Zappos founder Tony Hsieh didn’t leave a will when he died after a house fire in Dec. 2020.
His friends and family are reportedly going head to head over how to divvy up his $500 million estate.
Some are filing claims in court with sticky notes written with Hsieh promising financial deals.
Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, who died in Dec. 2020, didn’t leave a will detailing what he wanted to do with his estate and fortune, valued at $500 million.
And so friends and family are now grappling with how to divvy up his empire, with some insisting they’re owed millions of dollars, real-estate development contrast, and other assets.
As The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, Hsieh jotted down specifics of some business deals on sticky notes, thousands of which were also strewn across the walls of his Park City, Utah, home.
Some survivors are filing claims in court based on those sticky notes, including Mark Evensvold, who filed a claim for $30 million based on one that was written three months before Hsieh died. The note, per the Journal, said Hsieh would pay Evensvold $450,000 to move to Park City and take up a project manager position and give him a 20% share in a restaurant business.
His family looks poised to inherit his assets, although relatives and friends are at war over who cares for Hsieh and who aimed to be close to him for his wealth and status, per the Journal.
Some told the court that relatives, including Hsieh’s brother Andy, enabled the former CEO’s abuse of drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, his family said in court filings that Hsieh’s friends pushed him to make “impulsive” and “incoherent investments.”
Actors Joseph Gordon Levitt and David Arquette, who were both friends with Hsieh per The Journal, were also subpoenaed for evidence that the two men were concerned about his mental health.
Representatives for the Hsieh family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hsieh left his role as Zappos CEO in August 2020 after 20 years with the company. He was known for his out-of-the-box workplace policies, including the practice of “Holacracy,” a system with a flat work hierarchy that allows employees to work without assigned roles and more flexibility.
He also pioneered the concept of paying new, unhappy employees $2,000 to quit to weed out those who wouldn’t be as committed to and passionate about their work at Zappos.
But in 2020, Hsieh began struggling more so with drugs and alcohol, a battle exacerbated by the isolation and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He died after sustaining injuries in a Connecticut house fire in December 2020. Forbes later found that he had locked himself in a storage area in the home, and while investigators ruled out criminal intent, they concluded the fire could have been “caused by carelessness or an intentional act by Mr. Hsieh.“
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