As the court battle over Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s estate continues, court documents have revealed details about his last days and the events leading up to the house fire in which he died in November 2020.
Hsieh had been CEO of Zappos for twenty years before he retired in August 2020. He had also been a key figure in the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas. His net worth at the time of his death has been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to an article written by Rachel Zalucki on KTNV.com, court documents revealed that during Tony Hsieh’s final months, he was displaying erratic behavior, abusing Ketamine and Nitrous Oxide, he was barely sleeping, and he was malnourished. His abuse of drugs had led to hallucinations and very poor business decisions, which included exorbitant expenditures such as paying a $2.2 million dollar attorney fee, purchasing a $7.5 million dollar contract for “financial consulting services,” $30 million dollars given to an unidentified person to “operate a boat bar and ice castle,” and buying Zappos headquarters “for nearly $40 million more than it’s value.”
At the time of Hsieh’s retirement as CEO of Zappos in the summer of 2020, a judge ordered that Tony’s father Richard Hsieh and brother Andrew Hsieh become co-administrators of his estate. Court documents revealed that Andrew Hsieh was trying to wean his brother off of his dependence on Nitrous Oxide. Documents also showed that a group of friends visited Tony Hsieh at his home in Connecticut beginning in November 2020. Hsieh began to show improvement in his health, he started to eat better, enjoy food, and laugh again.
The night before his death, he apparently had a fight with his girlfriend and retreated to a shed on his property in which he used blankets and a propane heater to stay warm. He had apparently become fascinated with fire and candles near the time of his death according to lawyers of his estate.
Per Zalucki’s article on KTNV.com, firefighters were called to Hsieh’s home around 3:30am on November 18, 2020. They had to force their way into the shed’s storage area to pull Hsieh out.
Reports and surveillance video reviewed after the tragedy revealed that a plastic bag and blanket had caught fire earlier in the night, and Tony Hsieh had opened the shed door to let the smoke out. This occurred about ten minutes before his friends phoned 911. Video also showed several of his friends passing him “whippet” canisters (nitrous oxide) through the door of the shed throughout the evening.
The court battle over Tony Hsieh’s estate will continue, with the next hearing being held in December.
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Larry Martino is the long-time Afternoon Drive personality on 96.3 KKLZ. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of Larry Martino and not necessarily those of Beasley Media Group, LLC.