Chip Gaines' feud with his former business partners is heating up. Following a million dollar lawsuit leveled against the Fixer Upper star, one of his former shareholders claims that Chip cut off all communication after buying the business – despite their decade long friendship.
People is reporting that John Lewis was a business partner of Chip before Fixer Upper became a hit show on HGTV. Lewis and Richard Clark are suing Chip because they sold the rights to their business, Magnolia Real Estate Company, without knowing that Chip and Joanna Gaines were headed for a bright future on Fixer Upper.
"There was a sense of betrayal and frustration," Lewis explained. "Once I had sold him my interest in the company and his show began to flourish, I never heard from him again."
Lewis and Clark claim that Chip bought them out without telling them about his deal with HGTV. If they had known that their company was about to appear on television, they would have kept their shares. The two sold the company for $2,500 each. The sell occurred days before Chip and Joanna announced that HGTV bought a full season of Fixer Upper.To add to their frustration, Pop Sugar reported that Lewis said Chip stopped talking to him the day he sold the company. "I knew and understood at that point that he had gotten all he could out of our relationship and was done with it," he shared.
"[It] was already at that point of realization that our relationship was essentially over that I discovered that he had defrauded me and Rick."Chip Gaines' attorney has already come forward and disputed the allegations. Chip addressed the issue in a recent post on social media and claims that Lewis and Clark never reached out to him in the first place.
"Fyi: Ive had the same cell # 15 yrs.. same email for 20 yrs. No one called or emailed?" he said. "[Four] years later 'friends' reach out via lawsuit.. humm."
Lewis revealed that the legal troubles began in August of 2016, when his attorney sent Chip a letter. Lewis attempted to settle the issue privately, but Chip would not admit that he did anything wrong. Chip's attorney confirmed some of these details, but paints them in a much different light."The fact is that for over 3 years Chip heard nothing from Mr. Lewis or Mr. Clark about these issues," he explained. "The first time he did hear from them was in the form of a demand letter from a lawyer threatening a lawsuit."
When they started the business in 2007, the company was operating out of Waco, Texas and only employed one agent. Ten years later, Magnolia now has close to 100 agents and is located throughout the state of Texas. This is largely due to the show's popularity, which is one reason why Lewis and Clark took aim at Chip.
Lewis and his former partner are seeking a million dollars from Chip and Joanna Gaines. Although the lawsuit isn't going to help his friendship with Chip, Lewis says that he's willing to "hug it out" if Chip so desires.
There's no telling how the lawsuit will shake up in court, but Chip's attorney is confident that they will win. In speaking to Fox News, the attorney said he believes the allegations will be thrown out in court and expressed disappointment that people are going after Chip and Joanna just because of their success.
Chip and Joanna have not addressed the reports surrounding the million-dollar lawsuit. The couple is currently in production for the new season of Fixer Upper, which should air sometime this year on HGTV.
Tell us! Whose side are you on – Chip Gaines or his former business partners? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by HGTV]