Billionaire Bill Gross’ bid to end bitter neighbor dispute gets shot down
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That’s coconuts! Billionaire allegedly blared ‘Gilligan’s Island’ theme to torment neighbor
Bill Gross called for a truce in his months-long feud with his California neighbor — but the neighbor isn’t having it, claiming the olive branch is just another ploy.
The billionaire bond king issued a press release calling for him and tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq to lay down arms and “agree to end all hostilities” between them — including their bitter legal battle over a glass sculpture Gross installed on his Laguna Beach property.
The 76-year-old PIMCO founder also proposed he and Towfiq donate the money they would spend on the lawyers conducting the court fight to charity. They could even pick the recipients together “in a spirit of resolution and future goodwill,” he said.
“Those who know me and my history also know I do not willingly back down from a fight,” Gross said in the Monday statement. “But this situation has escalated far out of proportion to the actual issues at stake, which are petty in comparison to a world in which thousands are dying and suffering every day, while many more are out of work and desperate to pay the rent and feed their families.”
But Towfiq’s lawyer dismissed Gross’s overture, saying Gross was just trying to get out of testifying in the sprawling court case that’s grown out of the dueling lawsuits they’ve filed against each other.
“Genuine settlement offers are conveyed to the other side, not issued in press releases,” the lawyer, Jennifer Keller, told The Post in an email Tuesday. “The press release is just Gross’s attempt to spin the media because exposure of his behavior has been a disaster for him.”
Keller noted that Gross didn’t agree to stop harassing Towfiq or “remove the illegal installations” on his property. She compared Gross’ treatment of his neighbor to the “pattern of harassment” he allegedly used against his ex-wife, who accused him in 2018 of stinking up their former home with fart-scented spray and dead fish.
“Without a restraining order he’ll keep it up,” Keller said.
Gross shot back that Towfiq was “vindictive and self-serving” to reject his call for an armistice. He said he’ll still donate his expected legal expenses to Laguna Beach and Orange County charities by Friday.
“My offer to Mr. Towfiq was never intended to ‘buy’ my way out of this case,” Gross said in a statement. “It is to reserve court time for more important litigation, and to provide something of value to our community, not to benefit one side or the other except to cease hostilities.”
The exchange was just the latest episode in an acrimonious spat between two well-heeled neighbors that’s been fleshed out in gory detail during court proceedings in recent weeks.
A Monday hearing in the case abruptly stopped after Gross’ lawyer said the billionaire had been exposed to people who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bloomberg News.
The ordeal allegedly started when Towfiq complained to local authorities about a protective net that Gross had installed over a glass sculpture on his property that was made by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Towfiq says Gross blasted loud music from his house — including the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song — to pressure him into dropping the complaint.
Gross, in turn, has alleged that Towfiq is obsessed with him and his girlfriend, Amy Schwartz, and that he’s spied on the couple for more than a year.
The bad blood may have started boiling last year. In a recent court filing, Gross and Schwartz said Towfiq rented out his home in 2019 so the HBO series “Ballers” could be filmed there. The crew’s trucks were blocking the couple’s driveway and they had to have someone call the production team to have them moved, which apparently irked Towfiq, according to the filing.
But Towfiq testified last week that he remained friendly with the pair after the shoot and that they invited him to see singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins perform in their backyard for Schwartz’s 50th birthday around September 2019, Bloomberg reported.
“I just cannot imagine how that — four or five days of filming and potential parking issues — would create or morph into something like this, I just cannot imagine,” Towfiq reportedly testified, adding that he didn’t hear any complaints about the “Ballers” shoot.
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