Dot-com millionaire Halsey Minor, who is facing bankruptcy in his venture formed to purchase Carter’s Grove from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, has broken his silence relating to the case and is not happy with the way the case has been handled by the court-appointed Carter’s Grove trustee.
Minor set up Carter’s Grove LLC in 2007 to purchase the property for just over $15 million from CWF.
“I’m from Virginia and I love Virginia history, I love history,” Minor said. “My mother thought I was an idiot so I took her down there and I said I have no use for it but I love it.”
Minor didn’t make the last two payments owed on the property, and then filed for Chapter 11 on Feb. 14, 2011.
Minor said he kept his mouth shut trying to make the press surrounding the case go away but “the trustee keeps doing these insane things and finally I had no choice … if I didn’t oppose it, I’d have another round of ‘Halsey Minor eludes trustee,’” he said referring to a local press report following a March 15 motion filed with the bankruptcy court.
“I was hoping that if I didn’t participate, it would just blow over. But when they came after me on the most recent waste of time, money and energy, because at this point it was personal, I had to respond,” he said.
Stanley Samorajczyk – Carter’s Grove trustee—filed the motion to have Minor apprehended and brought to court following failed court appearances and lack of communication.
“It’s called service … in this case it’s apprehending, as if I was a common criminal,” Minor said.
Minor says Samorajczyk spent $25,000 trying to find him and having him served at incorrect addresses without contacting Minor’s attorney for four months. In a motion emailed to WYDaily and filed with the court Wednesday, Minor included a Spokeo search for “Halsey Minor, Beverly Hills, CA,” which lists his current address.
Minor hasn’t appeared in court because he is caring for a sick child, something he said Samorajczyk knew; he offered to be available by teleconference, video conference or near his home in Los Angeles for an in-person deposition.
Minor takes issue with other ways the trustee has handled the case, such as claiming the property went into disrepair during Minor’s ownership and that it had to be extensively repaired.
In documents filed with the court, Minor said Samorajczyk wrote about having to save the property but was not appointed to do so by the court.
In a May 6 document filed with the court, Samorajczyk wrote, “The property will be listed for sale within the next week and will go on the market in better condition than when it was sold to the debtor in December of 2007. The trustee has succeeded in repairing and preserving Carter’s Grove, returning it to the splendor fitting of this national historic treasure.”
Minor responded to the statement in an interview saying, “It’s ridiculous. I mean, even if that was the case, I’m not sure you need to tout their extraordinary success in the renovation business.”
In an interview with WYDaily, Samorajczyk said he was appointed by the court to take care of the property and to restore it to the condition it was in prior to Minor’s purchase.
“I have worked for a year now with Colonial Williamsburg and their contractors and artisans to repair the damage that was caused by the neglect of the owner. It is fully repaired, fully restored,” Samorajczyk said.
Repairs were made to the roof, water damage on the inside of the house, an HVAC system, plaster, paint, hand-carved wood and moulding and extensive painting was done.
Minor said his intentions for the property were to fully restore it to its original state and reopen it to the public.
After Minor paid $13.7 million for Carter’s Grove, his assets were frozen and he was unable to make the additional payments owed to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for the property.
Sotheby’s, an auction house Minor owed $3.4 million, froze his assets until Minor offered up Carter’s Grove as security and Sotheby’s put a lien on it. Since that time, Sotheby’s has sold artwork belonging to Minor and only $1.5 million of his original debt with the company remains, which Minor says should be considerably reduced by the sale of additional paintings soon.
Minor said he also paid about $150,000 to keep the museum at Carter’s Grove in place, $1.5 million between 2008 and 2011 on monitoring and work on the property and $750,000 for an architect and landscape architect –Ferguson and Shamamian Architects, LLP and Arne Maynard Garden Design, respectively— and for a paint analysis in preparation for restoring the property. Minor sent a 40-page garden plan from Arne Maynard Garden Design and a YouTube video of the gardens to WYDaily.
“I wish I could have kept [Carter’s Grove] and I wish I could have done what I wanted to do…but at this point I’m going to be extraordinarily happy never to be involved in this again,” Minor said. “The great tragedy is that while I have been publicly flogged, I was going to be the one to turn it back to the public and everything I was doing was in service of that.”
Carter’s Grove is now listed for sale with Charlottesville-based McLean Faulconer, Inc. Listing agent Stephen McLean said the property is for sale for $14.95 million. The property could be sold to someone who wants to open it to the public or use it as a private residence, Samorajczyk said.
“The bankruptcy court appointed a trustee to assume responsibility for Carter’s Grove. In this capacity, the trustee retained a Charlottesville, Va.,- based real estate broker to market and sell the property,” said Gail Waddell, CWF general counsel.