Legendary bond investor Bill Gross has completed his mandatory community service after a California judge found him guilty of flouting a court order not to annoy his neighbor by playing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.
The billionaire founder of investment management company PIMCO and his wife Amy completed the two days of community service at a Santa Ana soup kitchen, Gross revealed in an investment note on Wednesday.
Writing in his typical tongue-in-cheek style, Gross marveled at the high-class menu options served up by the soup kitchen, and wryly noted that many of the ‘customers’ appeared more well-to-do than the bedraggled staff.
‘No downtrodden homeless people at this soup kitchen!’ wrote Gross, adding that vehicles lined up for the drive-thru meal pickup included many ‘nice SUVs and pickup trucks’.
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Legendary bond investor Bill Gross has completed his mandatory community service at a Santa Ana soup kitchen, where he marveled at the opulent meal options
Gross and his wife Amy (seen together in court) completed the two days of community service after being found guilty of flouting a court order not to annoy a neighbor by playing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island
‘Indeed, as Amy and I cut chicken for the soup and fruit for the fruit cups, we were then assigned to pass out what was actually a gorgeous enchilada lunch replete with cheesecake and chips,’ recalled Gross.
‘There were vegan meals, gluten-free meals, five kinds of bread, and orders from the cars to skip the meal but to give them mini-sacks of avocados and artichokes for special diets later in the day,’ the billionaire observed.
Neighbor Mark Towfiq has pursued a long-running legal battle with Gross
‘Many of those requesting vegan were well dressed and apparently not lacking in the finer accoutrements of daily life,’ he added.
Earlier this month, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill found Gross and Amy guilty of violating a restraining order issued in his bitter, long-running feud with tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq.
The two Laguna Beach neighbors have slung various accusations at each other, with Towfiq accusing Gross of sonic warfare for blaring the Gilligan’s Island tune on outdoor speakers, and Gross alleging that Towfiq is a ‘creepy’ Peeping Tom who films Amy on their property at all hours.
The legal battle has also included allegations that ‘star-struck’ Towfiq inconvenienced the neighborhood by renting his house out to film an episode of Ballers, and claims that Gross installed an ‘unsightly’ netting around a $1 million lawn sculpture created by renowned blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The homes of Mark Towfiq and Bill Gross are seen above in this aerial image
In 2018 Gross and his then-girlfriend Amy Schwartz purchased the property (pictured) and moved in next to Towfiq
The neighbors have been involved in a bitter dispute since last year, stemming from a $1 million lawn sculpture in Gross’ yard created by renowned blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly
Apparently, Towfiq did not have an issue with the glass sculpture until Gross began to install elaborate netting (above) to protect it from ‘vandalism’ and environmental damage
Judge Knill sentenced Gross and Amy to community service and five days in jail for continuing to play the television jingle, but the jail sentence was suspended due to COVID-19.
In his note on Wednesday, Gross slammed the judge as ‘a 57-year-old lady with pierced nose stud and visible tattoos’ who ‘only does “restraining order” cases in Orange County.’
He said that the sentence had been handed down ‘for playing 15 minutes of music at 9 pm in our backyard pool.’
‘The music was below city decibel limits but was somehow disturbing the peace of our noise-sensitive neighbor,’ wrote Gross.
‘NO police citation was issued but what the heck, a crime must have been committed if the neighbor simply called police and complained he couldn’t sleep at such a late hour,’ he added.
A Gross confidante previously explained to DailyMail.com that the Gilligan’s theme song has special meaning for the couple, because the opening credits of the 1960s show were filmed near their other home in Newport Beach.
Laguna Beach police officers are seen posing with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson outside of Towfiq’s home in May 2019, during a shoot for the HBO series Ballers that Gross says caused chaos on the street and blocked their driveway
Thanks to the court dispute, when the couple got married in April 2020 (pictured) they had to do it at their other property in Indian Wells
In his latest investment outlook note, Gross also shared his market observations, opining that the bond market’s ‘finest hour’ is behind it, ‘and is now a potential target for future bears.’
Instead, Gross recommended exposure to the natural gas infrastructure through the Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP), and gave a positive outlook for Nuance Communications and Acceleron Pharma.
Gross joked that at age 77, he was too old to play himself in a movie about his life.
‘They’re thinking of Jake Gyllenhaal! But I would have preferred Tom Hanks,’ he wrote.
Gross made his fortune running PIMCO Investment management, and his nemesis Towfiq is a tech entrepreneur. Gross purchased the Laguna Beach mansion, dubbed Rockledge-by-the-Sea, for $32million in 2018.
Towfiq built his dream home on the lot next door after purchasing it in 2009 and winning a protracted legal battle with another neighbor who claimed the project would impede coastal access.
Gross’s neighbor Towfiq (pictured) accused Gross of trying to get revenge for his complaints about the netting by playing music at extreme volumes, specifically the Gilligan’s Island theme
Gross’s wife Amy is scared to enjoy her oceanfront Laguna Beach backyard thanks to an ongoing petty fight with her neighbor over loud music, ‘unsightly’ netting on lawn sculpture
At one point in the legal battle, Towfiq rejected Gross’s offer to settle their cases by making donations to charity, dismissing the move as a stunt.
Gross went on to donate $500,000 to an organization regardless, in a bid to shame his opponent into settling the case.
Gross announced that he was giving the money to food banks and other charities supporting COVID relief efforts around his Laguna Beach home.
He also issued a press release describing the donation as ‘a reasonable, mutually beneficial, public offer to my neighbor to settle our ongoing dispute and donate what we have spent so far, and will spend, in legal fees and court costs to Orange County foodbanks and other charities providing critical assistance in this time of need’.
Gross said he had calculated his legal fees and prospective expenses, and donated the cash instead.
‘I believed, and still believe, that our mutual resources would be better spent in the midst of a global pandemic assisting those in need rather than on lawyers,’ he said.
‘I also believe the limited resources of the court should be reserved for more urgent matters instead of a dispute among neighbors.’
Bill Gross’ full investment note
Full text of Bill Gross October 13, 2021, Investment Outlook:
You Only Hang Twice
Just last week I was approached by a Hollywood producer to be the consultant on a new James Bond sequel to be titled “You Only Hang twice”. Having received a restraining order nine months ago in the famous Gilligan’s Island trial, I and my wife Amy had just been sentenced to five days in jail (with time off for community service) for playing 15 minutes of music at 9 pm in our backyard pool. The music was below city decibel limits but was somehow disturbing the peace of our noise-sensitive neighbor. NO police citation was issued but what the heck, a crime must have been committed if the neighbor simply called police and complained he couldn’t sleep at such a late hour.
Enter the hanging judge of the Laguna Beach shore, a 57-year-old lady with pierced nose stud and visible tattoos, to retry and rehang the highly visible target of Bill Gross – ex-Bond King and obviously still “full of himself” senior citizen. She would try me twice, she would hang me twice – thus opening a potential career in Hollywood for me and her at a point in my life when climbing the stairs was taking up an increasing amount of my daily routine. The judge I have since learned only does “restraining order” cases in Orange County, but these two trials encompassing four weeks of court time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees (a mere $1,200 fine for me though) could presumably be a stepping stone for the judge for greater court assignments. Even the appellate court. But perhaps my fury runneth over a little too much here. Time will tell but in any case, she’ll have a prominent place in the script and may even get to act in her own role. I’m too old for my part it seems. They’re thinking of Jake Gyllenhaal! But I would have preferred Tom Hanks.
Anyway, the interesting part of all this to me was our immediate assignment to the Santa Ana soup kitchen for two days of community service. No orange suit duty on the highway thank goodness, just two days at nearby Santa Ana where coincidentally I had volunteered several times in the past to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Like one of my friends remarked at a lunch last week, “Community service? Gross has performed and provided more community service in the past 20 years than anyone in Orange County history!” But no matter – truth, justice, the American way, and judicial ambition would prevail.
But here’s the interesting part. Having volunteered at this same soup kitchen before, I was expecting a similar cast of “down and out” people in need of a hot lunch. Indeed, as Amy and I cut chicken for the soup and fruit for the fruit cups, we were then assigned to pass out what was actually a gorgeous enchilada lunch replete with cheesecake and chips when the doors opened at noon. Due to COVID, however, there was no indoor dining – in fact the new routine featured a drive-through lane where a large percentage of cars were nice SUVs and pickup trucks. “Say what?” I whispered to Amy. Each “customer” was handed a meal with more calories than the ones at a McDonald’s drive-through and in addition, many special requests were fulfilled. No downtrodden homeless people at this soup kitchen! There were vegan meals, gluten-free meals, five kinds of bread, and orders from the cars to skip the meal but to give them mini-sacks of avocados and artichokes for special diets later in the day. There was one request for a feminine hygiene package and several for prophylactics. But not to be outdone, requests for “doggie bites” and cat food kept Amy and I scrambling from noon to 3 pm. “Hundreds were served” to use the McDonald’s phrase, and well served I might add. We worked beside a volunteer who told us he came two days a week to feel good about helping other people. He was a little bedraggled looking and had to take the bus from Long Beach to get there. I told him that was a wonderful gesture but silently thought to myself, “Buddy, you’ve been screwed. They’re living better than you”.
And so perhaps we have all been screwed if the Santa Ana soup kitchen is any example. A trophy for every kid has moved up the maturity ladder to an artichoke for every adult. Many of those requesting vegan were well dressed and apparently not lacking in the finer accoutrements of daily life. “We can’t discriminate against those who have already been discriminated against,” remarked one of the permanent staff. “We can’t deny them twice”. Ah yes I said to myself – I know what you mean.
Over the years it seems, investors have been screwed many times, but usually just the pigs in the well-worn phrase of, “Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered.” Actually, bears have very little to show for their efforts in the past few years except for recent shorts in GameStop and AMC which I continue to recommend shorting with the caution that volcanoes erupt every once in a while. But it’s the bond market that may have seen its finest hour and is now a potential target for future bears. Readers are familiar I’m sure with all of the Fed speak and fears, or lack of fear, about future inflation. Like I’ve recently observed, markets have likely seen their secular, long term lows in interest rates but expectations for a 30-year bear market to match the previous 30-year bull market are way overdone. The 10-year Treasury now at 1.60% is likely headed to 2% over the next 12 months which is bearish and likely to provide a negative sign in front of 2022 total returns for bond holders, but that is no disaster. Bonds are “garbage” like I’d wrote last month but only in the sense that you’d be better off with alternatives like NUAN (a Microsoft acquisition likely to return 8% annualized before year end) or XLRN (a Merck acquisition likely to do the same). Bonds’ “days of wine and roses” may be over but the above artichoke and avocado recommendations may do nicely while investors wait out uncertainties related to the U.S. budget, GDP growth in China, and runups in energy prices as we approach winter in the Northern hemisphere.
My portfolio is also well stocked with natural gas pipeline partnerships that are listed on the NYSE and offer deferred tax payments on dividends that yield 7-10% at current market prices. Individual investors don’t like these companies because of complicated April tax reporting requirements and most mutual funds and institutions don’t buy them because they are technically partnerships and not stocks. Sponsorship therefore is lacking but that is why they yield 7-10% tax deferred. They are of course sensitive to oil prices so be careful but their prospects at $70-80 oil are good and 7-10% will likely be a pretty decent return if interest rates rise even a little toward 2%. For those investors willing to take the plunge, a natural gas pipeline ETF of substantial size that yields 7.2% and is technically a stock — not a partnership — might fill your portfolio needs. Its symbol is AMLP. No guarantees here – prices will fluctuate as they say – but then in this case you can only hang me once. I’ll reserve the second time for a later Investment Outlook!