Following kickback claim, Amazon scrutinizes Northstar CEO’s assets, including Cherry Hills mansion and private jet

Northstar Commercial Partners CEO Brian Watson told the court he’s worth $61 million. The FBI raided his home in April. (BizDen graphic)

Amazon is closely monitoring the assets of Northstar Commercial Partners CEO Brian Watson, highlighting a mansion he bought last year along Cherry Hills Country Club and objecting to his recent sale of a downtown Denver condo.

In early July, in connection with Amazon’s lawsuit accusing Northstar of paying millions in kickbacks to secure data center development deals, the company argued that Watson and his company should have to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court after failing to deposit $21.25 million in an escrow account.

A judge ordered the deposit in early June. The amount corresponds to fees Northstar paid to a trust in connection with Amazon lease transactions in Virginia, as well as Northstar’s alleged cut of a sale of property in the state to Amazon, court records show.

Amazon alleges that two of its former employees, Casey Kirschner and Carleton Nelson, according to an executive’s affidavit, controlled the company’s real estate decisions in Virginia and had the ability to withdraw the money Northstar paid to the trust.

Northstar disputes Amazon’s account. The FBI served a search warrant at Watson’s home in April but has not publicly commented.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck attorney Stan Garnett, who represents Watson, said in court that “the Watson Defendants do not have anywhere near enough available cash or other liquid assets.”

Garnett said the company attempted to get a surety bond for $21.25 million. Of three companies contacted, however, one wasn’t willing and the other two wanted 100 percent collateral, which Watson didn’t have, he said.

The judge has yet to rule on Amazon’s request, but the company has highlighted Watson’s “significant personal assets” in court documents.

The company noted that Watson paid $6.62 million in February 2019 for a 20,000-square-foot mansion with a 16-car garage in Cherry Hills Village, abutting Cherry Hills Country Club. He also owns a 35-acre ranch near Granby, the company said.

An aerial shot of Watson’s home in Cherry Hills Village. (BizDen file)

Watson just sold a condo in downtown Denver last month, which Amazon argues violated court orders because neither Amazon nor the court were notified beforehand.

Public records show Watson’s WDC Holdings LLC sold the unit in the Palace Lofts building at 1499 Blake St. for $1.85 million, after having purchased it in October 2017 for $1.75 million.

Amazon also noted that there’s a private plane registered to a Northstar entity, a 2001 Cessna 560XL.

Watson filed a financial statement as part of his response to Amazon’s motion. He said he was worth $61.45 million as of the end of May, listing assets of $82 million and liabilities of nearly $21 million. Much of Watson’s wealth is tied up in real estate or investments in companies; he said he has $269,086 in “cash and marketable securities.”

Watson estimated the plane is worth $2 million, and said he still owes $1.5 million on it. The ranch in Grand County is worth $5.8 million, with $2.3 million still owed.

Watson’s financial statement also makes clear that he is the sole owner of Northstar Commercial Partners. He said the company and its associated property management firm are worth a combined $1.56 million.

northstar office

Northstar’s office is located at 1999 N. Broadway. (Courtesy Northstar)

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