The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are entrepreneurs, twins, Olympic rowers, and Harvard graduates. They are best known, however, for alleging that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from them back in early 2004.

The brothers sued Zuckerberg and Facebook in the fall of 2004. After many years of legal back-and-forth, the Winklevosses won a settlement from Facebook estimated to be worth $50 million or more. The Winklevoss's allegations helped fuel an image of Facebook CEO Zuckerberg as a sleazy, untrustworthy punk—an image that the forthcoming Facebook movie, The Social Network, apparently hammers home.

The Winklevoss brothers, meanwhile, have been cast as victims—honorable, clean-cut, scholar-athletes who fell for the charms of a gifted but morally compromised Zuckerberg.

Well, it turns out the Winklevosses had some legal troubles of their own.

In the spring of 2005, after graduating from Harvard, the brothers were allegedly evicted by their landlord from a $4,600 per month apartment they had rented in Cambridge.

Their alleged transgressions?

Failure to pay rent, a series of complaints about partying and noise, and an arrest after a fight in which Cameron allegedly attacked Tyler with a hammer.

Months after the eviction, moreover, the owners of the apartment complex that booted the brothers out, the Regatta Riverview, sued them for intentionally attempting to damage its reputation.

The suit, obtained by Business Insider, alleges that, after their eviction, Cameron and Tyler took revenge on the Regatta Riverview by acquiring several Web domains that resembled Regatta's – including regattaboston.org and regattaboston.net – and posting "false, misleading, and defamatory" statements about the apartment complex on those sites.

The suit also alleges that the brothers bought ads from Google and other search companies to direct traffic to these sites.

Two days after Regatta filed the lawsuit, the Winklevosses settled it. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss declined to comment for this article.

It's not news that college students and recent grads – including Mark Zuckerberg – act stupidly sometimes. But it's now harder for the Winklevosses to lay claim to the moral high ground.

We've excerpted some details from Regatta's lawsuit below. Obviously this document only represents one side of the story.

A few months after graduating from Harvard, the Winklevoss brothers rented a luxury penthouse in Cambridge—for $4600 a month:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

A year after graduating, the twins were the subjects of several late night/early morning noise complaints:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

At one point, police arrested Cameron Winklevoss for assaulting his brother. No charges were filed:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

The suit alleges the brothers failed to pay their rent:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

...All of it got the brothers booted.

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

In alleged revenge, the brothers registered several Web sites mimicking the apartment complex 's own web site:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

They also allegedly bought a bunch of search ads to drive traffic to the site:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

On the site, the brothers complained about the complex – it's prices, furniture…

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

…and its views, and locations:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

The Winklevoss brothers settled the suit TWO DAYS after it was filed:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

Satisfied, the apartment owners agreed to seal the suit:

The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers

The Winklevosses went on to train for the Olympics and win a $50+ million settlement from Facebook. You can read more about that here.


The Dark, Troubled Past of the Winklevoss Brothers Republished with permission from BusinessInsider.com. Authored by Nicholas Carlson. Photo, top, via Nick McGlynn/GuestofaGuest.com.