California: Pop star Katy Perry can go ahead with the purchase of a $15 million estate in Montecito, California, from the founder of 1-800-Flowers after a judge ruled that painkillers didn't prevent the businessman from being able to make the deal.
The high-profile fight over the 11-bedroom home pit the "I Kissed a Girl" singer against Carl Westcott, the former private equity manager and serial entrepreneur who originated the dial-a-florist phone number. Westcott, who is no longer affiliated with the flower company, says he didn't want to sell and wasn't of sound mind when he made the deal.
Judge Joseph Lipner, who oversaw a non-jury trial in October in Los Angeles, said in his tentative judgment that there was "no credible evidence" that the 83-year-old Westcott was unable to make the deal in 2020.
"The contract that Westcott negotiated and signed yielded Westcott a $3.75 million gross profit," Lipner said in his decision Tuesday. "Moreover, Westcott entered into other contracts shortly before and shortly after the contract at issue here. Westcott has not attempted to rescind any of these other contracts for lack of capacity."
Lipner ordered the sale take place and scheduled a February hearing to determine whether additional damages were appropriate. Perry is seeking $1.4 million to cover what she could have earned from renting out the house, had the sale proceeded as planned.
Chart Westcott, one of Westcott's children, said in a statement that Perry's demand for damages contradicts claims her real estate manager made in court filings that she planned to live in the house.
"Perry has put herself in a box by claiming that she lost years of rental income and is owed damages, which is counter to her sworn statements," he said in a statement. "We hope Ms. Perry enjoys her pyrrhic victory, as she explains to her fans about" taking homes from the elderly.
Eric Rowen, an attorney representing Perry's real estate manager, applauded the decision and said it was clear that Westcott "engaged in complex negotiations over several weeks with multiple parties to transact a lucrative sale of the property that netted him a substantial profit."
In a statement, Rowen said, "The evidence shows that Mr. Westcott breached the contract for no other reason than he had changed his mind."
The house is in the exclusive enclave of Montecito, outside Santa Barbara, which is home to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt. Westcott bought it in May 2020 for $11.25 million, but by July signed a contract with Perry's business manager, Bernie Gudvi, to sell the place for $15 million.
Within days, Westcott changed his mind. He claimed that he had been taking painkillers after major surgery and was in no condition to enter a contract to sell the home "- where he intended to live the remainder of his life.
Chart Westcott said his father's health is failing and he was admitted to a full-time medical facility after the case started. Medical records at trial indicated that he is displaying early signs of dementia and experiencing tremors associated with Huntington's disease, a rare, inherited neurological condition that impairs functional abilities.
This isn't the first time Perry has run into real estate trouble. In 2015, she bought a former Catholic convent in Los Angeles for $15 million, over the objections of nuns who once lived there. The nuns wanted to sell the property to a different buyer.