Halsey Minor owes California $13 million


Halsey Minor, owner of the Landmark Hotel on the Downtown Mall, is back in the spotlight for money trouble. This time, however, it concerns Minor’s personal finances.

Parse this logic: Halsey Minor says his spot atop California’s list of tax delinquents is proof of his financial health. “Given that no one generates taxes without making money, I would say this would lay to rest the argument that I am not doing well.”

The California Franchise Tax Board recently released its list of 250 delinquent taxpayers and Minor, along with his wife, are at the top. According to the agency, the Minors owe the state of California more than $13 million in personal income taxes—$13,120,479.39, to be exact. The total is roughly $5 million greater than that of the runner-up, Asset Liquidation Group, Inc. The tax lien against Minor was filed in July.

“The number is correct,” Minor tells C-VILLE via e-mail. “We have a 10 [percent] tax rate in California and I have made roughly the same amount every year. You can figure my earnings.”

Minor contends that his personal financial woes are due to a sudden freeze by subsidiaries of financial management giant Merrill Lynch on a $25 million line of credit secured by works of art. Minor says that his liquidity decreased due to the freeze. 

“I have paid roughly $150 million in taxes over the last 10 years but I have never before had Merrill Lynch illegally constricting my liquidity,” writes Minor.

Minor adds, “I have been paying off the state of California but they are aware of the illegal liens Merrill [Lynch] has placed on my assets.”

Ultimately, Minor quells rumors regarding the calamitous state of his personal finances. “Given that no one generates taxes without making money, I would say this would lay to rest the argument that I am not doing well…” he says. “I am not sure how many people have made $130 million over the last several years. It also proves the difficulties Merrill has created, all of which will be tried in front of a jury in California [on] January 25, 2011.” 

The CNET founder has some good company on the tax board’s list. Also included: Former Baywatch bombshell and current “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Pamela Anderson, who allegedly owes just shy of $500,000 in personal income taxes.  

Earlier in the year, Minor twice saved his 206-acre Fox Ridge property in Albemarle County from foreclosure. The first time, he won off interested buyers with a $1.3 million bid on the second loan used to finance the property.  The next time, Minor avoided the public sale by making the first mortgage current.

Meanwhile, Minor’s Landmark Hotel sits empty while city crews work on a beautification project on Second Street. According to a city report, City Council approved the $808,000 streetscaping project along the street, and it includes storm sewer work, utility work for the dormant hotel, rebricking of the Mall and landscaping. The city hopes to have it done in a month.