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Aspen developer countersues billionaire over Florida mansion work

Rick Carroll, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
John Paulson, pictured, is suing Aspen developer and builder Bob Bowden in Pitkin County District Court over a Florida mansion project that went over budget. Bowden is countersuing Paulson. Associated Press file

A longtime Aspen builder and developer being sued by a billionaire investor for cost overruns on a Florida project recently introduced court papers arguing that he’s actually the one owed money in the dispute.

Bob Bowden’s countersuit against John Paulson for breach of oral agreement and unjust enrichment seeks “an amount to be determined at trial.”

Bowden’s answer and counterclaims, entered June 18, were in response to Paulson’s lawsuit accusing the developer of running a $6 million mansion redevelopment project over budget by “several million dollars.” Paulson hired Bowden to work on the project’s interior design concept, layout and final plan, according to court filings.

“The parties had an amicable and friendly working relationship prior to this dispute,” Bowden’s countersuit says.

Paulson’s estate where the work took place, located in Palm Beach, Florida, was the location of a Donald Trump fundraiser held on April 6 for his presidential campaign, bringing in a record of $50.5 million at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Paulson won big in the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007-10 by betting against the U.S. housing market and making $20 billion, according to reports. Less than five years later, Paulson bought Hala Ranch property and another Starwood home for a total of $49 million from Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan in June 2012. He owns those properties through a limited liability company, Starwood Mountain Ranch, according to property records.

Meanwhile, Paulson’s lawsuit states that Bowden reneged on an agreement stipulating that he would sell back certain furniture items from the Florida home at cost — $1.5 million, the amount that Paulson originally paid for the pieces and the amount his suit says Bowden owes. The March 31 deadline to sell the furniture expired without Bowden making a sale, the suit alleges.

“Bowden promised that he would pay Paulson whatever money he received when he sold the furniture. Nevertheless, regardless of whether any furniture had sold, Bowden promised that he would pay back the entire refund” by the deadline, the suit says.

Bowden’s countersuit contends he couldn’t sell the furniture Paulson didn’t want because of their condition. Bowden also claims he wasn’t compensated for his work for Paulson.

“Upon delivery, Paulson determined that he no longer liked certain furniture and furnishings that were previously approved and demanded that Bowden take back certain pieces of furniture and furnishings,” Bowden’s filing argues. “While Bowden had no obligation to do so, Bowden stated that he would try to resell some of the furniture and furnishings that Paulson decided he did not like. Subsequently, when Bowden embarked upon reselling the furniture and furnishings, he discovered that items were not in resale condition.”

Bowden shipped the items to Paulson in Florida, raising another dispute.

“Paulson has retained numerous pieces of furniture and furnishings without paying Bowden for such items or the freight to Paulson’s property,” says Bowden’s counterclaim.

Paulson’s lawsuit was filed on May 1 in Pitkin County District Court.

David Kelly of Aspen law firm Oates Knezevich Gardenswartz Kelly & Ticsay PC filed the lawsuit on behalf of Paulson. Michelle K. Schindler of Ferguson Schindler Law Firm PC in Aspen filed Bowden’s response and counterclaims.

Courtesy of the Aspen Daily News