Billionaire investor Bill Gross on Tuesday morning described feeling like a “prisoner” in his oceanfront Laguna Beach mansion, as testimony wound down in a heated legal dispute involving dueling lawsuits between the former bond king and his tech-entrepreneur neighbor.
Gross, the former Pimco investment firm founder, and former professional tennis player Amy Schwartz, who Gross described as his life-partner, have accused their Rockledge Beach neighbor, former software company executive Mark Towfiq, of being a “peeping tom” who photographed and filmed them while they were using their pool and relaxing on their property.
Towfiq previously testified that he was documenting Gross’ use of high-decibel music played on a loop – including the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song – as retaliation for Towfiq complaining to the city about a $1 million lawn sculpture and protective netting that were apparently installed without the necessary approval.
During testimony on Tuesday, both sides accused their counterparts of making them feel uncomfortable in their own home.
Gross denied playing loud music to annoy Towfiq, accusing his neighbor of being “sort of like a silent voyeur” who he believed was acting a little “pervy.” Gross said he purchased the Laguna Beach property to have a private place away from his main residence in Newport Beach.
“He was holding me prisoner in my own walls,” Gross said.
Both Gross and Schwartz have testified that they had a particular love for the Gilligan’s Island theme after learning that part of the opening credits of the show was filmed in the harbor near their Newport Beach residence.
Carol Nakahara, Towfiq’s wife, testified that she and her husband felt “intimidated” by the loud music. Nakahara said Gross and Schwartz ignored what she described as “polite” requests to turn down the music.
“The home was not a place we wanted to be anymore, it was not a safe place anymore,” Nakahara said. “We did nothing wrong but they are just after us.”
Both sides have filed lawsuits alleging harassment, and both are seeking restraining orders against the other party.
Gross in a public letter last week suggested that rather than continuing the legal battle the two sides instead calculate what they have and will pay for it and give that money to charity. That suggestion was rebuffed by Towfiq’s attorneys, who accused Gross of trying to “buy” his way out of the case.
Instead, the case will soon be in the hands of Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly A. Knill, who has heard hours of testimony from both sides over the past several weeks.
Attorneys for Gross and Towfiq are expected to present their closing arguments to the judge on Wednesday afternoon.
At the time Gross bought the 10,000-square-foot, contemporary home in 2018, the listing described it as having 190 feet of ocean frontage, along with a private-access cove and beach. An 8-person, commercial-grade elevator, caterer’s kitchen and master suite with its own gym, office, spa and sea-view terraces were touted among the features.
Source: Orange County Register