NBA star wins lawsuit involving GTA mansion and ‘crypto king’
In rare move, judge orders reversal of sale of Burlington property
Canadian basketball star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has won a lawsuit against the company that sold him a Burlington luxury home earlier this year, with a judge ruling to reverse the sale of the mansion the athlete claimed was unsafe. It’s a decision one real estate insider called “very, very rare,” in a closely watched dispute stemming from a man known as the “crypto king” living there before Gilgeous-Alexander moved in.
The Oklahoma City Thunder player sued businessmen Sandeep and Ray Gupta, as well as numbered companies they operate and their hospitality and development firm, Sunray Group of Hotels Inc., in June.
In a November summary judgment, Justice Robert J. Centa did not find the Guptas personally liable, but said they were aware of threats against “crypto king” Aiden Pleterski from disgruntled investors.
Sandeep Gupta was so concerned about “randoms” showing up that he moved Pleterski into another property for his own safety, and when Pleterski was allegedly kidnapped in December 2022, his captors called Sandeep “multiple times over several days” asking for ransom, the decision states.
Centa found the numbered company, of which Ray Gupta is the owner and sole director, that sold Gilgeous-Alexander the home made a “fraudulent misrepresentation” and “failed to disclose” the “latent defect in the Burlington property.”
The judgment calls for a rare “rescission” of the agreement of purchase and sale as well as “equitable damages” to put the plaintiff in the position he was in before entering into the transaction.
Sumeet (Sonu) Dhanju-Dhillon, lawyer for the defendants, said in an emailed statement the company was “disappointed with the finding that safety concerns at the property in the summer of 2022 were relevant to the listing and sale of the property in 2023 and therefore intends to appeal the decision.”
“All of the other defendants were pleased that no liability was found against them,” she added.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s lawyer, John Adair, said in an email that neither he nor his client had any comment.
According to the judgment, the player, who is from the GTA, bought the $8.45-million Burlington mansion last spring to live in with his partner, Hailey Summers.
Boasting six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a private dock on Lake Ontario, per the real estate listing, it seemed like an idyllic place to start their family.
But, within days of their moving in, a stranger knocked on the door demanding to know where Pleterski was.
The couple told him to leave and later googled the name, finding Pleterski had been sued for fraud and was involved in bankruptcy proceedings. They also called the police, who told them they had received reports of people trying to break in, and a contact in private security who said someone had threatened to burn down the home, according to the decision.
Unsettled, they moved out of their “dream house” shortly after and never returned.
The “ongoing safety risk rendered the Burlington property dangerous and unfit for habitation,” Centa added.
The decision not to live there “was as understandable” as that of a couple in a previous case he cited who were not told that there was radioactive material in the neighbourhood when they moved in.
Pleterski, who went to high school in Whitby, was a celebrated figure in the crypto market until he was sued by investors and petitioned into involuntary bankruptcy.
In July, Toronto police charged four people in his alleged kidnapping. It was during this incident that the captors called Sandeep Gupta asking for money, the judgment says, and when he was eventually released, he was “dropped off in the immediate vicinity of Sandeep’s home.”
Pleterski’s lawyer, Micheal Simaan, said it would not be “appropriate to comment” on the recent ruling.
Ira Jelinek, a sales representative at Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., said it’s “very, very rare for a sale to be overturned.” Typically it’s more of a “buyer beware” situation, he said, but Gilgeous-Alexander’s high-profile case could set a precedent for other purchasers
There are always small things, like a lack of insulation, for example, that the buyer might not realize until they close and they should always do due diligence with measures like home inspections, or checking liens against a property.
“But things like what happened to him, it’s completely out of the buyer’s control.”
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited