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Kanye West wanted home’s windows, electricity removed to make retro bomb shelter, lawsuit says

When Ye allegedly insisted that Tony Saxon move generators into the home, he refused, and Ye told him he would be “considered an enemy if he did not comply.”
Kanye West on May 22, 2022 in New York.
Kanye West in New York on May 22, 2022.Gotham / GC Images file

LOS ANGELES — A former project manager and property caretaker for Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, said Ye fired him after he refused to remove all of the windows and electricity from his Malibu home, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

When Ye allegedly insisted that Tony Saxon move large generators into the home, he refused, and Ye ordered him to “get the hell out” and told him he would be “considered an enemy if he did not comply,” according to the complaint, which Saxon’s law firm provided to NBC News.

“When Plaintiff refused to engage in unlawful conduct or to engage in activity that would further cause him physical injury, Mr. Ye responded: ‘If you don’t do what I say, you’re not going to work for me, I’m not gonna be your friend anymore and you’ll just see me on TV,’” the suit says, adding that Saxon told him he doesn’t watch TV.

Tony Saxon.
Tony Saxon.Courtesy Tony Saxon

Ye fired Saxon, who also worked for him as a security guard and caretaker at the property, on Nov. 5, 2021, for not complying with his “dangerous” requests, the suit says. 

Saxon, who worked for Ye for roughly two months, alleged that Ye promised to pay him $20,000 per week but made only two payments — one to cover Saxon’s weekly salary and another for the project’s budget, according to the suit.

“I always had his best interest in mind as a friend,” Saxon, 32, said in an interview, comparing the events that led to his firing to stopping a friend from driving drunk.

“They get really mad at you that you overstepped your boundaries, but still, they could have gotten really hurt,” he said.

Lawsuit details

The lawsuit alleges violations of multiple labor codes, including dangerous working conditions, unpaid wages and wrongful retaliatory termination.

“Ye has shown a reckless disregard toward his employees and has flouted the law in unbelievably dangerous ways throughout this entire project at the Malibu house,” Saxon’s lawyer Ron Zambrano said in a statement describing the allegations in the lawsuit.

“He continues his pattern of not paying his bills while treating workers terribly. No employee should have to suffer through the sort of working conditions Mr. Saxon was forced to endure, yet Ye showed no concern and merely wanted the work done, despite the hazardous and unsafe, not to mention illegal, actions he was trying to force the plaintiff to undertake,” Zambrano said.

Lawyers for Ye didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

'Building him a Bat Cave'

Saxon, who described himself in the interview as a jack of all trades with a background in music, design and construction, said he was hired through a referral.

Saxon said Ye’s vision for the Tadao Ando-designed beach house, which he reportedly bought in September 2021 in an off-market deal, was to make the home like “a bomb shelter from the 1910s” by demolishing the custom marble bathrooms, removing the custom windows, plumbing and electricity and replacing the stairs with slides. 

A worker demolishes glass at Ye’s Malibu home.
A worker demolishes glass at Ye’s home in Malibu, Calif.Courtesy Tony Saxon

“We were going to be gutting all of that out and sort of building him a Bat Cave” where he said he could “hide from the Clintons in and the Kardashians in,” Saxon said, adding that he initially believed Ye wanted to make an “art project” — not a place to live.

“As we progress, it’s becoming clear that, no, he wants to live in here,” he said.

But Ye "wanted no electricity. He only wanted plants. He only wanted candles. He only wanted battery lights. And he just wanted to have everything open and dark,” Saxon said.  

“You can’t keep food in that house, because you had no refrigerator left,” he said. "You had no windows. I had sea gulls flying in.”

Ye didn’t want to be a “slave” to modern conveniences, Saxon said, nor did he want to be “accessible” to the government.

“He wants to be on a privatized Wi-Fi network,” Saxon said. “He wants to have an alternate source of energy. He wants to have no doors, no windows, no fixtures, just concrete.”

Fired after making complaints

Saxon, who said he lived and slept in the home while he was working on it, described the conditions as “miserable” and Ye as unresponsive to his complaints. 

Ye fired Saxon three days after he complained about a severe back injury at a team meeting in which he allegedly ordered Saxon to remove the electricity and windows, according to the complaint.  

“Hopefully we can bury the hatchet, but I physically cannot do any more work like that anymore,” Saxon said. “My neck and my back have been destroyed.”

Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed by the same attorneys suing Ye over allegations connected to his private Christian school, Donda Academy, and its predecessor, Yeezy Christian Academy.

In a lawsuit filed in April, two former Donda teachers alleged a litany of bizarre rules, including bans on chairs, artwork on the walls, climbing the stairs and outside food. The school menu had only one item — sushi — according to the suit.

The teachers also described an institution with no disciplinary system, despite a problem with bullying. In a separate suit, the former assistant principal said that after the school opened in August 2021, it had no electricity — lessons were taught using generators — or glass in its windows.

A trial is set to begin in the teachers’ trial in April 2025. Lawyers for the school and Ye have denied the allegations, with one saying the teachers’ claims that “Donda Academy is a dystopian institution designed to satisfy Ye’s idiosyncrasies” were false.

Ye sued last week after his music was leaked by anonymous accounts on Instagram and X. According to the complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, lawyers for Ye said the leaks amount to theft of a trade secret.