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Tony Hsieh Leaves an Uncertain Legacy From His Short Time in Park City

AP File

The untimely death of former Zappos CEO and noted philanthropist Tony Hsieh leaves unanswered questions in Park City.

Hsieh’s death was announced late Friday evening. A spokesperson for Hsieh confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his death was the result of injuries sustained in a house fire in New London, Connecticut on November 18th while he was visiting family. No official cause of death has been announced. 

He was 46-years-old.

After a discreet retirement as Zappos CEO in August of this year, Hsieh went on what was characterized as a ‘home buying spree’ in Park City.

Summit County property records show LLCs linked to Hsieh purchased at least nine properties in the Park City area in the last year, including a massive 17,000 square foot mansion in the Aspen Springs area. The property contained a tennis court, private lake, and a horseback riding corral.

Outside of his business career, Hsieh gained notoriety as a philanthropist. He invested $350 million into the Freemont Street area of Las Vegas, starting in 2012. Hsieh invested in real estate, startups, and restaurants in an effort to jumpstart the area after the Great Recession.

The Review-Journal reports his efforts had varying results, but Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak credited Hsieh as playing a ‘pivotal role’ in transforming downtown Las Vegas in a tweet Friday evening.

Did Hsieh have similar intentions in Park City? 

Hsieh also purchased the Big Moose Yacht Club on Park Avenue. Former owner Nick Caravaglia confirmed to KPCW earlier this year that Hsieh expressed to him his desire to continue to use the property as an event space.

A spokesperson for Hsieh did not immediately return KPCW’s request for comment.

Local realtor Bill Ligety lives in the Aspen Springs neighborhood and said in a recent interview with La Societe Deux Magots that Hsieh paid at or above asking price for his properties and said his purchases increased the price point of the small neighborhood virtually overnight. 

Hsieh did have a reputation as a partier, however, and several Park City area residents had expressed concern over large parties at his house and dozens of busses parked at the Hilton Hotel at the Canyons Village, which were rumored to be connected with Hsieh.
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman declined an interview request but said in a statement to KPCW:

I offer deep condolences to the friends and family of Tony Hsieh. We have lost a brilliant and creative soul. He may have been new to our community, but he had a large and immediate impact. Through the depths of the pandemic closures and difficult re-opening period, he generously and quietly bolstered many of Park City’s small businesses. It was a lifeline to at least a few of them. In 2012, the Park City leadership classes visited Las Vegas to see Tony’s transformative work to revitalize Old Vegas. He had taken his earnings and community-first ethos from Zappos, and begun to apply it to improving his hometown. He had a fascination with community-building, and brought an entrepreneurial and imaginative approach to his work. Thank you to Tony for the kindness he showed our community, and we are sorry we were unable to get to know him better. We invite his friends and co-workers to stay and continue his work. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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