Exclusive: Mauricio Umansky settles, speaks on Sweetwater Mesa

Agency CEO claims absolution after third and final lawsuit over Malibu mansion deal

Umansky Speaks On Sweetwater Mesa Lawsuit
From left: Compass' Aitan Segal, The Agency's Mauricio Umansky, and Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue along with 3620 Sweetwater Mesa in Malibu (Getty, Compass, The Agency, Umansky/Danny Liao DTL)

They say all good things come in pairs, and for a while, that was the case at a Malibu property where a pair of sales netted a pair of Mauricios tens of millions of dollars.

The Agency founder and CEO Mauricio Umansky had scored the listing of 3620 Sweetwater Mesa in 2016 when Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the vice president of Equatorial Guinea, was forced to sell after the U.S. government alleged he had bought it with stolen funds.

Umansky sold it to Mauricio Oberfeld for $32 million, then invested in the property himself. He and Oberfeld flipped it the next year for a $37 million profit.

But the sweetness soon turned sour for Umansky. 

Obiang in 2018 filed a lawsuit against Umansky, claiming he steered the deal to Oberfeld at a discount and thereby maximizing their profits on the resale. Western World Insurance, Umansky’s insurance company, filed its own suit that same year. Western World’s case was dismissed after Umansky filed a counterclaim. Umansky settled with Obiang.

 A spurned bidder, Sam Hakim, and his agent Aitan Segal, filed a third complaint against Umansky in 2019, accusing him of fraud and breach of contract. They alleged Umansky concealed a higher offer from Hakim to steer the deal to Oberfeld so the pair could flip the home. 

The last lawsuit was settled last week, and Umansky spoke exclusively to The Real Deal to tell his side of the story. At least regarding this last case — his representatives say he can’t comment on the others. 

“It’s definitely a huge relief for me and it’s certainly a weight off my shoulders,” he said about the lawsuit coming to an end. “I’ve had to be under a gag order, and not be able to defend myself and talk about all of the articles and everything that’s been written about for years and years and years.”

Umansky maintains he did nothing wrong, and pointed to the fact that he doesn’t have to pay any money to Hakim or Segal as evidence. 

“Settling for $0 … I believe that speaks a lot in terms of the claims,” he said.

However, Umansky did have to pay Obiang as part of their settlement, court records show, though the exact details are confidential. A representative for Umansky said Obiang’s lawsuit was “a different case under different circumstances.”

Although he doesn’t have to pay Hakim or Segal, Umansky does have to make a $75,000 charitable donation to a pro-Israel organization of his choice, something the executive claims he would have done anyway.

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Umansky also took issue with news stories from earlier this year that seized upon a motion to compel him to provide text messages. Umansky said he hadn’t withheld any, pointing to transcripts from October to support that claim.

“The bigger issue for me professionally was not the lawsuit that was filed, it was the amount of media and attention around it,” he said. The headlines, he added, made for “clickbait,” which “really bothered me and hurt me because, in theory, you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

Representatives for the plaintiffs cast the settlement differently: The expense, time and energy needed to pursue the lawsuit was too much for their clients. 

“It was not practical for Mr. Segal to proceed with this very costly litigation,” said Barry Cohen, Segal’s attorney. “He had merely sought to receive the commissions he worked for and earned.  He is pleased with Mr. Umansky’s donation to an Israel-based organization.”

Hakim’s attorney, Alan D. Hearty, provided a similar statement. 

“In light of current global events, including the shocking attack on the state of Israel on October 7, Mr. Hakim decided his time and energy would be better served on matters other than this litigation,” said Hearty. “Regarding the issue of wrongdoing by Mr. Umansky, the court records speak for themselves.”

In the lawsuit, Hakim alleged that he made a verbal offer of “at least $40 million” for the property, according to the complaint, making it clear that he would pay any amount necessary. Umansky allegedly advised him not to put the offer in writing, before coming back to Hakim with a counteroffer of $33.5 million. Umansky said the seller wasn’t motivated by price because proceeds over $10.3 million would go to a charity benefiting the people of Equatorial Guinea due to the circumstances of the sale. 

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Despite the back and forth, Oberfeld, not Hakim, was selected as the buyer. Hakim claims to have offered to pay Oberfeld $8 million for the rights to the property, bringing the total value of his offer to $41.5 million. 

Umansky said Hakim never made a higher offer on the property and said Oberfeld was not the first buyer picked.

“He was alleging and arguing that he made a verbal higher offer, but I allege that was never made,” said Umansky. “My personal opinion is a verbal offer in real estate doesn’t exist. You have to put it on paper and you have to put it in writing.”

Umansky also said he and Oberfeld put a lot of work into the gut renovation at the property, which contributed to the higher price when they sold it. 

“I’ve had enough of negative energy … I’m looking forward to positivity and positive energy, and that’s how I like to live my life,” said Umansky. “I don’t need any negativity in my life, and any negative shit. So I’m looking forward to getting it behind me and concentrating only on positive things.”

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