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Hsieh delusional from drug use, malnourished in final years, court docs say

Updated October 27, 2021 - 11:07 pm

Lawyers for the family of the late Tony Hsieh painted a dark picture of his final years, writing in recent court documents that he was malnourished, barely sleeping and hallucinating from ketamine and nitrous oxide use.

Hsieh’s brother and father alleged that the late tech mogul was taken advantage of by his former longtime friend and assistant, Jennifer Pham, and her boyfriend, Roberto Grande, according to documents from an ongoing civil lawsuit over contract disputes.

Lawyers for Pham, Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff, denied the allegations, arguing that binding contracts explained the financial gain.

Hsieh died Nov. 27 at age 46 from injuries suffered in a Connecticut house fire and did not leave a will. His father, Richard Hsieh, and brother Andrew Hsieh are overseeing the estate of the former Zappos boss.

In an August filing, the family said Hsieh started using ketamine to replace the addictive nature of alcohol and prescription drugs. He was previously prescribed Xanax, Adderall and Ambien. Hsieh started using ketamine in November 2017, the documents stated.

“While Tony was known as a man with elaborate ideas, those same ideas while Tony was under the influence of Ketamine were delusional and very destructive,” California attorneys Vivian L. Thoreen, Anjuli B. Woods and Lydia Lee Lockett, and Las Vegas attorney Dara J. Goldsmith wrote. “Among other effects, these delusions caused Tony to believe he needed to consume more Ketamine in order to solve the problems existing within the delusion.”

In court papers filed last week, lawyers for Hsieh’s family reasserted allegations that Pham was paid millions of dollars to be Hsieh’s “right-hand” and accused her of ignoring his deteriorating condition.

His family stated that Hsieh was sleeping two to four hours each night and losing weight quickly. He hired security to limit the friends who could see him and began excommunicating those who sought to get him help for his addiction. In 2020, Hsieh switched from ketamine to nitrous oxide.

Pham and Grande were among those closest to Hsieh and they used him for their own financial gain despite his ailing health, according to the document, which cited business deals that helped the couple profit and exponential raises granted to Pham from Hsieh.

“As Tony’s condition continued to deteriorate, a close friend of Tony’s pleaded with Pham that Tony was going to die, but Pham dismissed the statement describing Tony as an adult free to make his own decisions, however reckless,” the document stated. “Meanwhile, Pham requested that Tony execute a durable power of attorney to ensure that someone other than Tony could access his funds at a moment’s notice upon his approval or if he were somehow unavailable. Saving Tony was simply not as profitable as enabling and encouraging his further deterioration.”

Pham filed lawsuits early this year alleging contracts she had with Hsieh weren’t being honored. In early March, she filed more than $90 million worth of creditor’s claims against his estate.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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