Chip Gaines Accused of Fraud, Near-Assault by Former Business Partners
Chip Gaines can fix up nearly any dilapidated house, turning it into the home of his clients’ dreams.
But will he be able to renovate a new major issue in his personal life in the same impressive fashion?
Sources confirm that the HGTV star is being sued by his former Magnolia Real Estate partners for more than $ 1 million.
According to legal documents filed this week by John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark Waco, Texas, the ex-associates of Gaines allege that he pushed them to sell their shares in the company just two days before HGTV picked up Fixer Upper as a series.
The show makes frequent mention of Magnolia Real Estate on each episode.
As a result, the company has seen an enormous uptick in revenue and value since Lewis and Clark sold their shares for a paltry $ 2,500 each.
They claim that Gaines pressured them to do so by threatening to start his own competing real estate business if they refused.
The lawsuit also mentions a threatening text message that Gaines supposedly sent to Lewis in which he threatened to physically assault Clark. Yikes.
Because Gaines never mentioned to his then-partners that Fixer Upper was in the works, they are essentially accusing of fraud; of insider trading, in a sense.
Lewis and Clark founded Magnolia Real Estate with Gaines in 2007.
At first, the business mostly operated out of Waco with a single real estate agent, according to the lawsuit.
Now, though, following four seasons of Fixer Upper?
The Magnolia firm employs “over 93 real estate agents” and operates in nearly every major city in Texas, the suit alleges.
Along with Gaines, the papers cite Magnolia Realty, Scripps Networks Interactive (the company that owns HGTV) and High Noon Productions, which produces Fixer Upper.
In a statement to People Magazine, representatives for HGTV simply say the following:
“We respect the privacy of our show hosts and will not comment on matters related to their personal lives or businesses.”
Gaines’ attorney, Jordan Mayfield, meanwhile, is standing by his client.
He says this lawsuit has no merit.
“We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines,” Mayfield also tells People.
As for Chip?
Soon after news of the suit went public, he Tweeted a bible verse, which we have to assume is symbolic of his overall take on the scandal.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” reads the message, which comes from John 1:5.
Back in December, Chip and Joanna were also at the center of a controversy involving gay marriage.
Kind of. Sort of.
The controversy actually focused on the pastor at their church, who has gone on record with some anti-homosexual viewpoints, such as claiming that gay people can be turned straight via conversion therapy.
This is a point of contention for obvious reasons, but neither Chip nor Joanna have ever said anything like this themselves.
In response to being grouped in with the pastor and the negative headlines that came along with it, Chip Tweeted some general statements about love and respect.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. DO EVERYTHING IN LOVE,” he wrote at the time, adding:
“U know.. even as all hell ‘appears’ to be breaking loose. All I have to do is look at my 4 precious babies sleeping, or kiss Jo good morning and at least at that moment, at my house, all is right with the world.”
That’s a pretty nice take on life, wouldn’t you say?
For a network that airs shows about home renovation and design, HGTV sure has found itself at the center of quite a few scandals over the years.
Especially the recent years.
Click around the photo gallery above to see what we mean.