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Assistant and friend to deceased Zappos CEO files $90M lawsuit against estate

Josh Marcus
·2-min read
<p>Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, responds to questions from interviewer Dennis Berman at  2015 WSJD Live on October 20, 2015 in Laguna Beach, California. </p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, responds to questions from interviewer Dennis Berman at 2015 WSJD Live on October 20, 2015 in Laguna Beach, California.

(AFP via Getty Images)

A longtime friend, assistant, and business associate of recently deceased Zappos founder Tony Hsieh took his family to court this week, filing more than $90 million worth of creditor’s claims she argues she is owed under contracts with the mogul, the LasVegas Review-Journal reports.

Jennifer “Mimi” Pham was a close friend and long-time assistant to Mr Hsieh, 46, who became a millionaire after selling the online shoe retailer Zappos to Amazon. He died in November in a house fire in Connecticut, leaving no will, and inspiring lawsuits over what to do with his vast estate

One claim from Ms Pham, a friend so close she and Mr Hsieh reportedly shared a cell phone number and address, is for $75 million, representing the “anticipated profit” for a deal with Documentary+, a documentary streaming service she helped Mr Hsieh invest in. Another, worth $7.5 million, relates to her management of another Hsieh venture, the Big Moose Yacht Club in Park City, Utah, which she helped manage.

Attorneys for both parties did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms Pham alleges that Mr Hsieh’s family took over his business affairs after his death and isn’t honouring agreements she made with the prominent investor.

The former Zappos boss died in November from complications from smoke inhalation, after an accidental house fire broke out at a $1.3 million waterfront property in New London, Connecticut, and he was trapped in a storage area and unable to escape.

Close friends told the Wall Street Journal that the lauded executive had been on a downward spiral after retiring from Zappos, and struggled with substances and isolation during the pandemic, as well as a fixation with fire and extreme starvation diets that worried those close to him. He reportedly made plans to check into a rehab clinic a day before the fire.

Mr Hsieh was beloved in Las Vegas, and was a major force behind revitalizing its downtown, investing hundreds of millions of dollars into startups, property, restaurants, and other ventures in the area, some of which his family has moved to sell after his death.

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