LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Former Zappos CEO and Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Hsieh was worth an estimated $840 million, documents filed in court as part of two lawsuits against his estate suggest.
Hsieh died in a house fire in November in Connecticut. He was 46 and left no will or revocable living trust, which would have shielded the estate settlement process from the public.
In December, a judge named his father and brother as special administrators to his estate.
Two recently-filed lawsuits in Clark County District Court claim Hsieh’s longtime assistant and friend, Mimi Pham, is entitled to some of his wealth and that Hsieh’s estate and companies he owned owe her money.
“It’s surprising, and then it’s not, because we see it happening all the time,” Las Vegas-based estate attorney Shane Jasmine Young said “I’m sure he didn’t realize that this is probably the result, or that this would be the result, of not having any planning, but it is, unfortunately, for his family and other people that were in his life.”
In two lawsuits, Pham claims she is owed some of Hsieh’s “vast fortune” for work she performed on his behalf, documents said. According to the lawsuits, the duo was so close, Hsieh used Pham’s cell phone as his own. The lawsuits also claim Hsieh and Pham used the same address.
Pham’s work, according to the lawsuits, partly involves businesses in Park City, Utah, and a documentary film company, among other unnamed businesses.
“All of these people are going to come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Oh, Tony promised me this, I’ve got this contract, we had this agreement,’” Young said. “It’s already started to snowball.”
Last week, the administrators of Hsieh’s estate filed notices in Clark County District Court to explore the sale of nearly 100 properties. The lawyer for the estate, Dara Goldsmith, said the notices allow for the “possible future sale” of the properties and does not necessarily mean all would be sold.
Documents show the properties include Zappos Headquarters, which was most recently assessed at $20 million, records showed.
“Everybody has to have the opportunity to make claims in this public process,” Young said. Because Hsieh’s estate is worth more than $100,000, and there was no revocable living trust, the process must go through probate court. That also means the estate is applicable to taxes, which will end up skimming hundreds of millions off the top.
The process is the same for anyone worth more than $100,000. The trust acts as a gatekeeper for one’s wealth and assets in the event of death.
“Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t think of it,” Young said, “whether we’re super wealthy or not.”
Lawyers representing Pham declined to comment, pending the ongoing litigation. They have asked for jury trials.
Hsieh led retail giant Zappos for 20 years and retired as CEO back in August 2020. He played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas and had an estimated net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.