Higher plane: Minor sought jet during Landmark default

In June, Halsey Minor put down a deposit for a Gulfstream G650, a private jet that its manufacturer says will be "the fastest civil aircraft flying." Pricetag: $58.5 million.

It's been nearly a year since construction began on Halsey Minor's soaring Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall. Since then, Minor's construction lender has sued the Internet entrepreneur for missing payments while an estimated 300 contractors are out of work as the construction site lay dormant during the legal scrape. While the project remains up in the air, so too is a clue about another source of Minor's financial woes.

In his response to a suit from Merrill Lynch over a $25 million loan he took out to purchase art, Minor states that on June 3, 2008–- after work on the $31 million Landmark Hotel had already begun–- Minor put down a $3 million deposit to purchase a Gulfstream G650 jet. The list price for the private plane is $58.5 million.

Last December, at a time when Atlanta-based Silverton Bank now alleges Minor was missing payments on the $23.6 million construction loan he had taken out to build the Landmark, Minor reveals he went back to Gulfstream and asked for a portion of his deposit back. Gulfstream, according to Minor's own March 10 filing in a New York federal court, wired Minor $1.5 million on December 19, on the condition that he pay it back by January 30–- or lose the plane and the rest of his deposit.

That deadline came and went.

On Tuesday, February 24, Silverton sued Minor for $10.5 million in missed payments on his Landmark loan.

In recent weeks, as Minor–- who owns two mansions in Virginia and two in California–- has halted payments to auction houses and to start-up ventures, his creditors have claimed that he has simply run out of money.

So why was Minor trying to buy a $58.5 million jet while, his lender alleges, he couldn't make good on his deal to build the $31 million Landmark hotel? Bill Goggins, the Landmark's chief contractor for construction firm Clancy & Theys, seems perplexed.

"I wasn't aware of it," says Goggins. "All I can say is that these are crazy times."

Had Minor secured his G650, it would have been a sweet ride for the bi-coastal businessman, who, according to a profile in Portfolio magazine, was recently commuting in a Learjet.

Gulfstream unveiled plans for its latest model in March 2008 and boasted that it would be "the fastest civil aircraft flying," able to reach speeds in excess of 700 mph, just shy of the sound barrier, with a fuel efficiency that allows the plane to fly at altitudes of over 50,000 feet and distances over 8,000 miles–- more than enough range to fly non-stop from L.A. to Paris.

The cabin will be plenty roomy at 8 1/2 feet wide by 6 1/2 feet high, able to seat 18 passengers, or just eight if they wish to sleep in the lie-flat beds while checking e-mail through the in-cabin wireless Internet capability.

The catch? The plane doesn't actually exist yet.

Gulfstream anticipates the first of the G650 fleet to be in the air this year. And don't think about just plunking down your credit card to claim yours today. Gulfstream already has reservations for G650s into 2017. Through a lottery, Minor was in line to receive the 51st one available in 2013.

If the story of a Gulfstream lost amid worsening financial conditions seems familiar, it echoes Tom Wolfe's 1998 tragic-comic novel, A Man in Full. However, unlike Wolfe's once-well-to-do protagonist who loses his plane due to a bank foreclosure, it would appear Minor has parted with his Gulfstream–- and $1.5 million in deposit money–- voluntarily.

Minor did not return the Hook's calls for comment, but Betty Shumener, the attorney representing him in his suit against Danielson, says Charlottesvillians should not read anything into her client's attempted purchase.

"I don't know anything about it," says Shumener, "but it's got nothing to do with this case, and I would hope that you report responsibly."


pigs get fat hogs get slaughtered.

About the bank, who stopped paying first, Silvteron or Minor? The original story in the Hook said:

In November, Minor alleged Silverton had withheld its loan money without explanation and told the Hook then he was planning to sue Silverton.

ââ?¬Å?It’s a mess,” said Minor. ââ?¬Å?I put up $7 million in equity up front. They had until Friday to pay $1.1 million, and they just didn’t. They flat-out did not pay.”

So did Minor stop paying Silverton first, or did the bank stop paying in the wake of the September 2008 financial collapse, when many banks were retrenching on loans?

And who decided not to pay the contractors, Danielson or Minor? Who has been paid so far?

Dear Colfer,

That's the $10.5 million question.

Silverton is remaining tight-lipped about the when and how of Minor's default, except to say that his financial situation had changed and that the loan would no longer cover the cost overrun of the Landmark. Minor's attorney is saying he never once missed a payment, and Minor himself told me in November that he suspected the bank was failing just like other big banks. Silverton vehemently denies this.

So, to answer your question, both parties seem to have their own version of the story and it looks like we'll have a chance to hear them both in court.

Thanks for reading.

Lindsay Barnes

So let's understand this---Minor gets sued by Sotheby's for not paying----Minor counter sues which is dismissed----gives his art to Christie's who can't sell it but they lend him money and he doesn't pay it-----Merrill Lynch lends Minor $25M on his art work he cannot pay---and it is their fault---NOW he puts up a deposit to by an expensive airplane and owes the money back to the manufacturer---then Minor blames Silverton for not paying so he dumps on them and then he fires Danielson,and everyone from Charlottesville,then he sues everyone and everyone sues him----Wow--Minor is very much misunderstood. All this and in his statement he says his financial statement has not changed since it was originally given----hhhhmmmm only person in the world who hasn't had a change in financial condition...and the beat goes on---it must be a giant misunderstanding of the "local" hero.

Im rich!

Yeah but who has a history of not paying contractors? Danielson. (And lawsuits with partners, actually, re: Rolph.) That's what I don't get about this story, or the gleeful reactions to it. I don't see where Greenjacket gets 'it must be a giant misunderstanding of the ââ?¬Å?local” hero.' Nobody here is making any defense of Minor that I can see.

The city should condemn the property as blight and sell it with the condition of a dated completion. There is legal precedence.

The city has a responsibility to the other property owners and can legally do this.. if they only had the testes that it would take.

Did somebody say, "testes"?

Reality, the city taxpayers will finish the hotel, I don't care what Norris says to the contrary. It will be so real pretty with our new $7 million dollar bricks. :)

Either Minor or the bank will own it. Do you really think the city is going to seize it for back taxes, or by eminent domain for some undefined purpose? Get real.

And it's hardly a blight. Every decent-sized city ion the country probably has one of these things.

I would like for someone to question where the city government is in the problem. Was there no performance bond required before this was started? What about liquidated damages? How could the city allow a project as large as this to begin without assurances that it would be completed on schedule. Vdot would not allow a tiny bit of paving to connect to US29 without a performance bond, standard procedure. Do we have complete idiots running the city, or was this something other than a mere oversight.?

After reading this review I am once again depressed. I was really hoping that I could spend about forty dollars so that my wife and I could see a good entertaining movie worth the price of admission. But Nooooo! Once again it's a short, cheaply made piece of crap with about three good laughs during the entire movie. Well, I promise, if you stop by my house, for half that price, I'll give you a Bud, a bag of caramel popcorn, and at least five laughs (I can be pretty funny when I ask you to pull my finger).

Come on Dudes! Write something funny! Earn that big dollar or get the hell out and let us less talented novices have a crack at it. So far, the scripts I have in my glove compartment are better than the crap I've paid 10 percent of my weekly salary for. Bastards!

We went to this movie expecting a light, holiday fare. What we were served was total crap. Walked out and received a refund after 30 minutes.