Gross’s Neighbor Feud Spans Kenny Loggins Concert and HBO Shoot
(Bloomberg) -- A neighbor dispute between wealthy southern Californians isn’t the typical fight about a fence or a dog crossing property lines. In the case of billionaire Bill Gross and tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq it involves a TV shoot for the HBO series “Ballers” and a Kenny Loggins concert.
Gross and his girlfriend Amy Schwartz said any goodwill they had toward Towfiq and his wife soured after he rented out his beachfront for the filming of the TV show in mid-2019. He didn’t notify neighbors and the equipment for the shoot blocked access to their driveway, they said.
But Towfiq maintains his neighbors never complained and he remained friendly with Gross and Schwartz for months after.
Around September 2019, 1970s pop star Kenny Loggins played a private concert in Gross’s backyard for Schwartz’s 50th birthday. And even though the musician’s crew ran electrical cables over his property and trampled his landscaping, Towfiq said he later texted Schwartz to thank her, because he and his wife were thrilled with the concert.
“It was a live concert with Kenny Loggins,” he testified Thursday in state court in Santa Ana, his last day on the stand in dueling lawsuits between him and Gross. “My wife and I liked him. We grew up with that kind of music.”
Towfiq read Schwartz’s reply to his text in court. “Hi Mark, thanks so much,” he read. “I’m glad you guys enjoyed it.” He said she concluded the message with a “smiley face” emoji.
He said he never heard any gripes about the “Ballers” shoot.
“I don’t remember anything,” Towfiq responded when he was asked if either Gross or Schwartz complained.
“I just cannot imagine how that -- four or five days of filming and potential parking issues -- would create or morph into something like this, I just cannot imagine.”
What it’s morphed into is a bitter feud between the wealthy neighbors.
Towfiq claims it began after he complained to the city about a million-dollar glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly on Gross’s property that was covered by an unsightly net. After that, Towfiq says Gross and Schwartz subjected him to hours of sonic abuse -- blasting rap music and theme songs from TV shows including “Gilligan’s Island” and “Green Acres”-- to get him to drop the complaint. Gross accused Towfiq of being a “peeping Tom” who leers and spies on him and his girlfriend.
As a result both men ended up in the Santa Ana court with harassment complaints and each seeking a restraining order.
Gross and Schwartz claim it was the “Ballers” shoot that ended any good relations between the neighbors.
During the weeklong shoot, the crew’s trucks lined the coastal highway, blocking access to Gross’s driveway, Schwartz said in a declaration to the court.
“Worse yet, the vehicles impeded the ability of our contractor to get to the house, which occurred just when we were trying to complete several projects in time for my birthday,” she wrote.
But Towfiq said Gross and Schwartz weren’t even living in the home at the time of the filming.
“There were a lot of workers doing all sorts of construction in the house,” when the TV shoot occurred, Towfiq said. “The house wasn’t even ready for them yet.”
Gross’s property manager, Efrain Alba, took the stand late Thursday and testified he often played music for hours at a time when he was at the home and the couple wasn’t. He said his employer supplied him with a decibel meter.
“I always use that as a metric to make sure it’s not too loud,” he said.
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