Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate title=
The gate to Ty Warner's Channel Drive estate, where his ex-partner claims she was kept under 24-hour surveillance and never allowed to leave. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

The longtime partner of Ty Warner is suing the Beanie Baby tycoon for half of his estimated $400 million Montecito estate after their “marriage-like” relationship ended in November amid what she claims were years of abuse.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court, Kathryn Zimmie, 85, alleges she “fled” the five-parcel compound on Channel Drive last year “out of fear for her well-being and safety,” leaving behind all of her clothing and personal possessions.

Now living in Los Angeles, Zimmie insists she is entitled to substantial compensation from Warner, 77, as she acted as his “companion, confidante, protector, and helpmate” for the better part of two decades with a longstanding promise from him that she would be financially cared for “fairly and forever.” Zimmie is also demanding the return of dozens of her original paintings ― described as abstract pieces in the style of artist Helen Frankenthaler ― that adorn Warner’s many hotel properties. 

Through an attorney, Warner said all of the accusations against him were untrue. “This lawsuit is a money grab filled with lies,” said Gregory Scandaglia in an email to the Independent.

While Warner and Zimmie were never officially married, the lawsuit states, they publicly presented themselves as such and both wore wedding rings. In 2002, Zimmie claimed, Warner proposed to her and “wrote his promise of marriage on a note that she kept in her possession,” but which he later allegedly stole and destroyed. They’d also discussed a prenuptial agreement, she said, but none was ever drafted or executed.

In 2012, the lawsuit claims, years of broken promises and controlling behavior culminated in a physical incident in a bathroom at the Four Seasons New York, which Warner owns in addition to the Four Seasons Biltmore, Coral Casino, Montecito Country Club, San Ysidro Ranch, and Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood resort in Mexico, where he has another mansion.

When Zimmie told Warner she was leaving him, he allegedly placed his hands around her neck and told her, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” “Warner squeezed Zimmie’s throat so hard that she realized that her life was in danger if she ever left him,” the suit says. 

Zimmie claims she was put under constant video surveillance at their Montecito estate ― where Warner had designed and built an art studio for her and a private bedroom for her granddaughter ― and she told a friend to “keep searching for her if she ever turned up missing.”

More recently, Zimmie began using a cane, which Warner reportedly didn’t like. He would allegedly hide it from her, then reprimand her for steadying herself with walls and objects around the home. Warner also berated Zimmie for not finishing her meals, coughing excessively, and spending too much time away from him in separate areas of their estate, shouting “Katie! Katie! Katie!” until she returned to his side, the complaint states.

In addition to the allegations of emotional distress, for which she’s seeking punitive damages, Zimmie also accused Warner of committing financial fraud. She claims he used her identity without her knowledge to create a shell company ― Cleveland Design Consultants, LLC ― to hide some of his assets. She referenced his previous 2014 conviction for tax evasion and alleged that the approximately 50 wire transfers to Cleveland Designs in 2019 and 2020 “constitute a pattern of deceit.”

“In the wake of Ms. Zimmie’s decision to end her relationship with Mr. Warner,” Scandaglia said, “she has filed a sensationalized lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions of dollars of his earnings and assets. Her claims have no legal basis and are entirely without merit. Mr. Warner denies her allegations and will defend against them vigorously in court.”

Warner is currently fighting a separate lawsuit filed by Biltmore employees over their indefinite pandemic furlough, and another by a neighbor of his Montecito Country Club who says the noise from its unpermitted sports complex, which is now seeking after-the-fact approval from the city, is too loud.

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RHS Sep 04, 2021 12:49 PM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

Oldest trick in the books, greedy wealthy avaricious, selfish people use whatever scheme they can find to lie and steal for their own profit. No reason to think this creepy guy was not what she says but there is reason to suspect that she would be untruthful if she denied she went along with it at the time. A pox on both houses. We need to go back to a meaningful inheritance tax and a limit to how wealth can be passed from rich generation to rich generation while the people scammed to get that wealth are driven further into economic trouble.

Byzantium Sep 04, 2021 01:12 PM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

RHS: Someone else's wealth is not yours to pass on; it is their private property already subject to too much government confiscation. Go create your own and stop resenting those who have created nice estates. Warner had a simple idea, worked it out in his apartment. Public liked it and chose to buy it, creating significant wealth for himself, by himself. If you can't think of making money off small stuffed animals yourself, it is not his fault. So no, you don't have any right to resent him and demand he "share his wealth" via even more punitive inheritance taxes.

RHS Sep 05, 2021 08:43 AM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

Byz: It is not the silly business that Warner ran but the laws and schemes that allowed him to accumulate so much wealth and never share it with the greater community that he scammed it from. Guthrie got it right:
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

Byzantium Sep 05, 2021 09:27 AM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

RHS: Warner scammed no one. He built a product people liked and they bought it. Your's is the scam - how did you ever develop a belief system that demands someone is supposed to "share" their earnings with you? This underscores a fundamental difference in political thinking about money: liberals think the government owns all money earned by individuals, who are allowed to keep a portion of it only if the government lets them. Conservatives think just the opposite: all earned money belongs first to them not the government. And they grudgingly hand over only as little as legally possible to the government. A "fair share" of private wealth due a government is the amount left after applying every single tax law on the books for one's own advantage, and not handing over a single dime more than legally required. On the other hand, charitable donations are where private individuals choose to donate their money in support a worthy causes and there are no limits to this voluntary "fair share" wealth reallocation.

RHS Sep 05, 2021 01:29 PM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

Warner used a large number of laws to facilitate his scheme. He got tax breaks/write offs for example. He got to write off financing. He put his manufacturing overseas to save on labor and environmental costs. He almost certainly used laws allowing him to revalue the product he produced by claiming they were purchased by a wholesaler and then sold in the US for a bit more. The wholesaler operated outside the US tax system and probably paid no taxes. He then put his money in real estate which is rife with schemes for avoid, delay, pass along and never pay schemes that he and his ilk pushed. You and I almost certainly paid a much larger percentage of our income in taxes than did he. We may have paid a larger total altogether. These are just some of the ways taxes are avoided, as Leona Helmsley noted, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." (or words to that effect) So it is not the reasonable or even excess money that this guy made, it is the blatant unfairness and selfishness that he and such represent. Sorry you can't see it but your admiration for 'success' seems to blind you to critical evaluation and how that 'success' messes unfairly with your interests.

PitMix Sep 07, 2021 08:06 AM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

Cons like to think their success is all their own- that they didn't import their product through ports paid for by everyone, transported on roads paid for by everyone, with banking and payment systems supported by everyone, using educated labor from public schools. Show me one nation that is truly 100% capitalist and I'll show you a dysfunctional society.

Luvaduck Sep 05, 2021 10:43 AM
Ty Warner’s Ex Alleges Abuse, Sues for Half of $400 Million Montecito Estate

How much longer do either of them expect to live? His, hers, theirs, given the difference in their genders and ages, mortuary tables would probably give them the same number of years left. $400M, $200M won't make a difference in lifestyle per year. He/she/they have more fun figuring out what pet cause they want to gift a significant part of it or the government will distribute it for them in ways both might violently disagree with. One thing's sure: There are no pockets in funeral shrouds.

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