1. $1.8B Ruling Against NAR Opens Dual Pain Windows
Real estate agents are flipping – out, not houses. A successful class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors and two large brokers could renovate, maybe gut, how agents get paid. More than 260K home sellers in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois won a $1.8B settlement arguing that NAR’S compensation rule on its multiple-listings services (MLS) illegally adds square footage to agents’ commissions. Home sellers pay the seller and buyer agent’s fees. Plaintiffs claimed NAR picket-fenced homeowners into a beautifully maintained system with no ability to negotiate, violating antitrust laws. The suit’s walking distance from a federal antitrust investigation. How are realtors taking the news? Cards on the granite countertops – not well.
2. Dude, where’s my power? Pot farm feud heats up
Speaking of realtors, a former Florida flipper who quit the biz to grow marijuana in Colorado’s cannabis business park, Area 420, may lose his green acres. He pipe dreamed of building a large indoor MJ farm and paid $200K for land. According to the contract he would pay the rest after electricity was installed. That never happened so he didn’t pay – though he did spend $2M on construction. Area 420’s owner is suing, claiming nothing was baked into the contract requiring it to provide the power, plus the electricity he needs to run his joint exponentially exceeds every other business in the park. Perhaps someone didn’t do their doobie diligence.
3. Big Tech’s Planned Utopia is Farmers’ Nightmare
A Silicon Valley-backed company planning a brave new world northeast of San Francisco is suing area landowners for allegedly conspiring to inflate the value of their land. Flannery Associates spent $800M buying 52K acres of farmland to build a utopian, sustainable city. They seek $510M in damages or triple the amount of the alleged price fixing. The defendants accuse Flannery, which includes Sequoia Capital Chairman Mike Moritz, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, and others, of using tactics that were less fair and more Fahrenheit 451. They claim Flannery strong-armed farmers who didn’t want to sell, pitted families against each other, and threatened costly litigation to force sales.
4. Things Get Real for Fake Rabbi Billionaire, L&T Buyer
A fraudulent billionaire rabbi/astrologer/spy will soon adopt another persona – this one’s legit – inmate. The 57-year-old, who put in a $290M bid to buy Lord & Taylor as fake as his PH.D., pleaded guilty to scamming a friend and widow with four children out of $3.8M. He received 8 ½ years and will pay back the money he stole. Prosecutors say his lies include (this could take a minute): He was worth $30B, had worked for the CIA, the LAPD, used his astrology expertise to pick the jury for O.J. Simpson’s murder trial (our favorite), earned a doctorate in theoretical mathematics and statistics, operated a family investment firm, and became a rabbi. Mazel.
5. Bowl Movement: Arrest in Stolen Gold Toilet
UK prosecutors have charged four men with stealing a solid 18-carat gold toilet from Winston Churchill’s birthplace in 2019. The fully functioning, 55-pound throne, valued at nearly $6M was on display at Blenheim Palace as part of an art installation, called “America.” Potty in the USA we guess. Viewers were allowed to “make use of the satirical fixture individually and privately.” Yep, that means what you think it does. And because it was connected to the plumbing system, its removal significantly damaged and flooded the museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite the arrests, investigators haven’t flushed out the toilet’s location. They suspect somebody melted it down.