Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings, believes that he and his family will be brought in danger if New Jersey Court Judge Deanne Wilson makes their net worth public. The Star Tribune reported on Wednesday that Wilf released a court document pleading that Judge Wilson reverse the ruling she made on Monday to release his net worth. Wilf writes that he believes that it "will pose a serious threat to me and my family". He also believes that "malicious individuals" could possible inflict physical harm on him and his family or extort them for money because of her ruling.
A month ago, Judge Wilson determined that Wilf, his brother Mike and cousin Leonard, treated their business partners Ada Reichmann and her brother, Josef Halpern, unfairly 21-years-ago. The plaintiffs, sued Wilf for $51 million. Following the verdict and at the request of Governor Mark Dayton, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, started an investigation into the states and city of Minneapolis' deal with the Vikings and Wilf. State investigators have determined that Wilf will be able to keep his end of the financial agreement, which requires him to pay $477 million of the new Vikings stadium construction costs.
MSFA investigators claimed that Wilf & Co. weren't willing to provide them with proper financial documents, which would give investigators a clearer picture of the families net worth. Wilf & Co. buckled under pressure and gave in after investigators publicly scrutinized them via the media. Of course the families lawyers were able to look over the documents before they were given to MSFA investigators. During the civil case in New Jersey, Judge Wilson believed that Wilf & Co. didn't present her with legitimate financial documents. Who knows what they handed over to the state investigators in Minnesota.
Wilf & Co. also believe that if their net worth is made public it will have a negative affects on their future business deals. They believe that it will directly "damage" Wilf & Co.'s business plans and "without doubt" give their business competitors "information that could be used against us in future dealings, including but not limited to, the ability to tailor negotiations with respect to proposed transactions.".
Alan Lebensfeld, a lawyer in the case arguing for disclosure, says that Wilf & Co.'s lawyers are rattling "off a 'parade of horribles' that is long on innuendo but short on any detail" on how the family could specifically be harmed. "The Wilf's, have a reputation as billionaires with multiple, multistate real estate and sports holdings. They are quasi-public figures, both in Minnesota and New Jersey," said Lebensfeld. Judge Wilson also doesn't seem to buy into Wilf & Co.'s appeal of her ruling. After making her ruling, on Monday, she said that estimates of Wilf & Co.'s net worth could be found on the internet and that they had chosen to have a high profile life. "If one is reclusive about one's net worth, I think you probably don't become the owner of an [National Football League] franchise," said Judge Wilson.
It's funny how Vikings spokesperson Lester Bagley continuously stated, after the New Jersey civil case verdict, that it would have no affect on the new Vikings stadium deal. A lawsuit settlement of $51 million would hurt anyone's wallet, even if you are a billionaire.