An American musician who won $20 million damages after being poisoned by toxic pesticide in Hong Kong is seeking to buy a luxury six-bedroom house in a ski resort, a court heard yesterday. Kristan Phillips, a former timpanist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, was awarded the money for injuries he suffered after inhaling the pesticide diazinon in 1987 during a practice session at the Academy for Performing Arts. He claimed the spraying left him with brain, neurological and cardiovascular damage and psychiatric problems. He was the only one of 80 to 90 musicians to be affected by the pesticide. Phillips, 47, lives in Jackson Hole, an upmarket ski resort in Wyoming. The $20 million award is being held by the High Court until an appeal by the five defendants in the suit is lodged this year. Phillips yesterday asked the courts to release $7 million to cover living expenses and a $3.5 million house which he plans to buy. The six-bedroom, four-bathroom house is surrounded by aspen trees, has a patio and a heated three-car garage. Lawyers for the former musician told the court the house was close to a medical centre. The companies in the appeal - the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Ciba-Geigy (Hong Kong), the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, Initial Environmental Services and Wong Ching Ho - argue that if the money goes to America there will be no guarantee it can be recovered if the appeal succeeds. Yesterday, Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt, in the Court of First Instance, said he would decide next week on how much Phillips would be allowed to get. All the defendants except Wong Ching Ho have placed their share of the award with the courts. Wong Ching Ho, which acted as a middleman distributor of the chemical in Hong Kong, told Mr Justice Seagroatt it would go bankrupt if it had to pay its $4 million share before the appeal. The judge said the company had not presented any proof of its financial difficulties and ordered the pesticide distributor to pay the full amount within the next two weeks.