Bill Gross Faces Off With California Neighbor Over Blaring Music
(Bloomberg) -- The Mariachi music was blaring so loud from Bill Gross’s California ocean-front home it drowned out the surf and the traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway, a police officer told a judge at the start of a hearing over dueling harassment complaints from Gross and his neighbor.
Gross, known as the “Bond King,” and his neighbor, entrepreneur Mark Towfiq, began feuding after the billionaire installed a 22-foot-long blown glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly.
Towfiq claimed the art was installed without proper permits under a net that he described as unsightly. Gross responded by playing loud music, including the theme to “Gilligan’s Island,” in order to get Towfiq to drop his complaint, according to testimony Monday during the first day of a multiday hearing. The two sued each other for harassment.
Laguna Beach Police Officer Ashley Krotine testified Monday that she arrived at Gross’s home about 9 a.m. on Oct. 22, responding to a complaint about loud music.
“When you say there was ‘loud Spanish music,’ was it louder than the ocean?” Jill Basinger, a lawyer for Gross, asked the officer.
“Yes,” Krotine said.
“How much louder?” Basinger asked.
“I couldn’t tell you,” the officer said.
“Louder than PCH?” Basinger asked.
“Yes, louder than PCH,” Krotine said.
That was part of the campaign Gross began after the city of Laguna Beach issued him citations over the art, Towfiq says. It started with pop and rap blaring from the $32 million residence of Gross and his girlfriend, Amy Schwartz. Soon after it changed to TV show theme songs, according to Towfiq’s complaint.
“Mr. Gross and Ms. Schwartz have made Mr. Towfiq and his wife’s life a living hell,” Chase Scolnick, a lawyer for Towfiq, argued in court.
Gross, meanwhile, says his neighbor is a “peeping Tom” who leers at his girlfriend and spies on them when they’re swimming in their pool, wearing “minimal, if any clothes.”
“Enough is enough,” Gross said in a court filing. The billionaire says he “should not have to live tormented by the presence of cameras trained” on him because of “one man’s prurient obsessions.”
To compound the harassment, Gross said his Chihuly sculpture, worth an estimated $1 million, was inexplicably damaged by a rock. It cost $50,000 to fix, he said.
On Monday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill in Santa Ana began a mini trial that may feature about a dozen witnesses. Each side seeks a court order barring further offending behavior and unspecified money damages.
Towfiq’s first witness was Ross Corona, a city code officer, who testified that he spoke to Gross and his girlfriend in an early August phone call.
“Did they tell you they’d drop the music down to reasonable level if Mr. Towfiq dropped his complaint with the city?” asked Chase Scolnick, a lawyer for Towfiq.
“Yes,” Corona said.
The trial is scheduled to resume Nov. 16.
The cases are Gross v. Towfiq, 30-2020-1165114-CU-NP-CJC, and Towfiq v. Gross, 30-2020-01165428-CU-NP-CJC, California Superior Court, Orange County (Santa Ana).
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