RadarOnline.com can reveal that John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark sued Chip, 42, and his wife Joanna, 39, for defrauding them out of millions with regards to their joint real estate company.
The men claimed in explosive court documents filed in McLennan County, Texas that the reality stars kept their HGTV deal a secret and forced the men to sell their shares in Magnolia Realty for just $2,500 DAYS before the show pick-up was announced.
Lewis and Clark argued that “they would have never agreed to sell” their shares in Magnolia Realty for just $2,500 each if they had known about Fixer Upper — and are now seeking more than $1 million for their troubles.
Lewis reported that he first met Chip in 1999, and the two became fast friends. They lived “mere houses away” from each other, and their families became close as well, he claimed. Then, he introduced Chip to Clark in 2006, and Magnolia Realty was formed the following year.
The plaintiffs reported that the three men grew Magnolia Realty from just one real estate agent to a 93-person operation in six years. But, just before Fixer Upper premiered in May 2013, Chip filed paperwork to transfer the ownership of the company to himself. He pressured his partners into signing the paperwork in just two days so the deal would clear in time.
Chip allegedly threatened Lewis and Clark, saying “he would start a competing real estate brokerage firm and would take Magnolia Realty’s sole real estate agent, Doug Eastland, with him.”
He even texted Lewis: “You better tell Rick to be careful. I don’t come from the nerdy prep school he’s from. And when people talk to me that way they get their a**es kicked. And if he’s not ready to do that he better shut his mouth. I’, not the toughest guy there is, but I can assure you that would not end will for Rick.”
“Chip and Joanna Gaines had plans to build the ‘Magnolia’ name into an empire using Fixer Upper as a catalyst — a similar strategy that has been used by other individuals to capitalize on their fame. For example…the Kardashians,” the men claimed in the papers.
“The only thing I have is Magnolia when the dust clears,” Chip allegedly wrote in an email.
Lewis last heard form Chip on May 8, 2013 through an email inviting him to a Fixer Upper premiere party.
And according to the bitter former friend, the couple even wanted to base their reality show on the infamous Kardashian-Jenner clan’s series.
“You may have heard by now, but JoJo and I have spent (nearly) the last year of our lives working on a pilot for HGTV,” he wrote in the email describing their journey. “The name of the show ranged from ‘Keeping Up With the Gaines,’ which was my vote all along for obvious reasons, all the way to what we have today, which is ‘Fixer Upper.’”
Chip and Joanna have lawsuits pending in McLennan County court over their other Magnolia properties. A fan sued them after she was injured at the Magnolia Silos, and their neighbor sued them over a fence they put up on the property.
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