Tony Hsieh Emaciated, Holding Whippet in Photo Taken Two Months Before 2020 Death

Tony Hsieh Emaciated, Holding Whippet in Photo Taken Two Months Before 2020 Death

Posted on: April 4, 2023, 08:42h. 

Last updated on: April 4, 2023, 08:50h.

Tony Hsieh, the late Zappos CEO who died suddenly in November 2020, appears emaciated and is shown holding a whippet inhalant canister in a newly released photograph.

Tony Hsieh death Las Vegas Zappos
Tony Hsieh in a September 2020 photograph. The late Zappos CEO and downtown Las Vegas visionary was reportedly addicted to dangerous whippets prior to his untimely November 2020 death. (Image: Clark County District Court)

Hsieh was an early internet tech entrepreneur who initially made his wealth by co-founding the online advertising network LinkExchange soon after graduating from Harvard University. Hsieh sold to LinkExchange to Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million.

After becoming a major investor in the online shoe retailer Zappos, Hsieh was appointed CEO in 2001. The company reported gross sales of just $1.6 million in the year prior to Hsieh assuming control. Zappos’ gross sales reached $184 million just three years later and ballooned to north of $1 billion annually by 2008.

Zappos was acquired by Amazon in 2009, with Hsieh receiving yet another buyout windfall. Hsieh’s share from the sale was reportedly worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars. Hsieh stayed on as Zappos CEO until retiring in August 2020.

During his leadership, Hsieh, a poker fanatic, relocated Zappos from San Francisco to Henderson, Nev. in 2001, and later to downtown Las Vegas. The company, at Hsieh’s direction, played a pivotal role in the transformation of downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Street area.

Zappos was also a prominent community partner. In 2017, the company offered to pay the funeral expenses for all victims of the October 1 mass shooting.

Disturbing Photo

Hsieh died tragically at the age of 46 while visiting family in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. It was the morning of Nov. 18, 2020, when firefighters responded to a call in New London.

First responders said a small pool shed had been engulfed in flames. It was later revealed that Hsieh died while trapped inside the shed. A medical examiner concluded Hsieh died from smoke inhalation and the death was an accident.

But suspicious evidence surrounded the incident. The pool shed was reportedly filled with candles, which Hsieh was known to enjoy. A propane heater was also inside the shed, seemingly suggesting he was spending considerable time in the hut.

A newly disclosed photograph from September 2020 released through court records shows a sickly-looking Hsieh. The disclosure is a result of the ongoing legal challenges regarding Hsieh’s estate, which was worth $840 million at the time of his death.

In the photo, Hsieh appears frail to the point of emaciation. The former tech boss is seen holding a whippet canister.

According to WebMD, whippets are popular party inhalant drugs that involve the user quickly inhaling nitrous oxide. The medical self-help website says whippet use lowers one’s ability to sense pain, sound, and touch, affects the brain’s emotional responses, and can cause hallucinations, delusions, and false beliefs.

Estate Battle

Lawyers for Hsieh’s estate say their late client’s physical and mental state rendered him incompetent to sign wills and other legal contracts in the months before his death. The crux of the estate dilemma surrounds so-called “friends” who said Hsieh promised them money before his untimely death. Some of those promises were made out on Post-it notes and loose paper.

Multiple individuals seized on Tony’s vulnerability to enrich themselves at Tony’s expense,” lawyers for the Hsieh estate wrote in recent court documents. “Dozens of separate and distinct transactions and financial commitments were procured from Tony in his diminished state, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of Tony’s money being spent by the time of his death.”

Hsieh’s family said in court documents that Hsieh was using “as many as 50 cartridges of nitrous oxide a day, often in public, or during ‘meetings.’” His bedroom was reportedly “littered with hundreds of spent nitrous oxide cartridges.”

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