Back in 2011, when I was working at the Houston Press, I wrote a profile of Brian Culwell, a three-time felon once described as "a man of infinite dances" by federal judge Lynn Hughes. Although Culwell's past included numerous stints behind bars and a trail of scams and schemes dating back to the months after his graduation from Spring Westfield High School, he was apparently flourishing and on the straight and narrow by 2011.
He'd picked just the right business at exactly the right time. With the price of gold reaching stratospheric levels, G&S Buyers were popping up in strip malls all over town and across the country.
Conservative KTRH pundit Michael Berry endorsed them on the radio, and Mickey Gilley touted them on the company’s website. During one Yuletide, Sunny 99.1 claimed to be broadcasting their schmaltzy round-the-clock Christmas music from the “Gold & Silver Buyers Studios.” Billboards bearing the company’s cringeworthy “We Love Gold-Diggers!” slogan were slapped up near many a local freeway.
By early 2012, Culwell had officially ceded control of both Gold & Silver Buyers and its controlling LLC Graymeiren Holdings, both to his wife, Amelia Culwell. Amelia has since become the face of the company in ads and online, a role she also fills for Goldwiser, the name that some former Gold and Silver Buyers storefronts started using fairly recently.
Meanwhile, in September of last year, Brian Culwell filed a defamation suit against a man named Norman Carl Kraatz. Culwell claimed Kraatz defamed and libelled him in an email Kraatz sent to Michael Berry, one of Kraatz's local favorites on the radio dial.
Selections from that email...
"Wanted to let you know that you are advertising for a rapist."
"My best friends son worked for Gold and Silver Buyers and a girl that worked for them was drugged and raped by the owner."
"I know this because my friends son [name redacted] was key in the owner settling out of court for 7 million dollars."
[Name redacted] was dating the girl at the time and he knew that she went and had a rape test...and the results showed she was drugged and raped."
Apparently Berry forwarded the email to Culwell, who denied the allegations and promptly sued Kraatz. (Interestingly, Gold & Silver Buyers Inc. was listed as a plaintiff in that suit, even though Culwell claims that his only affiliation comes through his marriage to Amelia.) That case is set for trial in November.
Full disclosure: Culwell once sued me for defamation after he heard that I had asked one of his landlords some pointed questions about his past. And in truth, I had slipped up in my facts. I had erronerously informed the landlord that Culwell had gone to prison for a jewelry scam involving the name of Hakeem Olajuwon's Dream Kids charity.
In fact, that case had been dropped when he was convicted of swindling a bed-ridden old lady out of her Heights home, and then illegally passed that deed on to one of his creditors. Culwell lost the suit against me.)
Meanwhile gold prices took a tumble, and apparently Graymeiren and Gold & Silver Buyers were not fully prepared, because even as expansion has continued outside Texas, the companies have been hit with a rash of breach-of-lease lawsuits this summer. (In all cases, Graymeiren is named as a guarantor of the lease, and Amelia Culwell is named as both Gold and Silver Buyers and Graymeiren’s registered agent.)
- On July 11, 2013. Boundary Realty Group LLC, sued over non-payment of rent and the abandonment of a Gold & Silver Buyers storefront in the 2400 block of Fulton. Boundary claims Gold & Silver Buyers quit paying their $3217 monthly rent in April 2012 (a mere two months into a five-year lease) and abandoned the premises by May 2013. In this case, the defendants have issued a general denial.
- At the end of August, the Saxenian Family Partnership sued Graymeiren over another broken lease, this one on Main Street in Pearland. SFP seeks the $50,000 balance allegedly due them through the lease contract. No response has yet been filed.
- About 10 days later, WRI-AEW Lone Star Retail Portfolio filed two more breach-of-lease suits against G&S and Graymeiren. One concerns a Telephone Road location of G&S, the other a Fuqua location, both of them abandoned. Taken together, the two suits claim that WRI is owed more than $250,000 in unpaid rent. No response yet filed in either suit.
- Five days after the WRI suits, on September 11, Graymeiren / Gold & Silver Buyers was sued yet again, this time by TMCK Interests LLC. TMCK claims that they are owed more than 40 months rent on a now-abandoned storefront on Jones Road in the Cypress area. Graymeiren issued a general denial earlier this month.
- In June, in a case that somewhat deviates from the norm, Graymeiren sued HPK Properties LLC for allegedly evicting them without cause from a storefront on Stuebner-Airline Drive. HPK denied that allegation and countersued Graymeiren on August 29, claiming that they had committed an unauthorized build-out and abandoned the property. HPK seeks between $100,000 and $200,000 from Graymeiren. HPK's attorney Nathan Steadman tells Houstonia that Graymeiren had closed down the Gold & Silver Buyers and reopened as Goldwiser, which he says is an entity completely unrelated to Graymeiren or G&S and thus not privy to the terms of the original lease.
- And earlier this month, American Express Travel Realted Services Inc. hit Graymeiren with a lawsuit demanding repayment of more than $508,000 in cash advances. Graymeiren has apparently not yet been served with a copy of that suit.
According to the Travis County Appraisal District’s website, Graymeiren owns two ritzy properties in Austin: a $1.65m home in the Rob Roy subdivision and a downtown condo in the W Austin appraised at $1.3m.
We’ve tried to contact Amelia Culwell for comment and we will update when and if she contacts us. Citing the fact that discovery has yet to begin in his case, one of the landlord's attorneys declined comment.