Mark Zuckerberg isn’t getting along with his neighbors, reports KWCH-12, and the Facebook CEO is in a legal wrangle with his neighbors over a piece of property behind in house. In a bizarre contract, Mark Zuckerberg agreed to buy a property for a “discount” as long as he agreed to introduce his neighbors to his powerful friends.
As the case with his neighbors has gotten more sticky, Zuckerberg asked a California state judge to toss out the weird case, but the judge refused. The court battle will go to trial, where a jury will determine whether Mark Zuckerberg is guilty of fraud. To make matters worse, KWCH-12 reports that the lawyer representing his neighbors has now withdrawn from the case after asserting it presented ethical dilemmas.
According to KWCH-12, Mark Zuckerberg was approached by his neighbors to purchase the rights to a property immediately behind his house. One neighbor, real estate developer Mircea Voskerician, acquired the rights to purchase a piece of property directly behind Zuck’s house in 2012.
His neighbors offered to sell Mark the property in order to ensure the CEO’s privacy, and Mark agreed. However, Mircea rejected the billionaire’s offer, reports KWCH-12.
According to the Daily Mail, Mark then received a letter from Mircea which stated the real estate developer planned to destroy the mansion on the property in question, and replace it with a larger home. In a bizarre twist, the Daily Mail reports that the developer also planned “build a huge house and market the property as being next door to Mark Zuckerberg,” a source told the San Jose Mercury News at the time.
In a February, 2015, article, Bloomberg reported that in the letter, Zuck’s neighbors also assured him that any mansion built on the property would have a direct view of his home, including the CEO’s “yard and master bedroom.”
However, his neighbors approached Zuckerberg, assuring him that if he acquired the rights to purchase the property, his privacy would be ensured. According to Bloomberg, the letter from the neighbors also said that if Mark plans to live in his current home for a long time, Zuckerberg has “one shot to ensure his privacy is where it needs to be,” the developer wrote in an email to one of Mark’s employees.
Zuckerberg then received a bizarre offer. Because he was a “good neighbor,” the real estate developer said he would sell Zuckerberg the property at a discount if Mark helped him with his business. Two weeks later, Mark and his neighbors came to the princely sum of $1.7 million for the rights to purchase property, which is described at a “deep discount.”
Zuckerberg and his neighbors shook hands on the deal, but never recorded the agreement in writing. Now, Mark is being sued for fraud by his neighbors. And, according to Bloomberg, a Zuckerberg adviser is questioning “How do we make this go away?” since Zuckerberg will not “take a meeting with him… ever.”
In a April 13, 2013, email exchanged between Mark and his neighbors, Voskerician wrote that “I am happy that I could maintain your privacy by selling you the Hamilton property.” The email continues with claims that Voskerician wanted to discuss “working with [Zuckerberg] in the future as you stated you have built Facebook on connections that you have with others in Silicon Valley.”
Mark Zuckerberg has since purchased the property from its owners for a total of $4.8 million, making the case even more murky.
Zuck’s neighbors assert that the Facebook giant promised him introductions into the Silicon Valley elite, reports the Daily Mail, but has failed to follow through with his promise, and Mark reportedly has acquired three more homes nearby to further ensure his privacy.
Lawyers for Zuckerberg strongly deny there were any promises made, and the transaction was a simple real estate deal. To make matters worse, according to the Daily Mail, Voskerician has contacted Mark Zuckerberg through email, threatening that his neighbors could cause problems from “either a security or PR standpoint.”
Lawyers for Mark Zuckerberg refused to comment.
[Image credit: Pool / Getty Images]