This week, Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill ordered the billionaire bond investor Bill Gross and his partner Amy Schwartz, to stop violating the noise ordinances of the Laguna Beach municipal code by playing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song music on their outdoor speakers. Evidence showed that music was played so loudly it could be heard inside neighbor Mark Towfiq’s—he’s also a billionaire— home despite concrete construction and half-inch-thick, dual-pane windows.
Why was the couple inflicting the infamous earworm on their neighbor? It seems the music started when Towfiw objected to the Gross estate erecting the ugly plastic netting around a huge glass sculpture that they had installed in their back yard. When he complained, Gross, 76, and Schwartz, 51 retaliated by claiming their neighbor was a Peeping Tom. Then the the couple started inviting him to sit right down as they told a tale about a three hour tour, night after night.
The litigation, which involved teams of high-priced lawyers on both sides, commenced November 9. A city code enforcement official testified that Gross and Schwartz said they would lower the music if Towfiq dropped his complaint about the sculpture. Towfiq’s lawyers presented a text from Gross responding to their client’s request to turn down the music in which Gross wrote, “Peace on all fronts or we’ll just have nightly concerts big boy.”
Not so, Gross and Schwartz’s lawyers told the court. Their clients weren’t trying to harass their neighbor by playing the Gilligan ditty night and day, not at all. They said they just really, really liked the song. Schwartz testified, under oath, mind you, that once she and Gross discovered that the opening credits to “Gilligan’s Island” featured a scene shot in Newport Beach that was identical to a view from another home they have there, they couldn’t get enough of the tune.
Right. I have to wonder about any lawyer who would allow a client to take the stand and make a claim like that. But that’s Gross and Schwartz’s story, and they are sticking to it. After losing the “Gilligan’s Island” phase of the dispute—there are two more trials coming—Gross issued a statement saying he would “continue to dance the night away, ‘Gilligan’s Island’ forever.”
It is estimated that Gross has spent about $500,000 on the matter.