A wealthy businesswoman who owns $200 million in real estate accumulates legal proceedings, notably in the context of a purchase offer for one of the most expensive houses in Quebec.
Canadian businesswoman Louise Blouin, who in the mid-2000s was among the richest women in the country, has been targeted by at least six recent legal actions in Quebec.
For five years, she has been sued by a bank, a real estate brokerage firm, a law firm, a painting company, a Montreal architect as well as buyers and sellers of luxury residences.
A spectacular house in the Hamptons near New York linked to Louise Blouin is also at the heart of a dispute with creditors (see other text below).
The lawsuits suggest a princely lifestyle for the woman who made her fortune in particular with her shares in Trader Classified Media (the owner of Auto Hebdo), which she liquidated in 2005.
For more than 15 years, she has devoted a good part of her time to art and the media, with, among others, the company BlouinArtinfo Corp. She also rubbed shoulders with some well-known personalities of the jet set.
The real estate transaction of the year
In 2015, she had her eye on a luxurious Montreal home according to court documents.
With a real estate broker, she drove around Westmount in a convertible Mini Cooper, open top, and tried to achieve what would then have been the highest residential transaction of the year in Quebec.
She wanted to get her hands on a Victorian mansion with 10 bedrooms and 10 full bathrooms and enjoying a breathtaking view of the metropolis.
The house was then not for sale, but Ms. Blouin convinced the owner to sell it to her for $15.5 million after offers and counter-offers.
Ms. Blouin, however, never went to the notary to finalize the transaction. The saleswoman, who had meanwhile moved, sued her.
In defense, Ms. Blouin argued that she no longer had an obligation to buy because her broker had leaked information to the Journal for the sale of another property in Mont-Tremblant. A reason deemed eccentric by judge Sylvain Lussier, of the Superior Court (see other text).
"It is his arguments, his desires, his whims, his taste for grandeur, which pass before any consideration for his commitments", criticizes the judge.
He ordered the businesswoman to pay nearly $2 million, among other things to make up the difference between the price offered and the one that the seller had to finally accept from another buyer.
In addition to having to compensate the Westmount saleswoman, Louise Blouin was forced in February to sell a $5.1 million Mont-Tremblant house to a couple from whom she had accepted an offer to purchase (see other text below) .
HSBC Bank also sued her and obtained a judgment in her favor for unpaid debts, including a balance of more than $50,000 on a credit card. Statements show in particular spending of more than $18,000 in five days in businesses in Florence and Paris and a hotel in Switzerland.
WHO IS LOUISE BLOUIN?
► Law firm Gowling LWG also filed a lawsuit last year for unpaid fees of $109,000. She disputed the claim, saying she was not satisfied with the legal services rendered.
One of the most prestigious houses on the American east coast, belonging to a company of Louise Blouin, found itself in the last days at the heart of a standoff with its creditors for debts of 43 million US $.
On April 30, Louise Blouin signed bankruptcy proceedings documents for the company Brickchurch of which she is the administrator.
Brickchurch owns one of two houses in a luxurious estate called The Dune in an area that attracts wealthy New Yorkers.
A few days earlier, a lawyer had asked for a delay to avoid the forced sale of the house to do checks and to try to obtain refinancing.
The company headed by Louise Blouin was the subject of a financial repossession procedure initiated by creditors, including a fund from the Cayman Islands, according to documents consulted by our Bureau of Investigation.
The La Dune estate was on sale in 2020 for US$140 million, according to Outeast. It is currently on sale at Sotheby's for an undisclosed price.
The La Dune complex home owned by Brickchurch is valued at US$63 million in court documents. The other house belongs to another firm linked to Louise Blouin, Aberdeen Enterprises, which is also in default.
- With the collaboration of Philippe Langlois
A luxurious Mont-Tremblant home sold by Louise Blouin was left in poor condition when new owners arrived, a lawsuit claims.
"The defendant left with the door of the master bedroom, which demonstrates his bad faith, as well as several porcelains, lamps and other items of great value, which demonstrates the seriousness of the gesture", maintains a couple of buyers in an appeal filed last February at the Saint-Jérôme courthouse.
They are claiming $320,000, in particular for missing or damaged property.
"The missing goods which belong to the plaintiffs and which have moreover been paid for at a high price (including in particular doors, cupboards and built-in elements!) were scattered and taken by members of the family of the defendant and the remainder was sent to Europe,” the suit reads.
Damage would also have been observed after taking possession.
"There was a major water damage in the kitchen, which was not there at the time of the promise of sale," the buyers allege, detailing the damage to the counters and floors.
The claim is disputed by Ms. Blouin's lawyers, who call it exaggerated and unfounded.
Treated like crooks
However, this is not the first dispute between Blouin and the buyers. Earlier this year, the couple won their case to force her to sell her Tremblant home for $5.1 million. She had accepted an offer to buy, but then changed her mind.
"It treats plaintiffs like crooks when they are only exercising their rights," said Superior Court Judge Claude Auclair. The judge also said that Ms. Blouin intimidated brokers involved by threatening to have them lose their license because she is a powerful person.
Businesswoman Louise Blouin is said to have aborted a transaction to acquire one of the most beautiful houses in Westmount because she feared for her tax status, she who has lived in Switzerland for several years.
In 2016, she tried to buy the luxurious residence for $ 15.5 million before changing her mind. The saleswoman sued her and won nearly $2 million in damages.
During the legal proceedings, the veil was lifted on a confidential note sent by Blouin to the notary in charge of the transaction, the evening of the date scheduled to finalize the sale.
“Due to an indiscretion on the part of my broker, we have decided not to proceed with the acquisition [of the Westmount house], as it would be too compromising for my tax status. This is strictly confidential,” she wrote to the notary.
Ms. Blouin, though a Canadian citizen, is currently a resident of Switzerland, she said during discovery last year.
According to what emerges from a judgment, the businesswoman would have taken umbrage at a column in Le Journal in 2016 which would have drawn attention to her.
The article reported on his purchase of another home in Mont-Tremblant for $5.8 million. She then suspected her broker of having leaked information when this information is available in public records.
According to her, this column would have led to another article in the Toronto Star on her presence in the Panama Papers.
"These articles that have been circulating all over the world have lifted the veil on me in Canada and therefore this purchase would be compromising," she explains to the notary.
Another "serious reason" for not completing the transaction is mentioned in the note, but has not been disclosed.
A few months earlier, his name had appeared in the Toronto Star, which reported his presence in the Panama Papers.
This media leak exposed the identity of hundreds of individuals and companies that used the services of a Panamanian law firm to make investments in tax havens.