LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new recording suggests Clippers owner Donald Sterling is planning an all-out fight to keep his team amid widespread criticism for allegedly racist comments he made in a leaked recording.
A tax expert says Sterling and his estranged wife, Shelly, have strong financial incentives to stake their claim in the NBA team. They could stand to lose $200 million in taxes.
“You can’t force someone to sell property in America. I’m a lawyer, that’s my opinion,” Sterling can be heard in the new recording obtained by Radar Online.
The rest of the audio makes it very clear Sterling intends on battling the NBA to keep the clippers. Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, says she’ll fight to keep her 50 percent of interest if the NBA forces them to sell.
“If somebody tries to sell the team or try to seize the team, look out for Shelly Sterling,” O’Donnell said.
“This is not a white, a black or a brown, or any combination of that issue. This is a green issue,” according to Brian Gilder, a certified financial planner who handles tax planning for professional athletes.
“Capital gains is the name of the game here,” Gilder said. “Donald Sterling might be better off passing away before he sells his team.”
The financial planner says the 80-year-old real estate mogul and his heirs have a lot to lose in a sale.
“He might fight until the day he dies in court, which may not actually be the worst thing. If Donald Sterling were to pass away his heirs would have a huge benefit, they would have what’s called a step-up in basis,” Gilder said.
Sterling reportedly paid $12.5 million for the Clippers. They now are reportedly worth close to $1 billion.
If Sterling sold now at that price, he’d be hit with more than $623 million in income and eventual estate taxes.
Gilder says if Sterling’s heirs inherited the team and later sold it for $1 billion, they’d only end up paying roughly $400 million in taxes, saving them $200 million.