From Billionaire To Broke: CNET Founder Halsey Minor’s Estates Put Up For Bankruptcy Sale
Halsey Minor, the founder of web content company and TV network CNET, built an empire for himself back in the early ninety’s and seemed to be a regular Silicon Valley success story. His company, CNET, which was founded in 1992, would take only four years to become the first web content company to go public. This venture, along with several other smaller companies that excelled, would earn Minor the title of “entrepreneurial genius” and place his net worth at more than $1 billion dollars in the years that followed.
Fast forward just a few short years later, and Minor is now making headline news for a different reason… because he is flat broke. At the ripe old age of 48, this tech pioneer is blazing new trails that include filing for bankruptcy and selling off his assets to pay debts, including an opulent mansion in Los Angeles, a Versailles palace look alike in San Francisco, and a historical James River plantation home in Virginia.
It is alleged that Minor owes money to about 60 creditors, for a total debt amount that could be as much as $100 million. Some of his reported creditors are Bank of America Home Loans, the Internal Revenue Service, UCLA Medical Center, Verizon Wireless, various divisions of California state and local government (including the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco), AT&T, and Sotheby’s auction house. Since filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year, a trustee has been appointed to oversee the liquidation of Minor’s assets, as well as the repayment of his outstanding debts.
Reports say that Minor’s financial troubles are largely due to many years of ill-fated investments which include, among other things, expensive artwork and hotel development. Inside sources also reveal that Minor lived a very lavish lifestyle, spending his time flying around in his own private jet airplane and purchasing large ticket items, such as homes and estates that he didn’t even have a use for. Additionally, Minor’s fortune also was diminished by $50 million when he divorced his wife, Deborah, in 2006.
Up for sale first on the list is Minor’s four bedroom, six bath, Bel Air mansion that was built in 1964. This gated estate sits cliff-side and claims to have some of the most stunning views that Los Angeles has to offer. Listed at nearly $15 million, the home is a bargain price, compared to the $20 million that Minor paid for it in 2006, but is said to need major renovations before a new occupant can move in.
Just a short trip across the state of California brings us to an even larger estate that is being liquidated in the Halsey Minor bankruptcy sale, listed at a whopping $21 million. This 18,000 square foot palatial home was designed and built to resemble Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon in Versailles, and features eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Located in the exclusive Presidio neighborhood of San Francisco, this home has also fallen into a state of disrepair and is will need a little TLC to bring it back to its former glory.
The third and final of Minor’s properties, which was placed at auction earlier this year, is a historic Virginia plantation home, that was built in 1755 and which is located in the James River district. “Carter’s Grove”, as the home is called, was purchased by Minor in 2007 for a ridiculous $35 million and would sit empty for years, until historical preservation enthusiasts forced it to auction, stating gross neglect, lack of upkeep, and disrepair of a historically significant structure.
While many people would take their fall from wealth and success extremely hard, Minor seems to be handling the situation quite well. In a letter, written to the Wall Street Journal, Minor says,
I love being an entrepreneur even though it involves financial risk. I have been fortunate enough to play a meaningful role in building great companies like CNET Networks, Salesforce.com, Rhapsody, NBCi, the service known as Google Voice and others. But if you win some you are going to lose some too.”
Only time will tell whether Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Halsey Minor, will be able to recover the billion dollar fortune that he has squandered and return to his former spotlight as a genius in the tech industry.
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