Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, 46, died of smoke inhalation as a result of a Connecticut house fire last month
Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh received a letter from his friend Jewel three months before he died in which she told him he was in trouble and that he was taking too many drugs.
The 46-year-old entrepreneur, who had an estimated net worth of $840 million, died of smoke inhalation as a result of a Connecticut house fire last month.
His family say he did not have a will or an estate plan prior to his death.
Since his shock death, those close to Hsieh have painted a dark picture of his heavy drug use, which they say escalated after he quit as CEO of the online shoe giant Zappos in August.
They say he lost contact with some who were close to him, he’d embarked on a digital detox and had considerably increased his use of the laughing gas nitrous oxide.
Jewel, a singer and longtime friend of Hsieh, wrote him a letter raising her concerns after visiting him at one of his homes in Park City, Utah, back in August.
The letter, which was obtained by Forbes, warned that Hsieh was at risk of being remembered as drug addict and not the tech visionary he was.
She wrote that his current lifestyle choices were putting him in danger of crossing from ‘eccentric to madness’.
Jewel had gone to visit Hsieh, who she initially met on Richard Branson’s Necker Island, in Park City where he was trying to build a community of entrepreneurs and artists.
Hsieh received a letter from his friend Jewel three months before he died in which she told him he was in trouble and that he was taking too many drugs. She is pictured above during a tribute song she posted online for him on Wednesday
The singer, who posted a song tribute to Hsieh online this week, was meant to spend the week but left abruptly after just one day. She wrote the letter to him soon after.
‘I am going to be blunt,’ she wrote. ‘I need to tell you that I don’t think you are well and in your right mind. I think you are taking too many drugs that cause you to disassociate.
‘The people you are surrounding yourself with are either ignorant or willing to be complicit in you killing yourself.
‘When you look around and realize that every single person around you is on your payroll, then you are in trouble. You are in trouble, Tony.
‘If the world could see how you are living, they would not see you as a tech visionary, they would see you as a drug addicted man who is a cliche. And that’s not how you should go down or be known.
‘Your body cannot take not sleeping. And the amount of N2O you are doing is not natural. You will not hack sleep and you will not outsmart nature.’
The references to his drug taking in her letter are in line with interviews DailyMail.com conducted this week with some of his friends and colleagues.
They said that Hsieh’s drug abuse was growing fast at the time of his death and that it escalated after he quit as CEO.
One colleague said Hsieh surrounded himself with people who ‘enabled’ his addictions.
Hsieh, 46, was pulled unconscious from a burning shed (pictured) attached to a waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, shortly after 3.30am on November 18. He died in hospital nine days later
Hsieh died in hospital nine days after he was pulled unconscious from a burning shed attached to a $1.3 million home in New London, Connecticut, back on November 18
‘There was always people around, people living in his homes. He lived to bring people together and even wrote a book about bringing happiness. So it’s sad that he was all alone in a storage area when he was injured,’ the colleague said.
‘His heavy alcohol and drug use was known by everyone around him,’ a colleague said. ‘Anyone that challenged him about it was cast aside.
‘The talk among his former colleagues at Zappos is that Tony was likely in the shed blacked out drunk and on drugs. He was a major alcoholic and a drug addict. He was hardcore.’
Some friends said they feared that his use of the laughing gas nitrous oxide and his love of candles could have caused the fire that killed him.
‘In recent months the nitrous oxide had become as important to Tony as his alcohol,’ one close colleague said. ‘And Grey Goose vodka was his best friend.’
He would take it in the form of whippets – straight from the cartridge of a whipped cream dispenser.
‘He would take dozens of them a day,’ the colleague said.
‘He lived a crazy, eccentric life. The drugs often made him hallucinate, he became paranoid – that could explain why he barricaded himself in,’ he added.
‘Tony was very fond of candles. He liked to set the atmosphere.’
‘The guess is that he managed to ignite one of the nitrous oxide canisters which caused a small explosion that killed him.’
The fire broke out around 3:30 am on November 18 at a $1.3 million waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, where Hsieh, former CEO of the giant Zappos empire and his brother had been staying
While nitrous oxide isn’t flammable, it does accelerate the burning of combustible material that is already alight.
Hsieh died in hospital nine days after he was pulled unconscious from a burning shed attached to a $1.3 million home in New London, Connecticut, back on November 18.
A 911 dispatch tape obtained by DailyMail.com this week revealed that he was ‘barricaded’ inside the shed at the time.
‘The male is barricaded inside and not answering the door,’ the dispatcher says. ‘Everyone else is outside the house. They are trying to get him to open up.’
Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3.30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property.
He was pronounced dead in hospital on November 27.
His family say they are unaware of any will or ‘fully executed estate plan’, according to court documents filed and obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos was among those to pay tribute to him, saying: ‘The world lost you way too soon. Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace’
Ivanka Trump, who previously had a shoe line sold on Zappos, was also among those paying tribute to Hsieh (pictured together), who she worked with through her fashion business
Hsieh’s mother Judy and brother David are listed as his next of kin in the court documents.
His family are seeking permission to investigate whether he does in fact have an estate plan by gaining access to his safe deposit boxes and accounts, as well as speak to his lawyers and associates.
The court filings says his family ‘need to gain access to (Hsieh’s) personal papers that may be in a safe deposit box or in the possession of legal counsel. The inability to readily locate any such fully executed estate planning documents has created a delay in the ability to file to have letters of administration or letters testamentary issued.’
Medical examiners determined on Monday that he died of complications from smoke inhalation.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled his death an accident but a death certificate attached to his family court documents say an official cause is pending further investigation.
A spokeswoman for the office said the ruling was made before toxicology reports, which are not due till after the New Year, have been completed. She said that wouldn’t change the cause of death unless the medical examiner deemed the tests relevant.