A millionaire investor being sued for defaulting on $56 million in business loans has argued that he should be off the hook — claiming that the bank knew he was using the cash to make divorce payments, buy a yacht and splash out on luxury homes.
Dan Burrell, a 45-year-old Aspen, Colo., resident, was sued by First Western Bank in November 2023 for failing to pay back the eight-figure loan, which was given to him in four installments between 2019 and 2022, according to The Denver Post.
Burrell countersued earlier this month, arguing that he shouldn’t have to pay the bank back since it knew he was using the business credit for personal expenses.
The bank has asked an Aspen judge to let it foreclose on six of Burrell’s properties as collateral.
Public records show that the businessman owns two homes in Basalt, Colo. and a 190-acre ranch in New Mexico, valued at $21.1 million, which is currently up for auction.
However, per a report on luxury real estate listings site Mansion Global, only one of Burrell’s five children are still living at home, so Burrell and his wife, Nikola, have decided to downsize.
First Western reportedly wants to foreclose on Burrell’s home in Aspen and ranch near the affluent ski town, as well as a property in Nantucket and land in Vero Beach, Fla., according to The Denver Post.
In his countersuit, Burrell argued that if First Western forecloses on his properties, “Burrell, Burrell’s wife, and Burrell’s minor children are at risk of losing their primary residence and have incurred emotional distress,” according to the countersuit, The Denver Post reported.
In a bizarre twist, Burrell also argued that it was “improper” for the bank to give him business loans when it was well aware most of the funds would be spent on his personal life — such as his divorce payments, buying a yacht and building a house in Basalt, Colo.
“Additionally, First Western did not make a reasonable and good faith determination at or before consummation that Burrell had a reasonable ability to repay,” his countersuit states, per The Denver Post.
The bank also didn’t allow him to refinance, didn’t consistently provide him with paperwork for the loans and wrongly accepted his personal homes as collateral, Burrell alleged, the outlet reported.
Burrell’s counsel, attorneys Sarah Auchterlonie and Courtney Bartkus in the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
The Post has also sought comment from First Western Bank.
First Western’s CEO Scott Wylie referred to “a client we’ve had since 2018” who is “facing a liquidity crunch and becoming delinquent on their payments,” during an earnings call in October.
He noted that the bank had to declare the loans in default in order to seek the collateral, but assured: “We think we’re going to have a full recovery.
The real estate collateral that we have is in some very desirable markets. It’s in Aspen, it’s in Nantucket, it’s in (Florida),” he said.
Though Wylie didn’t name the borrower, Burrell argued that analysts listening to the call were able to figure it out, according to The Denver Post.
Burrell said that one listener even called him to ask about his personal finances.
This has caused Burrell and his investment company “reputational harm and public disgrace,” he argued.
Last month, Burrell and his second wife opened an auction for an 8,400-square-foot estate located on Aspen’s Red Mountain — the Burrell family’s “primary home,” according to Mansion Global — and a nearby, 4,200-acre ranch in Carbondale as part of an $86.5 million package.
Two of his children from his first marriage with Australian jewelry magnate Katherine Jetter are in college, while his third child with Jetter is set to head off to college next year.
Burrell also has two kids with Nikola — one of which is at a boarding school in Boston, leaving just one at home, according to Mansion Global.
Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions led the bidding, and has since marked the ranch on its website as “sale pending,” while the Red Mountain home’s bid deadline has been extended to Feb. 15.
Burrell, the founder of investment firm The Burrell Group, claimed that First Western’s lawsuit violates federal lending laws as it interferes with the auction of his Red Mountain estate, a property valued at $38.5 million.
He is also seeking damages for what he claims was an invasion of privacy and public outing of his financial situation by First Western, The Denver Post reported.