He cofounded CNET and was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As a venture capitalist, he funded the company that became Google Voice. But lately, Halsey Minor can’t catch a break.A historic Virginia plantation house he purchased in 2007, Carter’s Grove, is falling apart, reports the Washington Post. A San Francisco property, the Koshland Mansion—sometimes called Le Petit Trianon, after the French palace it was modelled after—has been cited as abandoned by the city.
That was just part of a $100 million art-and-real-estate spending spree which left Minor short on cash just as the 2008 economic crisis hit. Shortly afterward, Minor was embroiled in lawsuits with the likes of Merrill Lynch and Sotheby’s. (He’s settled some, lost and won some, and is appealing others.)
Minor’s business career has similarly foundered. In February, he hit up his LinkedIn contacts for new investors in Atmosphir, a build-your-own-video-game startup, the Post noted.
And Business Insider has learned that Minor is no longer an investor in OpenDNS, one of the more successful startups in the portfolio of his former venture-capital firm, Minor Ventures. In fact, until recently, Minor was a defendant in a lawsuit filed by OpenDNS against Paxfire, another Minor-backed venture.
OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch declined to comment on the suit, but confirmed that Minor has not held a stake in the company since 2010.
Some highlights from the Post article:
- In a case involving a Charlottesville hotel development, in August 2011, Minor declared he had less than $112,643 in cash. (That figure didn’t include real estate or other property.)
- Since Minor bought it for $15.3 million from the foundation that runs Colonial Williamsburg, Carter’s Grove has become a wreck, with “pervasive rot.” The house is shifting on its foundations and may be unsound.
- Minor never actually finished paying for Carter’s Grove, and the foundation declared its intention to foreclose in January. In February, the LLC through which Minor owned the mansion declared bankruptcy.
- Even Minor’s father can’t get him on the phone. “The odds of getting through to my son are almost nil,” he told the Post’s reporter. “I have a heck of a hard time getting through myself.”
- Minor still owes California a $13 million tax bill—making him one of the state’s largest tax debtors for several years running.
- Carter’s Grove caretaker Robert Mays went unpaid for months. He asked for money to buy replacement lawnmower blades. Stephen C. St. John, the judge overseeing the Carter’s Grove bankruptcy, ordered Minor to pay Mays within 48 hours. Minor cut a check. St. John suspended hearings while the check was walked over to a nearby bank—to make sure it actually cleared. In April, St. John appointed an independent trustee to run the estate.