Vikings owners Zygi Wilf, right, and brother Mark Wilf.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune file

Lenny Wilf

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N.J. judge gives Wilfs second chance to keep wealth private

  • Article by: associated press
  • December 19, 2013 - 11:26 PM

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf have been granted a new chance to convince a court that the scope of their personal wealth should remain private.

The Wilfs’ net worth was supposed to be revealed as part of a court order expected Friday in a civil fraud case that could cost the Wilfs and their cousin Leonard Wilf more than $100 million. But the judge in the case agreed Thursday to give lawyers for the Wilfs until Jan. 8 to file an appeal outlining why the release of that information should be stopped, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

It was the second time New Jersey State Judge Deanne Wilson allowed the Wilfs to keep their financial affairs private. Wilson said in September that the information should be released as part of the lawsuit the Wilfs lost. But she agreed to keep the numbers sealed while the family sought an emergency appeal.

An appeals court refused the case in December, kicking the decision back to Wilson. She agreed to let the Wilfs’ lawyers try again in a different kind of appeal that should be heard in late January, the Star-Ledger reported.

In earlier court filings the Wilfs claimed that exposing their wealth to public view would pose a risk to the safety of their children and put them at a competitive disadvantage in their business dealings.

Wilson denied a request to keep the wealth figures secret until after the family has exhausted all its appeals over the outcome of a lawsuit over the management of a 700-unit apartment complex in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City. The case dates to 1992. The Wilfs’ appeals are expected to take up to three more years to work their way through the courts.

But the Wilfs’ wealth could become public early in 2014 if the appeals court declines to delay the release of that information.

Wilson also held off on ordering the sale of the apartment complex in dispute while the Wilfs file a January appeal of her decision to dissolve the partnership that runs it. Wilson has ruled that the Wilfs, especially Zygi Wilf, deceived and defrauded partners Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann and that they can no longer work together. Halpern and Reichmann each hold a quarter share in the complex that court documents say has a total worth of $80 million to $100 million.

Halpern and Reichmann stand to profit handily from the sale of the complex. The Wilfs, who own the other half interest, strongly oppose the sale. If they lose the January appeal, the sale process will begin.

Wilson on Thursday made good on her stated intention to allow the Wilfs to avoid paying any damages, fees, expenses and interest until after the appeals process. But the Wilfs will have to post a bond of more than $100 million for the duration of the appeal.

The size of the judgment initially raised concerns among some Minnesota officials about whether it could affect the Wilfs’ ability to meet their financial commitments in the public-private partnership that is building a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. But the Wilfs convinced the Minnesota stadium authority that their fortune was big enough to finance their share of the Vikings facility while paying their lawsuit penalties.

The precise amount of the bond should be included in Wilson’s order in the case, expected Friday.


Staff writer Jim Spencer contributed to this report.


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