The 84-year-old founder of 1-800 Flowers and Katy Perry are locked in a bizarre real estate legal dispute over a $15 million mansion.
“The combination of his age, poor back condition, recent surgery, and the opioids he was taking several times a day made Mr. Westcott unsound,” said the lawsuit, which alleged Perry took advantage of Westcott being under the influence of drugs. Painkillers at the time. Perry’s camp insists Westcott was in fact of sound mind and is trying to go ahead with the deal.
A dispute over Montecito’s estate led to a law being proposed in Katy Perry’s name, with the Westcott family prompting the development of the Senior Citizens’ Estates Protection Act for Retirement Years in an attempt to reduce similar disputes with seniors. While 1-800-Flowers’ market cap is about $450 million today, Westcott sold it back in the 1980s and his net worth is now estimated at $15 million to $20 million, according to CoreStreet. He’s a fairly quiet millionaire, but his son Kurt and Kurt’s wife Cameron have become known for their appearances on the Bravo show. The Real Housewives of Dallas. To make matters even more bizarre, this isn’t even Perry’s first housing lawsuit involving a senior citizen.
The Westcott family wants the pending legislation, dubbed Katy Perry’s Law, to address “the risks of elder financial abuse, particularly as it relates to property and real estate sales and transfers,” according to the website for the proposed legislation. As part of the law, a 72-hour cooling-off period will be enacted to allow people over the age of 75 to back out of the agreement without consequences.
Westcott’s lawsuit names Bernie Godfey, Perry’s manager, as the defendant, though Perry is pushing to seek an additional $1.4 million from Westcott, citing lost income she would have received from renting out the home. The case begins in California this week.
Lawyers for both parties did not respond to requests for comment.
Godfee sought to have the case dismissed in May 2022, claiming in a legal filing that Westcott “was competent when he hired an experienced real estate broker, examined the brokerage’s commission rate, arranged showings for the property, entertained multiple offers, sought replacement homes, and ultimately negotiated a deal.” Very profitable sale.
Godfy’s lawyers also claim that Westcott expressed interest in selling the property and arranged a tour for a different potential buyer two days before he had spinal surgery (for which he needed painkillers). Filings show it took Westcott just two months to try to unload the property he bought in the wake of the pandemic when mortgage rates were in the 3% range.
Westcott purchased the eight-bedroom, 11-bathroom property in late May 2020 for $11.25 million, according to Santa Barbara County property records. In July 2020, Westcott signed a contract with Godfy to sell the sprawling nine-acre estate to the pop star and her partner Orlando Bloom. Perry’s representation argues that Westcott was, in fact, fully with him when he agreed to the deal — and was making a cool $3.75 million profit.
Perry’s previous real estate disputes with seniors
This isn’t Perry’s first rodeo when it comes to real estate conflicts with seniors. A decade ago, she was locked in a legal battle with a group of nuns who wanted to sell their convent to another buyer. In 2015, it bought the former Catholic monastery in Los Angeles for $15 million.
However, the buzz around the property began when Sister Katherine Rose Holzman and the Sisters of the Blessed and Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary sold the Los Feliz property to restaurateur Dana Hollister – who apparently owns and sells the nunneries in Los Feliz. Los Angeles area. It listed another nunnery in the area for $40 million in the spring of 2021.
But the diocese argued that Holzmann and others had no right to sell the monastery. In addition, the sale usurped an arcane rule that the Vatican must approve sales of church property worth more than $7.5 million. The property includes 30,000 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, a tower, and a house of prayer. Instead, the diocese agreed to sell to Perry, even though Hollister was already living there, leading to a legal battle.
But Perry won that case in 2016. A judge ruled that the sale to Hollister was invalid, and it had to pay the archdiocese $3.47 million in attorneys’ fees and Perry’s company $1.57 million in fees. The case came to a head when Holzman, 89, fell dead in the courtroom while fighting to stop Perry. One of the surviving nuns claimed that the death was due to Perry’s actions, adding that her hands were covered in blood. Sister Rita Callanan also appealed to Perry and the Vatican to “please stop” pursuing the purchase.
Perry appears undeterred and ready for round two. “He wanted to die in the house,” Chart Westcott, the plaintiff’s son, told Bloomberg of the disputed property. The family cites rampant elder fraud as part of the case, noting that the FBI has estimated a recent 400% increase in online scams targeting seniors.
“There are currently no laws to protect seniors from real estate transactions that unfairly target older individuals whose mental capacity may be compromised at the time of sale,” they add on the site, claiming that Perry’s Law aims to curb such abuses.
This story originally appeared on Fortune.com