PIMCO Bond King Wins Art War Against Neighbor in Laguna Beach

(NY Post) - Bond King Bill Gross has finally won the turf war against his neighbor over a million dollar art installation at the billionaire’s California beachfront home.

After a lengthy legal battle, the former PIMCO CEO and his wife, Amy Gross, have won approval from Laguna Beach lawmakers to keep their $1 million, 10-foot-tall cobalt glass sculpture installed in his backyard.

“Amy and I are relieved we can finally enjoy our art in peace and in full compliance with the City of Laguna Beach,” Gross said in a statement to The Post.

“While we are pleased at the final outcome, it is disappointing that it took so long, cost too much, and diverted valuable city, state and court resources for what was essentially a dispute among neighbors,” Gross added.

The ruling concludes more than two years of fighting between the couple and their next-door neighbors: tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq and wife Carol Nakahara that rattled the otherwise peaceful, posh and privileged Orange County enclave.

Towfiq’s 12-page objection letter to the Laguna Beach Design Review Board that contented the art was a violation of “neighborhood compatibility” and “view equity” was rejected earlier this year. Towfiq’s subsequent appeal to the California Coastal Commission to overturn the decision was also rejected in a staff report. Towfiq subsequently decided to withdraw his appeal altogether.

The art in question, constructed by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, began causing issues when Gross put a net on the structure in early 2020 to prevent it from being damaged by the elements. But Towfiq said the netting obscured his oceanfront view and reported both the netting and the sculpture to the city — claiming both needed permits. The city sent Gross a notice of violation.

From there, the neighbors began a series of escalating petty attacks against each other and sent complaints to the city of Laguna Beach — an upscale community where the average home price is north of $3 million.

Towfiq complained that Gross would obnoxiously blare the theme song of “Gilligan’s Island” on repeat, while Gross countered in court that Towfiq was a “peeping Tom” who “watched, leered at, photographed, and videotaped” the Grosses.

The Grosses filed a complaint that Towfiq was a “peeping Tom” and that he had cameras directed at them — a situation that made them feel like they were “in prison.”

Towfiq filed his own complaint alleging the couple were “bullies” and that they blared loud music — namely the Gilligan’s Island theme song on repeat. He claimed the cameras were merely there to prove his point the art and netting blocked his views.

Both parties filed restraining orders against each other.

The row resulted in Gross and his wife loudly taunting their neighbors one night in a move that ordered them in jail for five days for violating a court order that prevented them from playing loud music.

Gross, worth an estimated $2.6 billion according to Forbes, is no stranger to eyebrow raising provocations.

Bill Gross’s ouster from the PIMCO bond-trading empire was triggered in part by his insulting his boss with an F-bomb, Gross revealed in a new tell-all memoir earlier this year.

The memoir itself was controversial — PIMCO’s attorneys suggested they could sue him if he revealed too many incriminating details. But sometimes waging war gets you what you want.

Despite the drama in the neighbors feud, the Grosses’ lawyers said the saga was “worth it.”

“While the process was protracted, it was worth it in the end to finally establish
that the Gross’s application to install a beautiful work of art in their private back yard fully
complies with City and Coastal Commission requirements,” an attorney for Gross said in a statement.

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