother’s estate with Tony Hsieh’s father, Richard Hsieh, until a District Court judge granted an order in July allowing Andrew Hsieh to resign as the estate’s co-administrator, court records show.
Attorneys for Lee and Hsieh’s estate did not reply to a request for comment.
Andrew Hsieh claimed that as his brother’s behavior worsened, he began to plan “quiet trips” for Tony Hsieh to leave Park City and “be away from the people who were exploiting him and enabling his continued decline,” lawyers for Hsieh’s family wrote in court documents filed Monday in the case between Lee and Hsieh’s estate.
On Nov. 1, 2020, Tony Hsieh left Utah for Connecticut “with a small group of friends,” and “was able to significantly curb” his nitrous oxide use, according to court documents.
“His companions describe seeing Tony beginning to smile and laugh again,” lawyers for Hsieh’s family wrote. “This was a far cry from his prior agitated and obsessive state brought on by his excessive nitrous oxide abuse.”
The house fire broke out on Nov. 18, 2020, less than three weeks after Hsieh left for Connecticut.
Lee sued Tony Hsieh’s estate in April 2021, seeking nearly $7 million from a breached contract. Other creditors’ claims against the estate included a $40,000 claim for a custom ceiling brain prototype and a $30 million creditor’s claim from the former director of operations for Nacho Daddy.
According to court records, Tony Hsieh’s line of credit reached $250 million before his death as he planned elaborate projects in Park City, including a theme park, dubbed Country Zero, where visitors would use tarot cards to gain entry and exchange seashells for food, hot air balloon rides and spa days.
On Tuesday, Lee filed documents opposing a motion from Tony Hsieh’s estate for a protective order, which aims to block the release of certain documents during the discovery process. The estate is attempting to prevent Lee from accessing documents that include a record of Andrew Hsieh’s “use of Tony Hsieh’s assets for his own personal benefit,” Lee’s lawyers wrote in the opposition documents.
Lee accused Andrew Hsieh of honoring some contracts his brother made in the months before his death, but canceling others “that did not benefit him directly.”
Attorneys for Lee also argued in the filing that the documents should be released because of public interest in the case.
“This is especially true as the Estate continues to sue and smear the names of Tony Hsieh’s closest friends and family in an effort to wrongfully line their own pockets,” attorneys wrote in the opposition filing.