The Foxes’ attorney said that audio and video recordings of the auction showed that “there was no mistaking what happened.”
“This is not a he-said, she-said issue, because the audio and video make it very clear who said what, and that’s what we were able to play for the judge,” said Miami lawyer Eric Isicoff.
He said he thought Wadsworth, Haas’ proxy, was in over his head when it came to bidding in an auction of that heft. Attempts to reach Wadsworth were unsuccessful Wednesday.
“The guy who was the eyes and ears for the actual buyer simply didn’t have the experience he needed to participate in that kind of auction,” Isicoff said. “He came to that realization too late. But unfortunately, once the gavel fell on his winning bid, he and the buyer were contractually obligated to keep up their end of the arrangement.”
If Haas loses on appeal, the $1 million-plus he sunk on his would-be Golden Beach homes won’t bankrupt him. His estimated net worth was about $740 million in 2011, according to a California business newspaper. He has donated close to $10 million to charities through his Gene Haas Foundation, and has paid some $75 million in restitution to the IRS stemming from a 2007 tax-fraud conviction.
As for the Foxes, they ended up selling their palatial estates to other bidders, although for slightly less than Haas appeared willing to pay. The homes went for a combined $10.7 million in December 2011. The real estate web site Zillow now pegs their combined value at nearly $20 million, thanks to a rebound in real estate, meaning Haas not only dropped a million-dollar deposit, but missed out on a money-making bonanza.
The brothers are continuing to enjoy retired life.
“They’re extremely happy with how things have proceeded,” Isicoff said. “Even with the possibility of appeal, they’re very optimistic.”