Late Zappos founder Tony Hsieh said he believed he was 'crystallizing' and part of 'a simulation' month before death, court documents reveal

Late Zappos founder Tony Hsieh said he believed he was 'crystallizing' and part of 'a simulation' month before death, court documents reveal
Hsieh speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative America at the Sheridan Downtown Denver, in 2014Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • Court documents filed this week provide more insight into the final weeks of the life of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh.
  • Hsieh died in a house fire in November 2020 following months of erratic behavior and a deteriorating mental state.

New court documents filed this week reveal more harrowing details about the tragic final weeks of late Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, who died in a house fire in November 2020.

The latest filings emerged from an ongoing legal battle between Hsieh's family and business associates over the tech exec's multimillion dollar estate. The documents shed light on Hsieh's erratic behavior and deteriorating mental state, exacerbated by worsening abuse of ketamine and nitrous oxide, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KTNV reported.

According to the documents, the month before his death, Hsieh, who was 46 at the time, was taken to the hospital after he said he believed he was "crystallizing." He remarked that he was "in a simulation" and didn't know "what's real and what's not," per KTNV.

The documents, which also noted that Hsieh had begun chewing on cigarettes as his health declined, state that Hsieh first began using ketamine in November 2019 before openly experimenting with nitrous oxide, KTNV reported.

Additional details about Hsieh's drug abuse emerged earlier this year, after the publication of a biography on the former Zappos CEO. The book reported that singer-songwriter Jewel tried to save Hsieh in August 2020, after visiting his home, which she allegedly found covered in dog feces and wax from burning candles.


According to the biography, after seeing Hsieh emaciated in the backyard surrounded by canisters of nitrous oxide, Jewel spoke to his staff and urged them help the troubled tech exec.

"If he kills himself and everyone else in there from a huge fire, you can't say you weren't warned," Jewel told Hsieh's security officer, according to the biography.

Hsieh did not leave a will, and his estate has been a point of contention since his death. Richard and Andrew Hsieh — Tony's father and brother, respectively — claim friends and business associates took advantage of the tech exec, while business manager and friend Tony Lee assert Andrew used his brother for money, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Lawyers for Andrew Hsieh, who was named co-administrator of Tony's estate in the summer of 2020, wrote in the filing that he had attempted to stop his brother's drug usage, and would plan "quiet trips" for Tony to "be away from the people who were exploiting him and enabling his continued decline," the Review-Journal reported.

Per KTNV, Andrew Hsieh was offered a $1 million salary to care for his brother. According to the filings, Andrew Hsieh also requested that "vitamins and protein supplements" be added to his brother's food, as he was becoming increasingly emaciated, KTNV reported.