Legendary bond investor Bill Gross and his wife Amy have won a protracted legal battle to keep a $1 million backyard sculpture that sparked a years-long feud with their Laguna Beach neighbor.
The billionaire founder of investment management company PIMCO said on Tuesday that the city had issued final approval for the permanent installation of the intricate blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly.
The sculpture had been a focal point in Gross’ bitter and convoluted feud with his tech-entrepreneur neighbor Mark Towfiq, who sought the artwork’s removal and claimed Gross retaliated by blaring the theme song from Gilligan’s Island on a loop.
‘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 DailyMail.com.
‘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,’ he added.
Billionaire Bill Gross and his wife Amy have won a protracted legal battle to keep a $1 million backyard sculpture (above) that sparked a years-long feud with their neighbor
Gross (left) won approval for the sculpture over the objections of neighbor Mark Towfiq (right), who claimed that the artwork violated ‘neighborhood compatibility’ and ‘view equity’
Gross says that the net was vital to protect the sculpture from hazards such as falling palm fronds
Apparently, Towfiq did not have an issue with the glass sculpture until Gross began to install elaborate netting (above) to protect it from ‘vandalism’ and environmental damage
Gross slammed Towfiq for failing to take him up on a prior offer to drop their competing lawsuits and instead donate their estimated legal expenses to charity, a move that Towfiq’s lawyers previously panned as a ‘stunt’.
The billionaire accused Towfiq and his wife Carol Nakahara of pursuing ‘a continuing attempt to sully my reputation’ and said the final approval of the sculpture ‘exposes their true intent in this rather ludicrous situation.’
A lawyer for Towfiq did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon.
Towfiq’s attorney had filed a 12-page objection letter with the Laguna Beach Design Review Board arguing the artwork violated ‘neighborhood compatibility’ and ‘view equity’, among other complaints.
Final approval for the sculpture was granted after the California Coastal Commission issued a staff report rejecting Towfiq’s arguments against the sculpture, and Towfiq withdrew his appeal.
The sculpture had been a focal point in Bill Gross’ bitter and convoluted feud with his tech-entrepreneur neighbor Mark Towfiq
Bill and Amy Gross (above) accused Towfiq of disturbing ‘peeping Tom’ behavior, including voyeuristic filming of them on their property
Towfiq and his wife Carol Nakahara (together above) accused Gross of retaliating against his complaints by blaring loud music, including the theme song to Gilligan’s Island
The sculpture was approved for permanent installation on the condition it be slightly moved to comply with setbacks, that a protective cover be removed, and that light fixtures be operated manually and restricted to 30 minutes after sunset to 10pm.
A source close to Gross said: ‘He lost a few battles, but finally won the war against the neighbor, at least the part about being able to keep his artwork.’
The strange and twisted saga dragged out over nearly two years, comprising competing allegations, lawsuits and restraining orders between the two neighbors.
Towfiq and his wife said they built their ‘dream home’ on the property in 2009, and hoped it would serve as a place they could host their extended family.
Gross and his now-wife Amy moved in next door in 2019, and court filings assert the bad blood began that May, when a huge production crew arrived with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to film for Ballers at Towfiq’s home.
Gross said he and Amy purchased the ocean view Laguna Beach mansion to serve as a retreat to spend summer weekends when they weren’t at their main residence in Newport Beach.
Laguna Beach police officers are seen posing with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson outside of Towfiq’s home in May 2019 during a shoot for the HBO series Ballers that Gross says caused chaos on the street and blocked their driveway
Gross said he and Amy purchased the ocean view Laguna Beach mansion (above) to serve as a retreat to spend summer weekends when they weren’t at their main residence
Gross’ attorneys previously claimed that Towfiq, ‘to attract the attention that he craves from celebrities,’ rented out the home to the HBO series for filming, and crews blocked Gross’ driveway for days as he and Amy were trying to prepare the home to move in.
‘The Ballers incident was the first unpleasant experience they had with the neighbor even before moving in,’ a source close to the Gross camp told DailyMail.com.
Towfiq later testified that there were no signs of hard feelings at the time, however, noting that Gross and Amy invited him to a Kenny Loggins concert in their backyard in September 2019, for Amy’s 50th birthday.
Towfiq testified that he was thrilled with the concert, even though, he claims, the musician’s crew trampled his lawn and ran cables over his property.
The legal beef between the two men started in earnest when Gross installed a 22-foot-long glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly in the backyard of his Laguna Beach mansion and installed a large net over it after it was damaged.
Gross put up the net to protect the glass sculpture – which is valued at $1million – after it was reportedly ‘vandalized’ and suffered $50,000 in damage.
Towfiq filed a complaint with the City of Laguna Beach after he set up the net, calling it ‘unsightly’. The quarrel only escalated from there.
Towfiq claims that Gross then blared music in retaliation and allegedly blasted rap, pop, and the TV theme songs for Green Acres and Mash at all hours of the day in a bid to get him to drop the complaint.
Officers responded to Gross’ address on separate occasions in August and October 2020 in response to complaints about loud music.
In the legal dispute Towfiq also submitted cellphone videos showing a man who appears to be Gross dancing on his balcony as the theme to Gilligan’s Island plays loudly in the background.
A Gross confidante told DailyMail.com that the Gilligan’s Island theme has a special meaning to Gross and his wife, because the credits of the show were filmed across the water from another home they own in Newport Beach.
The source said the couple enjoys listening to the song, and did not intend to use it harass their neighbor.
In the legal battle, Gross claimed Towfiq is a ‘peeping Tom’ who spies on him and his girlfriend and takes video and photos of them.
‘We called him ‘Peeping Mark’,’ Gross told the court during the legal battle, before describing Towfiq as ‘strange’ and ‘dangerous to approach’.
Towfiq disputed Gross’ claim that he’s creepy and obsessive and exhibits ‘Peeping Tom behaviors,’ saying he doesn’t have any special interest Gross or his girlfriend.
Bill and Amy Gross are seen in court on October 1. A judge found the couple guilty of flouting a court order not to annoy their neighbor by playing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island
Gross’s neighbor Towfiq (pictured) accused Gross of trying to get revenge for his complaints about the netting by playing music at extreme volumes, specifically the Gilligan’s Island theme
Thanks to the court dispute, when the couple got married in April 2020 (pictured) they had to do it at their other property in Indian Wells
‘No, I never thought of [Bill and Amy] as celebrities,’ Towfiq said in court.
In a statement, Amy said the dispute over the backyard artwork was ‘very upsetting’ to her because the sculpture was bought for her by Gross when her mother was ill.
‘Since I have no children of my own, they are like my babies. My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and I pray to them and she enjoys looking at them because it’s her favorite color and makes her smile,’ she said in the statement.
Amy said that she and Gross are the ‘best neighbors’ because they are only at home for five days a month, five months out of the year.
The two neighbors each sought restraining orders against the other. Towfiq got a restraining order barring his neighbors from playing music louder than city rules prohibit, and Gross sought one barring Towfiq from filming him and his wife on their property.
Last October, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill found Bill and Amy Gross guilty of contempt for violating the restraining order against loud music, and tossed out their countersuit against Towfiq.
Bill Gross and his wife Amy are seen beaming after completing their mandatory community service at a California soup kitchen
Krill’s sentence of five days in jail was suspended, and the couple were allowed to instead perform two days of community service as penance.
Gross revealed in an investment note that the couple had done their time volunteering at a Santa Ana soup kitchen, where they helped serve a ‘gorgeous enchilada lunch’ to the less fortunate.
Writing in his typical tongue-in-cheek style, Gross marveled at the high-class menu options served up by the soup kitchen, and wryly noted that many of the ‘customers’ appeared more well-to-do than the bedraggled staff.
‘No downtrodden homeless people at this soup kitchen!’ wrote Gross, adding that vehicles lined up for the drive-thru meal pickup included many ‘nice SUVs and pickup trucks’.
‘Indeed, as Amy and I cut chicken for the soup and fruit for the fruit cups, we were then assigned to pass out what was actually a gorgeous enchilada lunch replete with cheesecake and chips,’ recalled Gross.
Gross slammed the judge in the case as ‘a 57-year-old lady with pierced nose stud and visible tattoos’ who ‘only does ‘restraining order’ cases in Orange County.’
He said that the community service sentence had been handed down ‘for playing 15 minutes of music at 9 pm in our backyard pool.’
‘The music was below city decibel limits but was somehow disturbing the peace of our noise-sensitive neighbor,’ wrote Gross.
‘NO police citation was issued but what the heck, a crime must have been committed if the neighbor simply called police and complained he couldn’t sleep at such a late hour,’ he added.