Love thy neighbor — however not when you’re residing in a gated neighborhood in certainly one of Southern California’s wealthiest and most unique enclaves.
In Orange County’s tony Laguna Beach, it’s been outright conflict between a pair of rich residents, with petty aggressions, escalating harassment complaints and high-powered attorneys duking it out in courtroom.
Earlier this month, the billionaire mutual fund supervisor often called the Bond King, Bill Gross, 77, and his spouse, Amy Schwartz Gross, 52, have been sentenced to 5 days in jail and two days of neighborhood service for violating a restraining order towards their neighbor.
It was the newest surprising flip of occasions within the Gross family’s spat with tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq and spouse Carol Nakahara, each 57, after Gross erected a $1 million 10-foot-tall cobalt glass sculpture by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly in his yard.
To defend it from the weather — together with falling palm fronds — netting was put up final year. But Towfiq mentioned the netting blocked his view — and complained to metropolis officers.
Since then, Gross and Towfiq have been locked in a bitter battle in what’s in any other case a quiet coastal metropolis recognized for its artwork galleries and waterfront eating places.
Towfiq complained that Gross would obnoxiously blare the theme track of “Gilligan’s Island” on repeat, whereas Gross countered in courtroom that Towfiq was a “peeping Tom” who “watched, leered at, photographed, and videotaped” the Grosses.
Now, the 23,000-person metropolis by the ocean, the place the median home-selling value is $3 million, is within the highlight for its two enfants terribles with an excessive amount of time and money on their palms.
“Everybody thinks it’s ridiculous,” one longtime Laguna resident advised The Post. “This whole thing is a waste of money, time and energy. They’re not exactly the fabric of our community.”
Then once more, squabbles among the many über rich aren’t that unusual right here.
“A lot of neighbors in Laguna Beach sue each other over tiny things,” Lisa Elias, a 53-year-old canine walker and longtime resident who used to work in an area regulation agency, advised The Post.
“It’s usually something like, ‘A wall is an inch over on my property, so you need to tear it down.’ ”
Or, “‘My son is allergic to the pepper tree in your backyard. Take it down!’”
Historically an artist’s colony, Laguna Beach’s 1-percenters give some locals the sensation of “there goes the neighborhood.”
“It used to be such a mellow community,” Elias mentioned of the world, noting its bohemian roots. “Now it’s [affected by] extremely wealthy people’s mansion-ization.”
In 2019, Bill Gross, price $1.5 billion in response to Forbes, and Amy Schwartz, a former tennis professional, moved into their new $35.8 million residence, referred to as Rockledge-by-the-Sea, in Laguna Beach’s non-public Irvine Cove. The 10,000-square-foot property boasts an eight-person business elevator, a health club, a spa and a wine-display room.
Shortly after transferring in, he threw a fiftieth party for Amy there and even employed Kenny Loggins to placed on a yard live performance for friends.
At the bash, Gross sang “Celebrate Me Home” to Schwartz, whom he wed this previous April.
Towfiq — additionally a Laguna Beach newcomer, having completed constructing his residence on the adjoining property in 2015 — took within the present and was apparently entertained.
“Mark enjoyed the concert and sent Amy a text the next day,” a supply near the Grosses mentioned. (Towfiq himself mentioned in courtroom final year he had hoped to have “a friendly relationship” together with his new neighbors.)
But any preliminary pleasantries have been fleeting.
The following year, Gross put in the Chihuly sculpture near the wall and the row of hedges that separate his home from Towfiq’s. Then, in spring 2020, they put in the divisive netting.
“We wanted to protect a valuable piece of art that has brought great joy and pleasure to our family,” the couple famous in a courtroom submitting.
But the netting was an excessive amount of for Towfiq, who complained that it obscured his view. (The supply near the Grosses insists that the one view it obscured was that of the Grosses’ residence.)
Ignored by the Grosses, Towfiq promptly took his grievances to the town of Laguna Beach, which despatched the couple a discover of violation: Both the art work and netting required permits.
And that’s when issues acquired attention-grabbing.
“It’s a millionaire going to war with a billionaire,” mentioned the supply near Gross.
Gross is the co-founder and former chairman of Pacific Investment Management Company, higher often called PIMCO, as soon as thought-about the world’s largest mutual fund. In 2019, he famously revealed he has Asperger syndrome — a high-functioning type of autism marked by social awkwardness and an inclination to fixate on explicit topics — to Bloomberg Television.
“I’m sort of proud of it, because it explains a lot about me … It’s allowed me to stay at 30,000 feet as opposed to being on the ground,” Gross mentioned of his prognosis.
Still, he admitted that it in all probability contributed to his infamous mood. (Gross’ ex-wife, Sue, accused him of utilizing fart spray and inserting useless fish within the air vents of their Laguna Beach residence throughout their bitter 2018 divorce; he denied the allegations.)
“People think you’re angry or an a–hole or whatever,” he continued to Bloomberg. “But it helps you to focus on the longer-term things without getting mixed up in the details.”
His newest obsession seems to be Towfiq.
After his neighbor complained to the town in regards to the netting, Towfiq says that the Grosses started blasting the theme track of “Gilligan’s Island” — in addition to the “Green Acres” theme and Led Zeppelin — in retaliation.
But the Grosses mentioned it was Towfiq who started a marketing campaign of harassment.
On Oct. 13, 2020, they filed a criticism towards him, which learn partially: “Many times have Plaintiffs been swimming and enjoying themselves, only to spot Defendant Towfiq staring at them, camera at the ready, poised to capture yet more images, audio, or video of Plaintiffs and their family and friends.”
The following day, Towfiq, who acquired rich creating information facilities, filed a criticism of his personal. Both sides requested restraining orders towards one another.
Towfiq mentioned in courtroom he arrange one of many cameras solely to show that the Grosses had ignored the order from metropolis officers to take away the netting. In courtroom docs, he referred to as the couple “bullies” and mentioned they blared music at ear-splitting volumes from outside audio system in any respect hours, forcing him and his spouse to flee twice.
(The supply near the Grosses mentioned that the “Gilligan’s Island” theme track “has special meaning to Bill and Amy” as a result of it reminded them of their different residence in Newport Beach.)
When Towfiq texted his neighbor to show down the music, Gross allegedly wrote again: “Peace on all fronts or well [sic] just have nightly concerts big boy,” in response to a chunk of proof Towfiq utilized in his October 2020 application for a brief restraining order.
In December, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill slapped the Grosses with a three-year restraining order, banning them from taking part in music exterior their residence when nobody is within the yard pool space.
Earlier this month in courtroom, a video taken in July was proven that depicted the Grosses frolicking of their pool and apparently taunting Towfiq.
In the 11-second clip, Amy is singing on the high of her lungs: “We’re outside. Yes, we are. Yes, we are. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re outside. Yes, we are!”
Knill referred to as it “appalling” and sentenced the pair to 5 days in jail for violating the courtroom restraining order.
The supply near the Grosses defined Amy’s weird habits: “The point of that was for Amy to make a recording showing that, ‘I’m following the rules of the restraining order.’”
“This incident, the judge’s obvious bias and the enormous amount of wasted time and money on music played below the legal 60 decibel level at 9:15 in the evening constitute a miscarriage of justice, let alone a travesty of prejudice,” Bill Gross mentioned in a press release to The Post.
Meanwhile, Towfiq isn’t profitable any Neighbor of the Year awards, both.
After he purchased his Irvine Cove property in 2009, Towfiq grew to become entangled in litigation with Michael Wilson, his instant neighbor to the north, who took the techie to courtroom over his building plans. Towfiq hoped to demolish three current constructions and erect a brand new cliffside residence that might partially obscure Wilson’s view.
After two years of preventing, Towfiq gained a county ruling in 2011 and began constructing his modernist residence with a 2,000-square-foot coated patio, infinity pool and panoramic ocean views.
“I hate to be bullied,” Towfiq reportedly mentioned on the time. “This is our right to build this house. This is our dream house.”
Added Towfiq’s lawyer, Chase Scolnick: “This is terrible and unfortunate that their dream house has turned into a nightmare.”