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The basketball star, the Crypto King and the $8.4M mansion

Just days after Canadian NBA player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander moved into his $8.4 million lakefront mansion, he allegedly received a threatening visit from a stranger demanding the whereabouts of Aiden Pleterski: the self-proclaimed Crypto King at the centre of a contentious bankruptcy proceeding

NBA player suing to undo home sale after alleged 'threatening visit' from man seeking Ontario's Crypto King

A men's basketball player dribbles the ball with his left hand.

A couple of days after Canadian professional basketball player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander moved into his $8.4 million lakefront mansion this spring, he allegedly received a threatening visit from a stranger demanding the whereabouts of Ontario's self-proclaimed Crypto King: Aiden Pleterski.

Pleterski, 24, had previously been leasing to own the Burlington, Ont., property for about $45,000 a month — until his cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investment operation unravelled last year as investors came looking for the more than $40 million they'd given him.

Gilgeous-Alexander claims he'd never heard of Pleterski before the man showed up at his door.

The 25-year-old is a guard with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. He placed fifth in regular season MVP voting last season and more recently led the Canadian men's national team to its first Olympic berth since 2000.

It wasn't until Gilgeous-Alexander's girlfriend called the police and discovered there had been several previous reports of threats at the home — including a threat to burn it down — that they started to learn about Pleterski's history with the property, according to court records.

The couple moved out immediately — and within a month, Gilgeous-Alexander's lawyers filed a lawsuit to try to void the sale. They claim the sellers fraudulently misrepresented the luxury home by failing to disclose an alleged series of threatening visits to the property — happening daily, at times — by those looking for Pleterski before Gilgeous-Alexander bought it.

"The defendants knew that if the history of threatening visits to the property, and ongoing risk of same, was disclosed, then no reasonable person looking at properties of that type, quality, and price would purchase it," reads the statement of claim.

In an email, a lawyer for the sellers said their clients deny there was any misrepresentation to the purchaser, but wouldn't comment further because they're awaiting a judgment in the case.

Gilgeous-Alexander and his lawyer also declined to comment because the case is before the courts.

The Toronto-born NBA player's lawsuit is just the latest twist in a more than year-long CBC Toronto investigation into Ontario's Crypto King, which has also included a search for millions in investor funds and the arrest of one his investors for allegedly kidnapping him last December.

Pleterski's bankruptcy proceeding found evidence that he invested about two per cent of investor funds while spending nearly $16 million on himself — renting private jets, going on vacations, adding luxury cars to his collection and leasing to own the Burlington property.

Pleterski leased property for $45K a month

Pleterski entered into a lease-to-own agreement for the property with a numbered company controlled by Ray Gupta, founder of the hotel and development company Sunray Group, and his son, Sandeep Gupta, in March 2021, according to court and bankruptcy records.

Sandeep Gupta acted as Pleterski's landlord while he lived in the 10,000-square-foot lakefront mansion.

Social media posts from that time showcase some of the luxury vehicles Pleterski owned or leased — more than a dozen in total — that were ultimately seized in his bankruptcy proceeding.

Pleterski transferred one of those cars, a McLaren Senna, to Sunray Group in June 2022 as collateral on the lease-to-own agreement when he could no longer make his rental payments, according to Sandeep Gupta's examination in the bankruptcy proceeding. Ownership papers for the McLaren Senna were transferred to the trustee to sell the luxury car as part of the bankruptcy proceeding earlier this year.

Sandeep Gupta also told the proceeding that Pleterski moved out of the property in June or July 2022 and into another property owned by their company, rent-free, because "there was a lot of concern for his safety."

'Randoms showing up at the house every day'

"We were having randoms showing up at the house every day," said Sandeep Gupta, in a transcript of his examination.

After Pleterski moved out, a Sunray employee moved into the property for a few months and started getting "harassed," he said.

"People were coming up to the house every single day, looking for Aiden, to the point where [our employee] wanted to have security himself there," said Sandeep Gupta in the examination.

"His wife refused to stay there. It was a — it was a very bad situation."

Gilgeous-Alexander's lawsuit lays out these details from the bankruptcy proceeding to support its claim that the agreement of purchase and sale should be rescinded for fraudulent misrepresentation.

But the Guptas' statement of defence argues there were actually only four unexpected visits to the property after Pleterski moved out and none of them were threatening.

"Each visit involves a different individual inquiring about Aiden," the statement of defence says. "With each visit, the individual left the Property immediately after being advised that Aiden did not reside there.

"The visitors did not damage the Property, enter into a verbal or physical altercation with the occupant of the Property, or otherwise disturb the peace in any manner."

Sellers argue house isn't dangerous

That court filing goes on to argue there was no duty to disclose the visits and the history of the property because they didn't make the home unfit or dangerous.

"Notwithstanding the fact that Aiden was abducted, any visit to the Property by an individual inquiring about its former occupant would be viewed as an entirely normal occurrence," reads the statement of defence.

WATCH | CBC Toronto received video of beaten Aiden Pleterski apologizing to investors

Ontario's Crypto King says video of him beaten was recorded during kidnapping

4 months ago

Duration 3:49

Featured VideoCBC Toronto received an edited video of a visibly beaten Aiden Pleterski on the same day reporters learned five men are facing charges for allegedly kidnapping him last December. One of the alleged kidnappers invested and lost $740,000.

Pleterski was allegedly kidnapped in December 2022, several months after he moved out of the Burlington mansion. This July, five men were charged with kidnapping him, including an investor who lost $740,000.

Sandeep Gupta told the bankruptcy trustee he received a call from Pleterski asking for a ransom of $3 million after the abduction. But he said he did not give Pleterski or the kidnappers the money and Pleterski was later released near Sandeep Gupta's residence, according to his bankruptcy examination transcript.

Gilgeous-Alexander's lawsuit alleges the kidnapping made it "clear that the people who had been attending at the property were not making idle threats," and alleges that's why the Guptas listed the property for sale.

'Really hard' to get out of home sale after closing

John Zinati, a Toronto real estate lawyer who has been in practice for 27 years, says he has never seen a judge order a seller to buy back a property from the buyer after the sale has concluded.

"It's a pretty high standard to get out of a deal, generally speaking," said Zinati, who is not involved in the case. "Now [if] you want to get out of a deal after you've closed it — it's really hard."

For home sales, Zinati says the general rule is "buyer beware" but there are a few exceptions — including for problems that are big enough to make a house dangerous.

"It's a tough position to take and to try and establish," said Zinati.

"The law is generally more inclined to award damages … awarding money to fix a problem, not saying you can get out of the deal."

To try to avoid surprises, real estate broker Davelle Morrison says the number one thing she does with clients is talk with neighbours of a prospective property.

"That's really the best way to get information," she said. "It's almost like gumshoe detective work to figure out if this is the right home for somebody. It's not something that you can just instantly look up on a website."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Brockbank

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Nicole Brockbank is a reporter for CBC Toronto's Enterprise Unit. Fuelled by coffee, she digs up, researches and writes original investigative and feature stories. nicole.brockbank@cbc.ca

    With files from Farrah Merali

    *****
    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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