April 27, 1950 |
Roseburg, Oregon, U.S.
|Residence||Medina, Washington, U.S.|
|Occupation||Real estate, timber, songwriter|
|Net worth||US$1.3 billion (2007)
|Children||Beau Blixseth (b. 1979)
Morgan Blixseth-Caldwell (b. 1981)
Timothy Lee "Tim" Blixseth (born 1950) is an American real estate developer, record producer, songwriter and timber baron. He was a co-founder of the Yellowstone Club in Montana. In 2006, Blixseth was featured in the Forbes 400 List of wealthiest Americans with a net worth of $1.3 billion. However, based on court records from his 2009 divorce, news reports estimated his 2011 net worth to have dropped to $200 million. By 2012 he faced a forced bankruptcy for failing to pay Montana $57 million in income taxes and in 2014 he told the courts he was "too broke" to pay pending judgments and contempt findings for his fraud role in the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy. Blixseth's wealth and assets have been the subject of controversy, and in December 2014 he was jailed for contempt for failing to pay court ordered sanctions and disclose what happened to assets the court had ordered held to pay his creditors. The bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club in 2008 led to extensive litigation with Blixseth and his creditors, the property emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership in 2009.
Early life and education
According to Blixseth, he "grew up on welfare in Roseburg, Oregon". He attended Roseburg High School (Class of 1968) and after graduating he worked in a sawmill. His parents were members of a "a local cult" called Jesus Name of Oneness.
Blixseth began his business career using land swap deals and federal timber contracts. He is the founder and chairman of the Blixseth Group and various entities associated with his timber, music production, real estate and software ventures. These include Blxware, Yellowstone Mountain Club, Yellowstone World Club, Crown Pacific LTD, Big Sky Lumber, BGI, Friday Records, Western Pacific Lumber, Blixseth Family Investments (BFI), TWJ Holdings LLC, Kawish LLC, Mexican Moon Investments LLC, and Desert Ranch Management.
Following bankruptcies in 1981 and 1986, Blixseth began to rebuild his timber business endeavors. In 1988 he co-founded Crown Pacific, LTD with Peter Stott and within a year had $44 million in sales.
During this time,[when?] Blixseth was involved[clarification needed] with three Oregon companies that defaulted on 22 national timber sale contracts owed the U.S. Forest Service more than $8 million. Two of Blixseth's timber companies, Capital Veneer and Capital Log Sales, filed for bankruptcy[when?] with debts totaling more than $16 million. A third company, Little River Box Co., was dissolved following two federal contract defaults. By 1992 Blixseth had sold his interests in Crown Pacific and launched Big Sky Lumber in Montana.
In 1995 Blixseth's Big Sky Lumber sold another 8,100 acres (33 km2) to the U.S. Forest Service for $16.4 million and then swapped the remaining 101,000 acres (410 km2) in checkerboard layout for 47,000 acres (190 km2) contiguous and an additional $25 million. Following this final sale and swap, Blixseth dissolved the Big Sky Lumber partnership and divided up the proceeds, keeping 15,000 acres (61 km2) and tens of millions in cash for himself. The cash and new acres became the foundation for Blixseth's Yellowstone Club project. Blixseth with Pittsburgh financier James L. Dolan, also started the Spanish Peaks development, a high-end but somewhat less exclusive resort on neighboring property to the Yellowstone Club with land from the swap deal. Spanish Peaks announced it was closing and filing for bankruptcy in 2011. Between sales to timber interests, developers and the U.S. government, Blixseth's team grossed $56.9 million and 47,000 acres (190 km2) of prime development real estate valued at over $100 million in less than three years from the date of their initial $27.5 million investment, of which Blixseth reportedly put less than $3 million.
Yellowstone Club, Greg LeMond and Credit Suisse controversy
With cash and land from his 1995 deal with the U.S. Forest Service, Blixseth began development of 15,000 acres (61 km2) of pristine Montana real estate outside of Big Sky. Blixseth said to a Montana Bankruptcy court as "I started the club with a pick-up truck and a hammer."
In 2005, they took in over $200 million from the sales of building lots and memberships to wealthy business leaders, media icons and celebrities. Early Club members and investors included Bill Gates, Mary Hart, Dan Quayle and Steve Case. Leading to the Club's eventual financial failure was Blixseth's dealings with cyclist Greg LeMond. In 2002 LeMond, with four other family members and associates, invested in the Yellowstone Club. Each of the five partners paid Blixseth $750,000 for one percent shares in the exclusive resort. LeMond also purchased several building lots and maintained a property at the resort. LeMond and partners sued Blixseth in 2006 following reports of a Credit Suisse loan to the resort of $375 million from which Blixseth reportedly took $209 million in a disputed partial payout for his ownership stake. Blixseth said he used the money to expand the Yellowstone Club into the Yellowstone World Club. In 2006 Blixseth told the New York Times that he "paid cash, with no help from investors, for each of the properties that make up the Yellowstone World Club."
The Credit Suisse loan was based on a $1.16 billion Cushman & Wakefield valuation of the resort and for which LeMond and partners each sought $11.6 million for their one percent shares. LeMond settled his suit with the Blixseths for $39 million in 2007.
Blixseth appealed several aspects of the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy. The judge found Blixseth's claims unconvincing, noting, "Given the evidence, Blixseth's arguments are without support" and on March 6, 2013 U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon denied Blixseth's final appeal noting his lack of standing to revisit his rejected claims of "bad faith" in the bankruptcy reorganization." In December 2013 Judge Haddon ruled Blixseth in contempt for committing fraud and deception against the Court after it was revealed that in 2011 he had illegally sold-off assets frozen by an earlier court order to cover judgments against him in the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy proceedings.
In 2006 the Blixseth's partnered with a computer software designer Dennis L. Montgomery, former Microsoft executive Michael Sandoval and former Congressman Jack Kemp to sell software they claimed could recognize patterns and objects hidden in video streams. They invested in several companies named, Blxware, xPatterns and OpSpring, and promoted their technology to the U.S. government as being able to identify hidden messages from Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al Jazeera broadcasts and find terrorists in pictures taken by CIA predator drones.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Kemp used his friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney to set up a meeting in 2006 at which Mr. Kemp, Montgomery and Ms. Blixseth met with a top Cheney adviser, Samantha Ravich, to talk about expanding the government's use of the Blxware software. Blixseth reportedly sought to sell the software to the government for $100 million; however, investigations later revealed it to be a "hoax" with CIA officials reporting they knew the technology to be fake as early as 2003.
The software was reportedly responsible for false terror alerts which grounded international flights and caused Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to raise the government's security level. In February 2006, the FBI opened an economic espionage and theft of intellectual property investigation. The U.S. Air Force office of Special Investigations is also investigating. Bloomberg news reported that Blixseth family attorney Michael Flynn represented Edra Blixseth, Montgomery and Blxware against various charges until he claimed he learned the software "was a sham," characterized Montgomery as a "con man" and quit.
"Heart of America" is a charity single written by Blixseth and his wife, Edra Blixseth. The song became the anthem for the Today TV show's "Make a Difference" campaign to benefit the victims of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. The song was recorded by Wynonna Judd, Michael McDonald, and Eric Benet. In June 2006, Ebony magazine reported the song had raised $41 million with projected revenues of $100 million. In August 2006 The Desert Sun reported the song had generated $127 million in revenues for hurricane-relief charities.
Litigation, bankruptcies and defaults
Blixseth's personal and professional life has had a number of lawsuits. Following Blixseth's claims that his legal issues are the result of government corruption and conspiracies against him, in 2010 Blixseth filed suit to have Federal Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kischer removed from a case in which the judge issued a $40 million fraud judgement against him. Blixseth alleged the judge was biased against him and had conspired with Montana state government officials and the creditors suing Blixseth. The creditors, however, also disagree with the judge and have appealed his ruling claiming they are owed $286 million by Blixseth. In response to the conspiracy and bias charges, Judge Kirscher ruled against Blixseth's request for recusal noting, "This Court has not and will not succumb to any pressure, political or otherwise." Adding, Blixseth's "ultimate goal" appeared to be to upset prior rulings in the numerous cases against him pending various appeals.
In a separate bankruptcy case against Blixseth brought by California, Idaho and Montana tax officials in Nevada seeking tens of millions in allegedly unpaid taxes, Blixseth again claimed he was the victim of conspiracy and government corruption. "The state of Montana, the Montana Department of Revenue and their partners were in cahoots", Blixseth told the Associated Press, claiming Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer conspired with his ex-wife Edra, Yellowstone Club creditors and the tax authorities in three states seeking to bring him down. Blixseth added, "It's completely and absolutely provable, and we will be bringing all the facts out shortly." The state tax authorities, creditors and Governor Schweitzer all denied the conspiracy claims as "baseless allegations" having "no factual basis." In a subsequent press release by his attorney Mike Flynn, Blixseth claimed, "All parties who played any role in the forced bankruptcy will now be subject to depositions, including Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer."
In June 2011 Blixseth filed suit against one of his personal attorneys for legal malpractice and personal injury associated with the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy. Blixseth is seeking $375 million in damages claiming his former personal attorney Stephen Brown conspired to "plot against" him in bankruptcy proceedings which found Blixseth had looted the club prior to passing it debt-ridden to his wife Edra Blixseth as part of their divorce. Brown denied the claims. Blixseth's claims were dismissed in March 2012 by U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy whose order noted, "The Bankruptcy Court addressed the Credit Suisse loan and the marital settlement agreement and concluded that (1) Mr. Blixseth fraudulently misappropriated the proceeds from the Credit Suisse loan and (2) the release in the marital settlement agreement was fraudulent." Blixseth's conspiracy and fraud allegations in the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy were vacated in July 2011 by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case who ruled the accusations were previously addressed and found without merit. Blixseth then filed suit against Credit Suisse and their appraisal company claiming they deceived and mislead him into accepting some $300 million in loan payments which eventually led to the resort's bankruptcy. A claim to which Credit Suisse responded, "This is simply the latest attempt to shift blame to others and away from his own conduct" in a Bloomberg News report which added, "Blixseth had, among other things, been ordered to pay $40 million to creditors in 2010 when a federal judge pinned the financial collapse of the ultra-exclusive Yellowstone Club on a series of his fraudulent deals." Creditors are seeking an additional $286 million in alleged misappropriated funds which trustees claim Blixseth looted from the Yellowstone Club prior to its bankruptcy. Blixseth continues to fight these claims and seeks to have the various judgments against him vacated.
Tim Blixseth has two children, son Beau and daughter Morgan, from his second wife Desiree Langlois. In 1981 he met and married his third wife Edra Denise Crocker, a partner in a local Roseburg-based hotel and restaurant business called Choo-Choo Willy's. Crocker had two children from a previous marriage, Julie Barve and Matthew Crocker.
Blixseth's third divorce from wife Edra Denise Crocker was first touted in 2009 as a case study in amicable separations where the two hashed out their agreement over wine at a Hollywood hotel without attorneys. However, wife Edra and creditors later claimed Blixseth duped her into taking on debt-encumbered assets while keeping cash and siphoning off liquid assets for himself. The debt burden which accompanied Ms. Crocker's portion of the divorce settlement subsequently forced her and the Yellowstone Club business into bankruptcy.
While initially both were quoted amicably about each other and the divorce, the tide quickly changed as the details Ms. Blixseth's newly acquired financial debts came to light. Commenting on ex-husband Tim, Ms. Blixseth told the New York Times in 2009, "I would rather feel the cold steel of a revolver in the roof of my mouth and pull the trigger than to ever think about living a day with that man again."
- Forbes Tim Blixseth, Forbes.com. Retrieved March 2011.
- Tim Blixseth claims he's too broke to comply with court order in continuing battle over Yellowstone Club, by Jeff Manning, The Oregonian, December 18, 2014.
- Former timber baron Blixseth goes on trial, accused of 'looting' $286M from Yellowstone Club, Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 23, 2010.
- Ex-billionaire to seek sanctions, Seattle Times, May 19, 2011.
- Court: Montana can pursue resort founder Tim Blixseth into bankruptcy, by The Associated Press, The Oregonian, December 18, 2012.
- 9th Circ. Upholds Contempt For Bankrupt Ski Club's Founder, by Jeff Sistrunk, Law360, October 9, 2014.
- Blixseth - Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Rules Nevada Is Proper Venue For Involuntary Bankruptcy Against Former Billionaire Because Holding Companies Formed There, by Jay Adkisson, Forbes Magazine, December 30, 2012.
- Tim Blixseth claims he's too broke to comply with court order in continuing battle over Yellowstone Club, by Jeff Manning, The Oregonian, December 18, 2014.
- Blixseth fraud trial court seeks assets and answers, New West, February 25, 2010.
- Ex-billionaire Blixseth booked into Missoula County jail; judge demands accounting for millions, by Matthew Brown, Associated Press, December 18, 2014.
- Yellowstone Ski Resort for Super Rich Files Bankruptcy, Fox News, November 12, 2008.
- Tim Blixseth asks judge to punish tax officials, will donate all punitive damages to legal aid, Tim Blixseth Press Release - PRNEWS Wire, June 2, 2011
- Cohan, William Paradise Lost, Forbes Magazine, February 6, 2008.
- Here's how Blixseth did it, Bozeman Chronicle, April 12, 2008
- Tim Blixseth, Twisted saga of a former billionaire, Property & Wealth Magazine, December 2011
- Montana's members only mountain, Oregonian, March 18, 2001
- Crown Pacific deals its way into county timber market, The Bulletin (Bend, DeChutes County, Oregon), December 2, 1988.
- "Here’s how Blixseth did ti". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
- The $100 million house the Blixseth built, Bozeman Chronicle, April 15, 2008.
- Spanish Peaks closes, employees laid off, Bozeman Chronicle, October 10, 2011.
- Tim Blixseth defends Yellowstone Club deals, New West, April 29, 2009.
- The most expensive private clubs, Forbes, September 1, 2005.
- "That’s Tim as in timber" Denver Westword News, 12 January 1994
- Club Med for the Multimillionaire Set, by Susan Dominus, New York Times Magazine, March 5, 2006.
- "LeMond claims he was swindled on Montana’s millionaire mountain" Bloomberg News, 27 October 2006
- "Greg LeMond ‘s lawsuit with exclusive club settled," "USA Today", 15 August 2008
- "LeMond continues long legal fight with Yellowstone Club" New West, 21 November 2008
- Judge: Blixseth responsible for Yellowstone Club collapse, New West, August 18, 2010
- In RE: Yellowstone Mountain Club, Timothy Blixseth Appellant, Case 2:11-cv-00071-SEH, Document 26, Filed 03/06/13 United States District Court Montana.
- Tim Blixseth in contempt for selling Mexican resort, judge says, Associated Press, December 31.2013.
- Atigeo at issue in divorce settlement, by Brier Dudley, Seattle Times, June 26, 2008.
- Yellowstone Club Chronicles: The Edra Blixseth Bankruptcy, by Jonathan Weber, New West, June 11, 2009.
- Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security, by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, New York Times, February 19, 2011.
- Programmer conned CIA, Pentagon into buying bogus anti-terror code, Wired Magazine, December 28, 2009.
- Nevada company's troubles, Las Vegas Review Journal, June 7, 2009
- Yellowstone Club Divorcee Entangled in Terrorist Software Suits, by Anthony Effinger, Bloomberg, August 29, 2008.
- US regretting dubious deal with computer programmer, Boston Globe, February 20, 2011.
- Club Med for the millionaire set, by Susan Dominus, New York Times Magazine, March 5, 2006.
- Ward, Leah (Oct 23, 2005) Considerable land swap in the works, Yakima Herald-Republic
- Heart of America on YouTube, Accessed October 2011.
- Kinnon, Joy Bennett (June 1, 2006) Eric Benet's voyage for India: singer-songwriter is balancing stardom and fatherhood., Ebony, (" It is estimated that the project will raise $100 million to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. To date, $41 million has been raised")
- Downs, Maggie (Aug 6, 2006) Blixseth's tune raises $127 million for ongoing hurricane relief efforts, The Desert Sun, August 30, 2006.
- Twisted saga involving former billionaire Tim Blixseth takes another turn, Forbes Magazine, April 7, 2011.
- Blixseth says bankruptcy judge biased, Billings Gazette, October 11, 2010
- Judge won't step down from Yellowstone bankruptcy cases, My Desert News, February 28, 2011
- Ex-billionaire takes on Montana authorities, Associated Press, May 19, 2011
- Blixseth press release, PR Newswire, May 18, 2011
- Yellowstone Club founder blames lawyer for woes, Bozeman Chronicle, June 9, 2011
- Yellowstone Club Owner's $375M Malpractice Suit Shut Down, Law360, March 5, 2012.
- Judge vacates further hearings in Montana resort bankruptcy case, Greenfield Reporter, 27 July 2011
- Resort founder sues Swiss bank for fraud, Spokesman Review, 25 July 2011
- Failed resort owner wants to join $2.5 billion lawsuit, Bloomberg News, 25 July 2011
- Yellowstone Trustee loses bid to raise $40M judgment, Law360, October 7, 2011
- A billionaire divorce - and not a lawyer in site, Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2007.
- Edra Blixseth gets the Yellowstone Club, Forbes, August 16, 2008
- Checkmate at the Yellowstone Club, New York Times, June 14, 2009