Zuckerberg in Nasty Legal Fight Over Neighboring Land

Lawsuit could expose his personal finances
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2015 5:12 PM CDT
Zuckerberg in Nasty Legal Fight Over Neighboring Land
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in a real estate dispute.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Mark Zuckerberg values his privacy so much that he's willing to spend tens of millions to buy up neighboring properties. Now, however, he's in a legal battle with a developer and would-be neighbor that threatens to make public details about his personal life and finances, reports the New York Times. It's a little convoluted, but Russian-born developer Mircea Voskerician accuses Zuckerberg of reneging on a promise to introduce him to Silicon Valley contacts, and one of his court filings demands details about Zuckerberg's personal finances. Team Zuckerberg, meanwhile, accuses Voskerician of extortion and says he's “going out of his way to embarrass Mr. Zuckerberg and pressure those around him.”

As Bloomberg previously reported, this began when Voskerician sent Zuckerberg a letter in 2012 saying he was under contract to buy a property next to Zuckerberg's and planned to put up a home with a direct view of Zuckerberg's home. However, he said he'd be willing to sell Zuckerberg part of the property to buffer his privacy. After negotiations, Zuckerberg eventually bought Voskerician's rights to the entire property for $1.7 million, then paid the owners another $4.8 million for the lot, reports Business Insider. Voskerician says he could have gotten a better deal but took the offer because of Zuckerberg's promise. Bloomberg says one 2013 email, from Zuckerberg assistant Andrea Besmehn, could be key:

  • “I just had a quick chat with Mark on this issue—and he said he does remember saying that he would help this guy in a ‘light’ way. Is there a way when we chat with him that we can find out a way for us (not necessarily Mark) to help him with something small? Also ... we’ll have to manage this carefully because we don’t want to give an inch and then...”
Zuckerberg had to give a deposition Wednesday. "Stay tuned," advises VentureBeat. "Zuckerberg’s life might become a lot less private in the next few months. And a new Silicon Valley melodrama might on the way." (Click to read Zuck's standard hiring question.)

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