Developer Sues Zuckerberg Over Real Estate Dispute

May 20, 2014

A real estate developer in Northern California has sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over an alleged breach of contract in a dispute over the property behind Zuckerberg's home. Mircea Voskerician says that he agreed to sell his legal stake in the property in exchange for a promise he says Zuckerberg made to introduce him to other wealthy people who might want to purchase homes.

"Zuckerberg stated he did not want construction in his backyard for 14 months and told Voskerician that he would refer him business and make him introductions if, in exchange, Voskerician would help him secure his privacy," the lawsuit alleges. But Voskerician claims Zuckerberg failed to make any introductions and referrals, and therefore breached their contract.

"Here's this guy who built his business on connections and relationships, and all he had to do was make some introductions, but he blew my client off," says David Draper, an attorney for Voskerician. The agreement to make the introductions was not in a written contract, but Draper says the verbal exchange was witnessed by other people.

Zuckerberg's attorney maintains that Zuckerberg paid Voskerician $1.7 million for the right to buy the property and called the lawsuit "meritless."

Zuckerberg has been trying to purchase several properties adjacent to his Palo Alto home in recent years. In 2012 and 2013, he paid more than $43 million in separate deals to buy four homes and lots adjoining his property. He purchased the lots after he heard the developer, Voskerician, had planned to build a large house on one of the lots behind his home.

Source: “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Sued by Developer in Real Estate Dispute,” San Jose Mercury News (May 12, 2014) and “Real Estate Developer Sues Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg,” The Associated Press (May 13, 2014)

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