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1-800-Flowers founder and Bravo Real Housewives parent accuses Katy Perry of financial elder abuse over real-estate sale

Watch out, Katy Perry is coming for your house like a dark horse—at least if you’re Carl Westcott, the founder of 1-800-Flowers. In 2020, the 84-year-old Westcott sold his $15 million Montecito estate to the millennial pop star, famous for hits like “I Kissed a Girl” and “California Gurls.” Perry was set to become neighbors with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt in the exclusive enclave outside Santa Barbara, but Westcott claims he was in an unusual state of mind when he agreed to sell the house he had just acquired himself a few months earlier.

“The combination of his age, frailty from his back condition and recent surgery, and the opiates he was taking several times a day rendered Mr. Westcott of unsound mind,” reads a lawsuit that claimed Perry took advantage of Westcott being under the influence of painkillers at the time. Perry’s camp insists that Westcott’s mind was, in fact, sound, and is trying to push through with the deal. 

The dispute over the Montecito estate has all led to a proposed law in Katy Perry’s name, as Westcott’s family has pushed for the development of the Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years Act in an attempt to curtail similar conflicts with seniors. While 1-800 Flowers has a market capitalization of about $450 million today, Westcott sold it back in the 1980s and his net worth is now estimated at between $15 million to $20 million, according to CoreStreet. He is somewhat of a quiet millionaire, but his son Court and Court’s wife Cameron have become recognizable for appearances on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Dallas. To make things even stranger, this is not even Perry’s first housing litigation involving a senior citizen.

Nicknamed the Katy PERRY Act, Westcott’s family wants the pending legislation to address “the risks of elder financial abuse, especially as it relates to property and real estate sales and transfers,” according to the website for the proposed legislation. As part of the act, a 72-hour cool-down period would be enacted to allow people over the age of 75 to go back on an agreement without consequences.

Westcott’s suit names Bernie Gudvi, Perry’s business manager, as the defendant, although Perry is pressing a claim for an extra $1.4 million from Westcott, contending that it’s lost income she would have received from renting out the house. The case is kicking off in California this week

Lawyers from both parties did not respond to requests for comment.

Gudvi sought to dismiss the case in May 2022, arguing in a legal filing that Westcott “was competent when he hired an experienced real estate broker, vetted the brokerage commission rate, arranged showings of the property, entertained multiple offers, sought alternative houses, and ultimately negotiated a highly lucrative sale.” 

Gudvi’s lawyers also claim that Westcott had expressed interest in selling the estate and had arranged a tour for a different potential buyer two days before he had his spine surgery (for which he needed the painkillers). Filings show that it only took Westcott two months to try to unload the property that he had purchased in the wake of the pandemic when mortgage rates were in the 3% range. 

Westcott purchased the eight-bedroom, 11-bathroom property in late May 2020 for $11.25 million, according to Santa Barbara County property records. In July 2020, Westcott signed a contract with Gudvi to sell the sprawling nine-acre property to the pop star and her partner, Orlando Bloom. Perry’s representation is arguing that Westcott, in fact, was fully with it when he agreed to the deal—and was making a cool $3.75 million profit, to boot.

Perry’s past real-estate run-ins with seniors

This isn’t Perry’s first rodeo when it comes to real-estate conflicts with seniors. Not even a decade ago, she was engaged in a legal battle with a group of nuns who wished to sell their convent to a different buyer. In 2015, she purchased the former Catholic convent in Los Angeles for $15 million. 

However, the uproar over the property started when Sister Catherine Rose Holzman and the sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary sold the Los Feliz property to restaurateur Dana Hollister—who apparently has a thing for owning and selling nunneries in the Los Angeles area. She listed another nunnery in the area for $40 million in spring 2021.

The archdiocese argued that Holzman and others did not have the right to sell the nunnery, however. Plus, the sale usurped an arcane rule that the Vatican must approve church property sales in excess of $7.5 million. The property included 30,000 square feet of living space, a pool, a tower, and a prayer house. The archdiocese instead approved a sale to Perry, even though Hollister was already living there, which led to a legal battle.

Perry won out in this case in 2016, though. A judge ruled that the sale to Hollister was invalid, and she had to pay the archdiocese $3.47 million in attorney fees and Perry’s company $1.57 million in fees. The case culminated with Holzman, 89, dropping dead in the courthouse during her fight to stop Perry. One of the surviving nuns claimed that the fatality was due to Perry’s actions, adding that she “has blood on her hands.” Sister Rita Callanan also pleaded with Perry and the Vatican to “please stop” pursuing the purchase.

Perry is seemingly undeterred and ready for round two. “He wanted to die in the house,” Chart Westcott, son of the claimant, told Bloomberg of said disputed property. The family points to rampant elder fraud as part of this case, noting that the FBI has estimated a 400% recent increase in online scams that target seniors. 

There are currently no laws to protect senior citizens against real estate transactions that unfairly target older individuals whose mental capacities may be compromised at the time of sale,” they add on the site, claiming that the PERRY act is meant to curtail these abuses.

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