Plot thickens: Halsey Minor claims outrage over foreclosure
Claiming that he withheld his mortgage payments to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as part of an intentional strategy, financially troubled millionaire Halsey Minor lashes out at the condition of the mansion in a new story in the Williamsburg Gazette.
In the story, Minor talks of squatters living in the 1755 dwelling, of a "caved-in" wall, and suggests the he might have to remove the entire roof to find a leak that has allegedly been causing water damage. If he's right, it wouldn't be the first time someone sold Minor a leaky dwelling. And it wouldn't be the first time he fought back.
Five years ago, Minor plunked down $20 million for a modernist house in the tony Los Angeles community of Bel Air. Within two years, Minor was able to convince an arbitrator that the seller had hoodwinked him by failing to disclose various defects, and thus Minor won an award of $5.2 million.
Minor hints in the new Gazette article that he'll employ a similarly forceful strategy–- that may include bankrupting the company he used to buy the estate–- to rectify what he sees as misbehavior by the Foundation, which he alleges to owe just $3.5 million on a $17.2 million purchase price.
"They should focus their energies on arresting the tragic decline of Colonial Williamsburg," says the ever-quotable Minor, adding that the planned February 15 foreclosure sale will happen "in their dreams."
The Foundation points out that Minor, like most real estate buyers, was given a "substantial" due-diligence period in which to inspect the property prior to his 2007 purchase.
Raised in Charlottesville as the scion of a family that made substantial contributions to the University of Virginia, Minor went on to help launch such successful companies as CNet and Salesforce.com and build up a net worth once estimated in the vicinity of $400 million.
However, after an autumn 2008 freeze on his $27.5 million credit line by Merrill Lynch, Minor has been embroiled in a multi-year series of creditor lawsuits–- including the loss of a $1.5 million deposit on a new Gulfstream jet, the recent loss of his planned 10-story Landmark hotel in downtown Charlottesville, and a statement by the California authorities, at $13 million, he is the Golden State's greatest tax delinquent.
A separate report in the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reveals that Minor has tax problems at Carter's Grove too. The Daily alleges he owes nearly $22,000 on the property to James City County for the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011.
Accusing a Hook reporter last year of tarnishing his reputation in his hometown, Minor demanded that all questions go through his publicist, Aaron Curtiss. An emailed request to Curtiss last week for comment on the Williamsburg situation did not, however, result in a reply.
–updated 10:21am, Tuesday, February 1 with Minor's measure of the indebtedness and the purchase price as well as the unpaid tax allegation