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  Article published Apr 27, 2008

  Family's drama is the stuff soaps are made of


                                                                                   SARASOTA Wolf Arbin Weinhold believes his
                                                                                   father killed his mother. His brother believes it, too.

                                                                                   Weinhold, a maybe-wealthy 54-year-old Sarasotan,
                                                                                   says that in 1991 his late father fed crushed
                                                                                   sleeping pills to his cancer-stricken mother, then
                                                                                   put a plastic bag over her head until she stopped
                                                                                   breathing. His brother, Karl Wilms "Kip" Weinhold,
                                                                                   says his father told him the story soon after his
                                                                                   mother's death. But Kip still is not sure whether it
                                                                                   was a mercy killing or murder.
  According to auctioneer Daniel DeCaro, whose firm ran the Nov. 16 auction,
  Wolf Weinhold's brother has good reason to be concerned. "When you pass a        "I just don't know," he said.
  bad check to buy real estate in Florida, you go to jail," DeCaro said. HERALD-
  TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2007 / ROD MILLINGTON
                                                       Five months ago, Wolf Weinhold made a very big
  splash, offering $14.1 million for the Sugar Bay estate on Casey Key -- the flagship property in
  Sarasota's biggest and glitziest real estate auction ever. Weinhold's deposit checks bounced, and half
  the property has since sold to another buyer.

  Weinhold, the auctioneers, the auction's sponsor and the property's owner are now entangled in
  messy arbitration over the main parcel, and the Sarasota real estate community is bickering over how
  it all happened and who is to blame.

  In the meantime, the spat has parted the curtain on the almost Shakespearean saga of a wealthy
  Sarasota family whose members have been fighting for 17 years, accusing each other of slander,
  fraud, theft and murder.

  The story is told in reams of court documents filed in a half-dozen disparate cases since the late
  1980s.

  "I have over 60 boxes of legal stuff," Weinhold said. "It's an enormous amount of litigation for one
  person, and it has not ended."

  Wunderkind

  Sarasota High School classmates describe Weinhold as "brilliant." He was born in Sarasota in 1953,
  the first of two sons of Wolf Karl and Marjorie Weinhold, a couple who married in 1951 and built Intra
  State Terrazzo & Cement Co. into one of the largest terrazzo floor companies in the country. Wolf
  Weinhold had nearly perfect SAT scores, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  with both a bachelor's and a master's degree in just four years, and got a job at Harvard Business
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  School teaching and publishing scholarly papers while doing consulting.

  But a 1986 deal for a brownstone in a gentrifying Boston neighborhood pushed the blond-haired, blue-
  eyed prodigy into a financial chaos that he has never really escaped. Weinhold got a $2.4 million loan
  to develop the brownstone into luxury apartments, but within a few short months found himself locked
  in a dispute with contractors. Ten months later, his borrowed money ran out and the bank foreclosed.

  After a four-year fight with the bank and federal regulators -- costing him half a million dollars in legal
  fees -- Weinhold was left with a $3.9 million judgment against him and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

  By then, it was 1991 -- the year his mother died.

  Complicated life

  If Weinhold's post-college years had been complicated, the years after his mother's death unfolded like
  a bad soap opera. Though her will left everything to her husband, Weinhold and his brother argued
  that Marjorie Weinhold had always meant to leave her assets to them in trust.

  The conflict was compounded by his father's love life. Not long after Marjorie died, their father began
  dating Lorilee Ibold Mowe, saying he wanted to marry her right away. Wolf and his brother protested.

  "We said for propriety's sake, he should wait," Kip Weinhold said. "But he wouldn't listen. He said: 'I'm
  marrying this woman and I don't care what you think.'"

  Wolf Karl Weinhold, the father, enlisted his attorney, Howard Payne. "Your father has advised me that
  he is getting the very distinct impression that you are spreading stories to the effect that your father
  has cheated you out of some portion of your mother's estate," Payne wrote the brothers in December
  1992. "As you both know very well, these are very serious charges."

  By the time he received the letter, Wolf Weinhold was sick. A bicycle accident on a bridge to Anna
  Maria Island -- a pallet fell off a truck and hit him -- left him with a smashed cheekbone, a concussion,
  three broken ribs and two broken vertebrae in his back and neck. He began suffering from severe
  headaches. A deposition he filed in a 1996 lawsuit against his brother shows that Weinhold also had a
  diagnosis of "what appears to be a mixed bipolar disorder."

  "I was seriously cycling during a several-year period," Weinhold said. "I'd be awake for 72 hours. Then
  two weeks later I'd be absolutely toasted. I fit the criteria for bipolar and they treated me for that for the
  next six or seven years."

  When the drugs prescribed by one set of doctors did not work, Weinhold sought a second opinion from
  the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center.

  His new doctors reasoned that his head trauma had affected his pituitary gland and that he should be
  treated with hormones for an endocrine disorder.

  "The treatment is working phenomenally well," he now says.

  Who owns Wolf's Lair?

  In the ensuing years, Weinhold became embroiled in almost constant litigation with his family.

  Most of it centered around ownership of Wolf's Lair, a 1,400-acre family retreat in Henderson County,
  N.C., that could be worth as much as $21 million today based on land prices in that part of the country.
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  In 1996, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa sold part of the estate in an attempt to settle Weinhold's
  Boston bankruptcy case. But Weinhold's father objected and convinced the court to reopen the case
  four years later, alleging that his son had arranged for the fraudulent sale of part of Wolf's Lair to a
  close friend, Douglas Smith -- an accusation still being litigated.

  His father also tried to convince Wolf Weinhold's disability carrier -- Equitable Life -- that Weinhold had
  filed a fraudulent insurance claim, prompting the carrier to open an investigation and then to cut off
  payments.

  "You've got to look at it from the disability carrier's perspective," Weinhold said. "Some gentleman calls
  them up and says he's the father of Wolf Arbin Weinhold and tells them his son is committing
  insurance fraud. They had to open up an investigation."

  The dispute went to trial in U.S. District Court in Tampa, and Wolf Weinhold won a jury verdict in 1999,
  forcing the carrier to reinstate his payments.

  Last year it looked as if Weinhold, who handles much of his legal work himself, would get a break in
  his bankruptcy case as well. He worked out a deal with the bankruptcy trustee in which the sale of
  Wolf's Lair to his old friend Smith would be rescinded and the property transferred back to Weinhold. In
  return, Weinhold would pay $550,000 in attorney fees and provide $2.5 million to the court to be doled
  out to creditors.

  But Smith has refused to give up his rights to Wolf's Lair and ownership remains in limbo.

  Suicide in the park

  Weinhold's father was found dead on Jan. 9, 2003, from a gunshot wound to the head in Phillippi
  Shores Park. The death was deemed a suicide. A .357-caliber Magnum was found lying at his feet, the
  police report said.

  In his will, Wolf Karl Weinhold bequeathed his sons just $1,000 each and admonished them, saying
  they had returned his kindness and generosity by being "unnecessarily antagonistic" after their
  mother's death.

  "After Marge's death, the Settlor remarried and has made a warm and loving home with his new wife,"
  Wolf Karl Weinhold's will stated. "It appears to the Settlor, from the actions of his sons, that they never
  have accepted the Settlor's remarriage, or the financial arrangements for the Settlor's new wife."

  Angered once again by his father's actions, Wolf Weinhold filed a lawsuit in Sarasota Circuit Court
  against his stepmother as representative of his father's estate in 2003.

  It was in this lawsuit that Weinhold laid out the allegation about his father killing his mother 12 years
  earlier. Kip Weinhold backed up the accusation in a deposition connected to Weinhold's bankruptcy
  case. But because no autopsy was performed on his mother and her body was cremated the same
  day she died, Weinhold and his brother have no proof.

  "There's no way for the court to dig up the body and retest it," Weinhold said.

  Wolf Weinhold argued in his lawsuit that because of the alleged murder, his father should not be
  entitled to his mother's money.

  "By virtue of having ground up and or administered sleeping pills and or placing a bag over Marjorie
  Arbin Weinhold's head, Wolf Karl Weinhold unlawfully and intentionally killed or participated in
  procuring the death of Marjorie Arbin Weinhold, and ergo, he was not a proper beneficiary of her
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  estate," the suit argued.

  The flagship property

  For years, Wolf Weinhold toured luxury homes from Longboat to Casey Key, according to five high-
  end real estate agents contacted by the Herald-Tribune. He told three of them that he was awaiting a
  legal settlement.

  But the estate that caught his eye was the 2.5-acre tract of land on Casey Key known as the Sugar
  Bay Estate. It stretches from the Intercoastal Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico, and contains two multi-
  million-dollar mansions on adjacent parcels.

  One agent said he showed Weinhold the property, which belonged to millionaire Gerd Petrik, three
  times in the last few years.

  Through his agent, Reid Murphy, Weinhold ultimately informed Sky Sotheby's that he intended to bid
  $9 million for the larger of the two Sugar Bay properties, and his solo bid carried the day at auction.

  Weinhold was also the mystery buyer -- who bid by phone -- agreeing to pay a total price of $14.1
  million for the two parcels. The two deposit checks that Weinhold had written bounced shortly
  afterwards.

  "I made it clear to Sky on multiple occasions that I did not have the liquid assets in the United States to
  complete the deal," Weinhold said. "But they went ahead and cashed the checks anyway."

  According to an affidavit filed by Murphy in the arbitration, Weinhold tried to withdraw the bid altogether
  the morning of the auction, citing concerns over a previously undisclosed easement that would
  effectively prevent the larger Sugar Bay parcel from being developed and would mean a multi-million-
  dollar drop in value. Murphy claims he was told that "the bid was irrevocable and could not be
  withdrawn," and that if Weinhold pulled out he faced a potential lawsuit.

  Chad Roffers, Sky Sotheby's president, vigorously disputes that any bidders in November -- Weinhold
  or otherwise -- attempted to withdraw their bids that morning.

  In the days following the auction, it became clear that something was wrong with the Sugar Bay sale.

  Casey Key real estate agents said they had been contacted by Joel Schemmel, the Sky agent who
  represented Petrik, and were told that Sky was looking for a backup buyer because the winning bidder
  had been unable to come up with the money to close the record deal.

  It was not until the end of January, more than two months after the auction, that Roffers first
  acknowledged there was a problem.

  But at a meeting in early February, he insisted the mystery bidder "was very qualified," that a $1.7
  million deposit check was being held in escrow and that negotiations between Petrik and the mystery
  buyer were ongoing.

  "The seller and buyer said they wanted to sell to each other," Roffers said in February. "We're working
  to find a solution."

  Weinhold and Sky are now trying to sort out their differences in closed-door arbitration, but it is already
  clear that Weinhold will not receive title to either of Sugar Bay's parcels. Sky sold one of them in
  February to another participant at the November event.
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  The other was included in Sky's April auction, receiving a high bid of $5.92 million, but did not sell.

  Legitimate bid?

  Wolf Weinhold says his bid for Sugar Bay was legitimate.

  "I would not blow my brains out by doing something foolish like that," he said.

  He intended to buy the property as a business venture, he said, explaining that he had extensive
  contacts from his Harvard and MIT days with those running certain sovereign wealth funds on behalf of
  governments around the world. He said it is not uncommon for a wealthy individual to want to buy
  property through an intermediary to stay below the radar.

  "Over the years I've looked for property for myself, but also for friends and clients," Weinhold said. "I've
  put deals together like this before."

  Kip Weinhold said that it is possible his brother intended to buy the Petrik estate on behalf of someone
  he had met during his Boston years. But Kip Weinhold said he thought it more likely that his brother
  had acted on impulse.

  "When my brother called and told me about it, I got sick to my stomach," said Kip Weinhold, who
  received a call from his brother in February. "If he had told me beforehand that he was going to bid on
  some property, I would have locked him in a little room."

  Wolf Weinhold now says that the best possible outcome would be for him to get out of the Sugar Bay
  deal.

  "If the arbitration rules against me, the judgment will be paid and the property will be bought,"
  Weinhold said. "If it goes the other way, I'll get all my costs and expenses back."

  But Kip Weinhold worries that his brother could face criminal charges for writing a bad check.

  He might have good reason.

  "When you pass a bad check to buy real estate in Florida, you go to jail. It's that simple," said Daniel
  DeCaro, whose auction firm ran Sky's Nov. 16 event. "We don't run into these problems often. This is
  really unique."
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