Business

Tacoma real estate developers will have their estates liquidated

A judge has approved a bankruptcy trustee’s plan to essentially liquidate the estates of two Tacoma real estate developers.

After slogging through bankruptcy court for four years, creditors of Prium founders Tom Price and Hyun Um won’t be getting much.

According to recent court documents, the men together now owe creditors about $202 million. The liquidation plan, which includes the proceeds of selling two large diamond rings, is estimated to bring in about $2.3 million. Administrative expenses will be subtracted from that figure first, which could eat up more than half of that total, leaving the creditors just a fraction of what they’re owed.

“This is a 2010 case. It’s been a long time coming for a lot of creditors,” federal bankruptcy Judge Paul Snyder said Wednesday.

Price and Um founded Prium in Tacoma in the early 2000s. After the real estate collapse began in 2007, their highly leveraged development business became unsustainable.

Their complicated business structure, made up of a web of at least 60 limited liability companies, was made public in 2010 when they filed for personal bankruptcy with $350 million in debts related to their real estate business. The four years since have been marked by grinding legal arguments and accusations of theft and fraud.

Last year, Snyder appointed Eric Orse as trustee to oversee Price and Um’s estates. He ruled they were frauds who couldn't be trusted to manage their affairs in the best interests of creditors. Just a few months earlier, a King County Superior Court judge ruled that Price and Um deliberately destroyed evidence in a lawsuit the men filed against a former business partner.

Prium itself filed for bankruptcy reorganization this year.

Part of Orse’s duties included selling the men’s homes. In late September, a sale of Price’s home in Gig Harbor’s Canterwood neighborhood fell through. It’s still on the market, listed for about $1 million. A sale of Um’s home on Wollochet Bay, listed for $1.8 million, is scheduled to close next week.

Price and Um will be allowed to keep certain items of personal property, including clothes and some furnishings. The men’s contracts on several cars also are exempt — they must make payments on them as usual.

Some personal items they won’t be allowed to keep: two large diamond rings. Orse sold an 8-carat diamond ring from Price’s estate in mid-November for $120,000. A 10-carat diamond ring from Um’s estate has yet to be sold.

Snyder asked the trustee to file reports with the court every six months as the liquidation proceeds.

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