Christie's toppled: Jury hands Minor $8 million victory

news-minorMinor just won a big one.

After a two-week trial in a federal court in San Francisco, jurors have awarded Internet millionaire and Charlottesville hotel builder Halsey Minor over $8 million in his lawsuit against Christie's, a rebuke to the auction house and a change of outcome for the frequent litigant.

"We have a verdict," scrawled the foreperson on Friday, May 21, at 1:51pm as the jury found that Christie's committed fraud and conversion against Minor and awarded him $8.57 million. The jury did, however, grant Christie's, in its counterclaim, $1.5 million for breach of contract when Minor declined to pay for art he purchased at auction.

"I guess we can scratch the Halsey owes number down some," Minor jots in an email to a reporter in reference to past stories suggesting that Minor might owe creditors as much as $60 million.

Minor has recently lost lawsuits to an arm of Merrill Lynch ($21.6 million) and to the Sotheby's auction house ($6.7 million) and been named California's leading tax delinquent. He remains embroiled in suits revolving around the construction-halted Landmark hotel on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall, and he is waging a battle for control of the Hialeah horse race track in Florida.

At issue in the recent trial were seven Richard Prince paintings Minor had lent Christie’s to sell for around $25 million. “By the time the artworks were returned," Minor complained, "they had declined in value significantly.”

Christie’s claimed that Minor didn’t hold clear title to the artworks because they were allegedly pledged to secure a credit line loan from Merrill and that he committed fraud and breach of contract because he “knew” he couldn’t pay the $12.2 million he bid for auction-bought paintings, including “A Rearing Stallion” by Sir Anthony van Dyck, “A Passing Shower in the Yellowstone Canyon” by Thomas Moran, and a work by French impressionist Mary Cassatt.

A prepared statement from Christie's lauded the portion of the jury verdict that went the company's way and hinted that an appeal of the fraud ruling may lie in the future.

–story updated Monday, May 24 with Christie's view

(an early version of this story misidentified the artist Richard Prince)


You the same gasbag I sell my foodstamps to?

Hey Hawes -

I have something to say, but I won't even bother. Fix your comments section.

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You obviously didn't live here when the Radisson Hotel deal went south. While the circumstances were somewhat different, the end result was the same. The city taxpayers finished building the Radisson Hotel (now called Omni).

And...... when did the hotel on the mall fall into bankruptcy? I thought it was just a business deal gone bad between partnets?

How come Halsey Minor hasn't declared bankruptcy? Or has he, and no one will acknowledge it?

Now, what about the friggin' eyesore on the downtown mall?

Are Hawes and Halsey now getting along? Perhaps they've formed a bond amidst all of these lawsuits and their coverage.

I wish you people would stop worrying about the hotel on the mall. It's just a matter of time before the city adopts the red headed child and finishes it with taxpayer money. Maybe the city can then name it "Omni II". :)

Hawes, you call Halsey a hotel builder in this article. He's erected a giant FAIL. No hotel... Hair model maybe. But he's not a hotel builder yet.

I love how folks like gassy whine about the money spent by the city to finish the Radisson without recognizing the positive economic impact that hotel has had for the city and downtown. The tourism, employment, ancillary services, and increased viability of the mall mean the city has easily gained more tax $$ and other benefits than outlay. Why do you think the west end of the mall is commercially more active than the east end? The Omni. Gassy and his ilk need to get over it and move on.

The next episode in the life and times of Halsey Minor - who needs TV when we've got this real life drama series based in Charlottesville.

Wondering when the movie crews will arrive to film this, could be a boost for our economy, but perhaps, not the one we wished for.

--thanks for the latest update.

His mom has a tattoo that says "Son"
At museums he's allowed to touch the art

Halsey Minor is the most interesting man in the world.

OK, Hypocratic Oath ... let's start over. I said above, "it's just a matter of time". I didn't say the city was ready to move on this right now. I didn't say any of the city councilors were ready or advocating the purchase right now. I still think, given enough time, the city will use the same lame excuses they used on the Radisson for saving and finishing the mall hotel at the taxpayers expense. One of those lame excuses being that the downtown mall would fail if the city didn't take over and finish the Omni.

By the way, have you seen the chaos on the mall so far this spring? The police have to chase large groups of trouble makers from one end of the mall to the other... all night long. I talked to a teacher Thursday afternoon who said she, her husband and her children would never be returning to the downtown mall again. They had a group of these wannabe thugs surround them last weekend with all sorts of racial slurs and threats of bodily harm while walking to the parking garage. It's gonna get worse.

I wonder if that was the same group of people that started all that mess at the Fashion Square Mall. Or is it just getting worse. It's a shame that anyone has to deal with that.

The mention of the wannabe thugs threatening and assaulting mall-goers was to say the mall could still fail, new hotels or not. Maybe I should have connected the dots better for you. :)

GSOE you lack of understanding of bankruptcy law and how failed assets are disposed. The asset would have to be abandoned before the city could do anything. I would buy it at auction for a $1 before that could occur. Others would pay much more for the existing structure at auction then I would. The city will never have a shot at this asset.

But speculate away GSOE, the facts have never slowed you down before.

I liked this Halsey Minor quote from a previous Hook article:

"ââ?¬Å?I’m anything but broke,” says Minor. ââ?¬Å?My net worth is double in two years what it was before.”"

Zero doubled is zero. And it is even worse for negative numbers.

Actually I did live during the Radisson mess GSOE, however the current hotel is part of a Atlanta bank seizure by the government- since the bank is now government owned and the loan against the building still exists; bankruptcy would be the most likely but not only method of asset divestiture. It could be sold at auction if the loan isn't satisfied by Minor. I could explain to you with why this is different because of where the construction stopped and the Radisson debt structure wasn't in disarray like it is now but you wouldn't listen or care.

Further you need to calculate the political cost of the Radisson misadventure and ask some of the councilors of the time if it didn't cost them at the ballot box. Or you could simply recognize the fact that the mall doesn't need this structure as much as it thought it needed the Radisson back in the day. Or the fact that actual current ownership could prevent any action by the city which could be quickly trumped by the federal government.

Then consider the state of the city's current fiances and see if they could even afford another financial misadventure. They can't and they won't do it.

Or you could tell me why the two hotels are the same situation and name any councilor that has uttered one word that the city would even want to have such a burden in the first place.

Another excellent reply, TheNative! A lot of these people who have moved to Charlottesville in the last decade or two have no clue as to the prior history of this seemingly self destructive city. All they know is they can walk on a few brick to get to their $12.00 glass of red wine.

After the city adopts the unfinished hotel by whatever means possible or necessary, I am gonna remind these people, "I TOLD YA SO!"

I'm confused, Sean. Won't the city finishing the new hotel on the taxpayer's dime also bring in the tourism, employment, ancillary services, and increased viability of the mall, meaning the city has easily gained more tax $$ and other benefits than outlay. Just like the Radisson (Omni) did? :)

Don't worry Sean GSOE is always confused, it's just refreshing when he admits it.

And the oil is still pouring into the gulf of mexico eco-system at an alarming rate.

The city should use its conections to get the federal government to move on settling this issue so that they can get it done and reclaim the publicly owned allyway.

Once the federal govt steps away they should condenm it for blight and sell it to somone who actually has the cash to back up their egotisical assertions.

Stop the opening of the champagne ...

While there is the cited Christie's verdict from May 21st there is today's action of May 24th: A judge ruled in favor of Sotheby's against Minor in the amount of $6M+.

Monday May 24, 2010: 'A judge today told cash-strapped Internet tycoon Halsey Minor to make good on the $6.6 million-plus he owes Sotheby's for reneging on his winning bids for three paintings.

Manhattan federal Judge Barbara Jones authorized the New York City Sheriff's Office to seize and sell off anything it can -- except for Minor's art collection -- to satisfy his debt to the auction house.

Jones also ordered the so-called "bad boy of Silicon Valley" to appear for a deposition in San Francisco on Thursday to answer questions about what remains of his once-staggering wealth.'

All of this also ignores Minor's current status as the largest single individual tax delinquent in the State of California @ $13M+ (and interest growing) .. see

you probably mean Richard Prince not Richard Price

How about the eyesore called Charlottesville? A bit of hundred foot tall wallpaper surrounding the place might pretty-up the watcha-ma-call-it valley and create the illusion that tax dollars aren't really wasted as wantonly as they actually are.

I at least wish the news industry would grab a different photo of Halsey what's-his-face. I'm tired of the one above where he looks like he's singing "Ode To An Ugly Green Thingy".

The only impressive thing about your last post was how intellectually narcissistic it is. Turning a bank failure, an ownership squabble and the orderly unwinding of a loan portfolio in to a vapid discussion on how Charlottesville cops have failed to keep order on the mall is sad attempt to hide your lack of knowledge of the laws, facts and economic realities of this situation. By trying to hide the fact that you no little or nothing about the financial world, you have once again failed to even seriously try to convince anyone or even argue the facts at hand. A rearranged recitation of your first post doesn't answer the reasons you where presented with on why the city will never own the Landmark.

But even with your logical inadequacies I still must assume you're actually a very happy guy because if ignorance is bliss, you must be closing in on nirvana.

Save your words Hypocratic, GSOE can't be embarrassed or shamed. This blog is the only beat he's still allowed to patrol.

Lets have a quick review, for those of you who just tuned in to the Twilight Zone, or rather, for you newcomers to the area. Back in the late 1970's, Charles Farber, the man who made malls like Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees, was working a deal with the city. The Fashion Square Mall was to be placed across the 29 from Northrup Grumman/Sperry. The city, in its usual way, dinked around and kept increasing the number of hoops that Farber had to jump through. Charlie had enough, needed to move on to the next community. He worked out a deal with the county to build at the current site, which had been nothing more than a great sand canyon, we used to ride our dirt bikes in. Which was acroos the street from the swamp that we caught frogs and snakes in, before it was filled into create Albemarle Square.
The city, realizing it just screwed itself out of some sweet taxes, finagled the revenue sharing agreement and also decided to copy some other towns mall out of the midwest. So, when Sears and Legget/Belk and the other mainstream business left the downtown area, to either be in, or in close proximity to the new mall, C-ville had a wonderfully new bricked ghost town, where the wind ripped through you on a cold winters day, and the smell of urine from the drunks on the bench provided a most interesting aroma.
The downtown mall became a little world of fantasy for those rich enough to do nothing. They could sit amongst the outdoor cafe's and pretend to be in mother Europoe. They could shop at specialty shops that caters to their excentric needs, while allaround them, Rome burned. Much can be said about Lee Danielson, but for a while, the ice rink and the six screen theater gave downtown a shot in the arm. Perhaps Halsey Mino's two major mistakes were to (1) be magnanimous enough to attempt to give back to his home town, and (2) allow Lee the opportuity for redemption. Othertwise, as Gasbag has stated, you can bet that if something cannot be worked out soon, the city will make this hotel the Omni II, just as they will do when the YMCA fails in its location in the park.