The embattled CEO of Northstar Commercial Partners has sold his Cherry Hills Village mansion for $8.5 million.
But Brian Watson feared a recently appointed receiver might cancel it in the final stretch before the deal closed, court records show.
Amazon has accused Northstar, which is fully owned by Watson, of bribing two Amazon employees in order to win data center development deals in northern Virginia. Watson, who was the Republican nominee for Colorado State Treasurer in 2018, has denied wrongdoing.
But the litigation has “devastated” his business, Watson has said in court documents, forcing him to let go of staff and sell off many of Northstar’s real estate holdings.
Watson initially put his 20,000-square-foot mansion abutting Cherry Hills Country Club up for sale in December 2020. The initial asking price of $8.3 million was later increased to just under $10 million.
The last-minute drama surrounding the sale of the home this month revolves around the appointment last month of a receiver overseeing the assets of both Northstar and Watson.
Watson was originally slated to sell his home on Dec. 9, according to court records. But two days before that, an atypical filing appeared in the court docket of the lawsuit that Northstar faces from Amazon.
It was filed by receiver Mark Roberts, who said he’d only recently learned of the pending sale.
Roberts asked the court for an emergency hearing to essentially address one question: Shouldn’t he, as receiver, have to approve this sale?
Roberts said he believed the answer was yes, but that Watson and his attorneys were pushing back against that notion.
“Mr. Watson and his counsel have repeatedly asserted that, because of their contention that the Home is owned by the Brian Watson Revocable Trust (for which Brian Watson allegedly acts as trustee), the Receiver has no right to control the disposition of the Home,” Roberts wrote in court documents.
In an email, which was attached to Robert’s request, Watson said the home was set to sell for $8.5 million — but that, if the receiver decided to cancel the sale, it “could cause economic damages exceeding $145,000,000.”
First, Watson wrote, there was the $8.5 million that wouldn’t be paid. Then there was the fact that there were four deeds of trust or liens against the property, totaling $12.5 million, and he was behind on payments for all of them. If the sale didn’t go through, he’d owe more interest and foreclosure proceedings could begin, Watson wrote, saying this could result in him filing for bankruptcy.
Watson said some of the sale proceeds were going to be used to pay interest on another property of his, so foreclosure proceedings could begin there, too. He said he was also set to pay $493,000 in brokerage fees, and that his real estate agents might sue him if the sale didn’t happen. A lawsuit from the buyers was also possible, he said.
But the big factor behind the $145 million calculation, Watson wrote, was that Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck — the Denver law firm representing him in the Amazon litigation — had one of the liens on the property, and might stop representing him if they weren’t paid.
“This lack of legal representation could create exposure for untold millions upon millions of dollars, let alone a proper legal representation in a Court of Law to give us a fair chance/trial against corporate behemoths like Amazon and others,” Watson wrote. “We also have existing and potential claims against individuals/companies/groups that we believe owe us approximately $100,000,000.”
Roberts, the receiver, said in court documents that the liens were the main reason he wanted to weigh in on the sale.
“Based on a preliminary review of the deeds of trust recorded as to the Home, the Receiver has reason to believe that certain liens asserted against the Home may be defective or otherwise subject to challenge or dispute by the Receiver or other parties with standing,” Roberts wrote.
On Dec. 8, one day before the intended closing date, Judge Liam O’Grady ruled in favor of the receiver.
“The Receiver has authority to determine whether the sale of the property is in the best interest of his duties and, if so, what should be done with the proceeds,” Judge Liam O’Grady wrote. “The property is clearly a Watson asset.”
But Roberts ultimately didn’t nix the sale. The deal closed on Dec. 17, eight days later than originally planned.
The buyers were Raminder Mann and Ramneet Mann, according to public records. Raminder Mann is CEO of Albuquerque-based IT firm Advanced Network Management, which has offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, according to the company’s website.
Brigette Modglin and Jay Modglin were the listing agents. Patti Helm, Libby Weaver and Pamela Helm of Compass represented the buyer.
The sale of Watson’s home is one of the priciest residential sales to close in the Denver area in 2021. The top spot is held by Mike Shanahan’s former mansion in Cherry Hills Village, which sold for $15.7 million in October.