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Bill Gross is ordered back to court over music complaint

Bill Gross, founder of investment company Pimco, and partner Amy Schwartz arrive for a court hearing.
Bill Gross, founder of investment company Pimco, and his partner Amy Schwartz arrive for a court hearing in Santa Ana in December.
(Patrick Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

Billionaire bond investor Bill Gross is heading to court over his music-playing habits — again.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill ordered the retired Pimco co-founder to show up in court July 28 for a contempt hearing, after his Laguna Beach neighbor Mark Towfiq complained Gross had violated her order to keep the music down.

Gross and Towfiq, a millionaire, both have trophy homes on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But they have feuded since Towfiq complained about netting over a million-dollar piece of art in Gross’ yard. Towfiq said Gross responded by blaring TV sitcom themes, including the one for “Gilligan’s Island,” at all hours of the day.

A dispute between bond king Bill Gross and a neighbor over an outdoor sculpture has devolved into police calls to their Laguna Beach mansions.

After a trial that featured nine days of testimony, Knill ruled in December that what Gross did amounted to harassment. She ordered him to stop playing loud music in his yard when he or his wife weren’t outside and to keep at least five yards away from their neighbors.

A judge granted Mark Towfiq a civil harassment order against his Laguna Beach neighbor, the bond investor Bill Gross, who played the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ theme song loudly and often.

But a recent complaint filed by Towfiq accused Gross of violating the order July 7. It prompted an angry response from Gross’ lawyer, Jill Basinger.

“This latest filing by Mr. Towfiq is as outrageous as it is legally dubious,” she said. “He is now using a previous restraining order not to ensure his freedom from harassment, but as a weapon in his perverse obsession with the Grosses.”

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In a recent affidavit answering Towfiq’s complaint, Gross said he and Amy Schwartz, whom he married in April, turned on music “at a quiet level” while swimming after 9 p.m. July 7. Gross said he only used “small personal speakers.”

Towfiq called the police, though. Laguna Beach police officers came and left without issuing a citation, Gross said, according to court papers.

Towfiq’s lawyers then complained to Gross’ legal team about umbrellas that were put up on his property, according to a copy of an email chain the two sides exchanged.

Gross’ lawyers accused Towfiq of attempting to punish the Grosses for “daring to enjoy music while swimming” by asking the judge to ban the umbrellas.

“This is not because the umbrellas contain speakers or other amplifiers, but supposedly because they are somehow ‘harassing and intimidating,’” Gross’ lawyers said.

A lawyer for Towfiq didn’t immediately return a call or email seeking comment.

Towfiq testified last year that although the neighbors initially appeared to get along, their relationship soured after the billionaire put a net over a 22-foot-long blown glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly. Towfiq filed a complaint with Laguna Beach officials. Gross’ lawyers say Laguna Beach has since approved the installation of the sculpture.


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