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Billionaire Bill Gross donated half a million dollars to charity in an apparent effort to claim the moral high ground in a bitter feud with his southern California neighbor.
The retired bond king said he’s made good on his pledge to give away the amount of money he expects to spend on his ongoing legal battle with tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq, a bizarre saga involving a glass sculpture, surveillance cameras and old sitcom theme songs.
Gross, 76, suggested this week that he and Towfiq set aside their differences, drop their dueling lawsuits and donate their projected legal costs to charity — a proposal Towfiq’s lawyer quickly rebuffed as an “attempt to spin the media.”
But Gross — who’s worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes — said he gave $500,000 to several local charities anyway while doubling down on his demand that Towfiq join him.
“Giving money to people in need, who welcomed the unexpected donations with tears and cheers, is far more satisfying to me than spending it on lawyers,” Gross said in a Thursday statement. “If Mr. Towfiq has enough money to provide his lawyers, he can certainly afford to help others in desperate need.”
Gross doled out the money in increments ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 to nine different organizations, including the Orange County Rescue Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, a spokesman for Gross said.
Towfiq’s attorneys didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Friday. But one of his lawyers, Jennifer Keller, previously blasted Gross’ offer, saying the PIMCO founder was just trying to avoid testifying in the court case.
Gross’ appearance on the stand was reportedly delayed this week after he and his girlfriend, Amy Schwartz, were exposed to people who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gross and Towfiq have been embroiled in the nasty spat since Towfiq complained to local authorities about a protective net that Gross had installed over a glass sculpture on his Laguna Beach property.
Towfiq has alleged that Gross blasted loud music from his house — including the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song — to pressure him into dropping the complaint. Gross, in turn, has claimed Towfiq is a “peeping tom” obsessed with him and Schwartz and that he’d spied on the couple for more than a year.
One of Gross’ lawyers, Rory Miller, argued in court on Thursday that it wouldn’t make sense for him to blare loud music at his neighbor because he has Asperger’s syndrome, and people who have the condition get “particularly distressed by loud noises,” according to Bloomberg News.
Towfiq lawyer Chase Skolnick reportedly shot back that the argument “was a bit of a stretch” because Gross allegedly was inside his house with the door closed while the music played outside.