Minor broke? Christie's, Merrill say he's out of cash
Is Halsey Minor, the Charlottesville native, UVA alum, and founder of Internet media company CNET who once had an estimated net worth of more than $350 million, out of money? That's what two new lawsuits are alleging.
London auction house Christie's and New York investment bank Merrill Lynch are both alleging that Minor has run out of cash.
"Minor did not have sufficient resources to pay for the Artworks at the time of the bidding," the Christie's complaint alleges, "and further, that Minor knew that he did not have sufficient resources to pay for the Artworks at the time of the bidding, and that he would not have such resources at the time the payment was due."
The Christie's suit, filed February 2 in Northern California federal court claims fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract over the $7 million Minor bid for three paintings he purchased at an auction in July. The suit counters a claim Minor filed in December that alleged Christie's had held on to paintings he handed them to sell for longer than he wished, resulting in their depreciation.
In New York federal court, it's the private finance arm of Merrill Lynch claiming that Minor borrowed over $25 million. Not only did he not pay it back, the suit alleges, he sold off much of the collateral, which was a variety of–- you guessed it–- paintings.
Neither Minor nor his attorney immediately returned the Hook's calls for comment.
If true, the allegations that Minor is out of money are particularly damning at a time when Minor is also fending off a suit from New York auction house Sotheby's for not paying for $16.8 million for another three paintings, and when construction on the Landmark Hotel–- the nine-story Charlottesville luxury hotel Minor owns–- has come to a standstill. The halt on the $31-million project comes only two months after Georgia-based lender Silverton Bank temporarily withheld funds on the project.
Minor's spending on high-priced luxury items doesn't end with art. As the Hook reported in a November cover story, Minor has also spent $77.8 million to buy real estate in Virginia and California, and another $6.3 million on two thoroughbred racehorses, in addition an untold sum he spent to own or lease a Bill Lear-designed Canadair Challenger jet he reportedly uses to commute between his homes in Virginia and the West Coast.
In the tony Holmby Hills neighborhood of L.A., Minor has recently begun renting the so-called Singleton Residence, which was recently listed for sale at what one blogger calls the "mind-melting" asking price of $85 million.
When asked, in a November interview with the Hook, how such expenditures and lawsuits would affect the Landmark Hotel's future, Minor asserted that the Landmark Hotel will be finished and that he has the money to see the project to completion.
"How does that have to do with Sotheby's, or my horses, or that I'm selling my house in Bel Air?" Minor said. "We're going beyond where we need to go in this conversation. You can twist facts around all you want, but I don't see what the hotel has to do with any of these other facts."
–-last updated 2:34pm February 7