Minor Mistakes: From Billions to Bankrupt

Posted in: General Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy protection extends to people you don’t really feel that sorry for.  I recently read an article about the May bankruptcy filing by Halsey Minor.  Now that name may not sound familiar to you, but some of his business ventures will.  He was a key investor in the company now known as Google Voice and an early investor in Salesforce.com.  He founded CNET Networks Inc. in the mid-nineties and sold the company for $1.8 billion in 2008.  That’s billion with a “B” and all this by his early forties.  That’s more than enough money for most of us to live comfortably.  So how has Minor ended up in bankruptcy just five years later?

Minor’s mistep appears to have been when he turned to invest his fortunes outside the tech world.  He focused on race horses, real estate, and fine art.  These were not mere hobbies, but lavishly funded undertakings.  He purchased Carter’s Grove Plantation from Colonial Williamsburg in 2008 with plans to raise racehorses on the historic property built in the 1750s.  Now, Minor has been forced to sell off over $20 million of his art collection.  Carter’s Grove is in bankruptcy.  Sotheby’s auction house has a judgment against Minor for $6.6 million resulting from Minor’s failure to pay up after successfully bidding on artwork.

The Beverly Hills resident lists in his bankruptcy petition assets of around $50 million and debts of around $100 million.  He likely hopes this bankruptcy will proceed more smoothly than the Carter’s Grove bankruptcy, during which the trustee filed a motion to have Minor “apprehended” and brought into court following missed appearances and failure to communicate.