Opening statements are expected to begin on Friday in the trial of property tycoon Mohamed Hadid, whose illegally-built Los Angeles mega-mansion has been at the center of a six-year bitter neighbor dispute.
The father of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid was sued in a civil lawsuit brought by neighbors who claim the ‘monster’ home he built on a hillside overlooking their homes in upscale Bel Air, turned their lives into a ‘nightmare’, and put residents and their houses in danger, and are now seeking millions in damages.
The massive mansion – which is twice the size permitted under local zoning laws – still stands unfinished despite an order for it to be torn down almost two years ago by a judge who dubbed it a ‘clear and present danger’ to the surrounding community.
And now, lawyers of Hadid’s neighbors have a filed court motion calling on the City of LA to demolish it immediately.
Mohamed Hadid was less than thrilled to talk outside a Santa Monica courthouse Thursday as he showed up for the final day of jury selection for his trial which could last four to five weeks
Opening statements are expected to begin on Friday when lawyers for Hadid’s neighbors will claim how the monster property turned their lives into a ‘nightmare’, and put residents and their houses in danger
A judge ordered Hadid’s mega-mansion to be torn down out of safety concerns, saying it was a nuisance and a danger to the public but it is yet to be demolished
Hadid’s lawyers are expected respond in a counter argument claiming one of the suing neighbors, Joe Horacek, has a personal vendetta against the developer and allegedly tried to extort $3.5million from Hadid in exchange for dropping his complaints to the city.
The 72-year-old real estate mogul appeared less than thrilled to talk outside court on Thursday when he showed up for the final day of jury selection for the trial which could last four to five weeks.
He barked ‘get lost’ when approached by DailyMail.com for comment outside the Santa Monica courthouse.
He wore a blue mask, a dark double-breasted designer suit, with a black tie and dress shoes.
The illegally-built ‘monstrosity’ should have been torn down by now thanks to a demolition order made almost two years ago by a judge who declared the half-built house to be a ‘clear and present danger’ to the community around it.
Hadid, however, claims he doesn’t have the $5million to cover the estimated cost of the demolition and a buyer who had offered $9million to purchase the property – and knock it down – recently backed out of the deal.
Hadid, pictured on Thursday, claims he doesn’t have $5million to cover the estimated cost of the demolition and says a buyer who had offered $9million to purchase the property – and knock it down – recently backed out of the deal
Neighbors have been fighting for years for the demolition of the property because of all the alleged unapproved construction. The development of the home has also been an eyesore to nearby residents and now a danger due to heavy Los Angeles rain
Attorney Gary Lincenberg pointed out that according to expert opinion, piles supporting the house – which were not sunk deep enough into the hillside to comply with local building codes – ‘will fail in the event of a 24-year earthquake or a 10-20-year rain event’
That has left the City of Los Angeles holding the bag – and facing a court motion demanding that the City should bring in the wrecking ball and tear the huge structure to the ground now – because of the threat it poses to the nearby homes it teeters above.
After Hadid, 72, claimed to be strapped for cash and (unsuccessfully) trying to declare bankruptcy, Judge Karlan ordered the house – which stands on a 53,000 square foot lot – to be sold.
LA developer Bruce Lifton offered $9 million for it, including the cost of demolition.
But before the deal could be sealed, LA City’s Department of Building and Safety, revealed for the first time only last month that in addition to tearing down the building, the retaining walls that held back hundreds of tons of earth supporting the house, would also have to be removed, adding $1.5million to the cost of demo.
Lifton said no, sending an email to Douglas Wilson – the receiver Judge Karlan appointed to oversee the demo – saying, ‘Everyone put your pencils down. The deal is dead,’ according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
Hadid has claimed he doesn’t have $5million to pay for the demolition and a buyer who offered $9 million to purchase the property and knock it down backed out
Now, Wilson is putting the house and land up for auction in an effort to find another buyer to pay the demolition cost.
And with would-be auction buyers being offered 70 days to submit a bid, then an escrow process added, that means demo won’t be able to start for several more months.
The loss of Lifton – the only serious buyer to show interest in the slowly deteriorating building site – prompted an angry reaction from long-suffering neighbors who blasted LA City for screwing up the $9 million deal that could have rid them of the house – dubbed the Starship Enterprise for its size – looming over them once and for all.
Their lead lawyer in the lawsuit, Gary Lincenberg, filed a motion last week ‘requiring the City to demolish the structure at 901 Strada Vecchia (the address of Hadid’s mega-mansion)….’
‘The City’s conduct has created a situation in which there are no funds available to the receiver to demolish the structure that has been declared an imminent danger,’ said Lincenberg in court papers.
‘The City allowed the dangerous, non-compliant structure at 901 Strada Vecchia to be built. The City failed to ensure that the structure was safe. The City did nothing to ensure that Hadid would pay for the demolition.
Mohamed Hadid, father of supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid, will go on trial this week over his disaster Los Angeles mega-mansion that was illegally built
Gigi and Bella Hadid’s father faces $60 million in losses over his condemned Los Angeles mega-mansion
Judge Karlan ordered the home to be demolished almost two years ago and declared the half-built house to be a ‘clear and present danger’ to the community around it. Pictured: Judge Karlan inspecting Hadid’s mansion in Bel Air in 2019
‘The City’s conduct contributed to the only serious potential buyer pulling out of the transaction.’
Lincenberg blasted LA’s Department of Building and Safety, saying it’s mission is ‘to protect the lives and safety of the residents and visitors of the City of Los Angeles.
‘In order to fulfill its mission, the City of Los Angeles must demolish the dangerous structure at 901 Strada Vecchia now, before the structure fails and puts the entire community at risk.’
Lincenberg pointed out that according to expert opinion, piles supporting the house – which were not sunk deep enough into the hillside to comply with local building codes – ‘will fail in the event of a 24-year earthquake or a 10-20-year rain event,’ bringing the house crashing down the hillside, endangering the lives of local residents in nearby homes.
‘No one can predict exactly when a building with structural problems will fail,’ he added. ‘But the recent condominium collapse in Florida tragically showed what can happen when life safety risks are not expeditiously abated.
Attorney Gary Lincenberg filed a motion last week ‘requiring the City to demolish the structure at 901 Strada Vecchia (the address of Hadid’s mega-mansion)’
‘Likewise, no one can predict exactly when an earthquake will hit the Los Angeles area (or whether a rainy season will be particularly strong).
‘But given the massive weight of this criminally built structure, hanging over an illegally graded steep hillside, there is an enormous risk to further delaying demolition while figuring out the best way to pay for it.
‘It is critical that demolition begin before any piles fail. With no buyer on the horizon and the receiver concerned that a time-consuming auction will not fetch a price sufficient to fund the demolition, the City should be ordered to perform its public safety duty and demolish the mansion.’
Hadid declared last October that he’s broke – facing $60million in losses over the headline-making mega-mansion that he once hoped to sell for $100million.
The Palestinian-American developer also contended that he owes $15million in court judgements against him, he’s had to ‘drastically downsize’ from a 48,000 square foot home to a more ‘modest’ one, he’s made no money from the caviar and champagne products that carry his name, and his famous daughters’ eyewear line – also using the Hadid brand – has gone belly up.
Hadid – who was criminally prosecuted over Illegal construction of the huge house – claimed in his written declaration, ‘The stigma of the project and the impact on my life over the past six years that Joe Horacek (one of the neighbors suing him) has harassed me have been personally devastating.
‘My reputation is tarnished and my ability to go out and borrow other money is fractured at best. I am 72 years old and do not have the millions of dollars needed for the demolition of Strada Vecchia.
‘I may have ”paper assets” but there are substantial loans against everything I own, thus I have no liquidity with which to fund the demolition of 901 Strada.’
Hadid puts most of the blame for his troubles on ‘nightmare neighbor’ Joe Horacek (pictured in front of his home with Hadid’s home in the background), who he says became ‘obsessed’ with the case
The neighbors’ legal team scoffed at his poverty-pleading statements, calling them ‘blatantly and intentionally deficient’ and adding, ‘Hadid is now concealing his finances to avoid being called to task.’
Hadid has tried several legal moves to try to stop or delay his dream project from becoming a pile of rubble and dust.
First he filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming that he ‘couldn’t afford’ the $5 million cost of the demo. That was dismissed.
Then he filed an appeal against Judge Karlan’s order to tear down the giant house. That too was denied.
In May last year he launched a desperate bid to save his building project by asking California’s Supreme Court to send the case back to Judge Karlan’s court.
But the state’s highest court torpedoed his efforts, refusing even to hear the case.
Then, in a last-ditch move, Hadid’s lawyers filed a second appeal – this time against Judge Karlan’s decision to appoint a receiver to oversee destruction of the house.
He lost that appeal as well.
Hadid’s mammoth house was originally permitted for 15,000 square feet but it grew to more than 30,000 square feet with much of that additional construction illegal.
He ignored orders from Los Angeles City to stop building and in December 2015, in an almost-unprecedented move, the city decided to prosecute him criminally.
He pleaded no contest to three criminal charges involving illegal construction and in July 2017 he was told he would serve a 180-day jail sentence if he didn’t reduce the size of the house and bring it into compliance with city building codes – or demolish it – within the three years of probation the judge also imposed.
In addition, he was fined $3,000, ordered to pay $14,191 in fees to LA city, and serve 200 hours of community service. Hadid’s probation period for that criminal case ended in July 2020 and his lawyers have since managed to have his three misdemeanor convictions expunged from his record under California court regulations.