LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his wife and the woman who videotaped him making racially insensitive remarks that cost him ownership of the team all appeared in court Wednesday for a trial that could cost her the fortune he gave her.
Shelly Sterling is going after the $2.5 million in real estate and cars her husband lavished on V. Stiviano in a trial that began Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Shelly Sterling accused Stiviano, 32, of befriending and seducing older, wealthy men into loaning her money, giving her gifts or cheating them out of their wealth. She claims the gifts were community property her husband of 58 years had no right to give away.
The trial comes nearly a year after Stiviano’s recording of Donald Sterling telling her not to publicly associate with blacks led to a bizarre series of events culminating with his lifetime ban from basketball and the record $2 billion sale of the team that was once the butt of jokes.
Sterling, a lawyer known for relishing a skirmish, vowed to fight the NBA to his death, filing lawsuits against the league and his wife in state and federal courts. He is also suing two doctors who said he had symptoms of Alzheimer’s, a diagnosis that allowed his wife to seize the family trust and sell the team.
The recording created a minor celebrity out of Stiviano, who was seen in photos cozying up to the 80-year-old billionaire courtside at Clippers games. She was shadowed by paparazzi as she emerged from her home wearing a large visor and other disguises, but remained a mystery.
Her Instagram account bio described her as an “artist, lover, writer, chef, poet, stylist, philanthropist.”
A month before the recording surfaced, Shelly Sterling had sued Stiviano, who she said met her husband at the 2010 Super Bowl and was his mistress.
Stiviano has also been called Sterling’s girlfriend, though she’s denied having a romantic relationship with him.
Stiviano is expected on the witness stand Thursday.
Whatever the nature of their relationship was, Sterling showered Stiviano with pricey gifts that included a $1.8 million Spanish duplex near Beverly Hills, a Ferrari and two Bentleys.
The fortune represents just a fraction of wealth the Sterlings amassed through a portfolio of 160 apartment buildings around Los Angeles.
Stiviano’s attorney denied in court papers that Stiviano took advantage of Sterling, saying that there was no evidence “the feminine wiles of Ms. Stiviano overpowered the iron will of Donald T. Sterling who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.”
Judge Richard Fruin previously tossed out Stiviano’s countersuit that claimed she had been defamed by Shelly Sterling. Fruin said she presented no evidence to support her claim that Shelly Sterling called her a thief and an embezzler in media reports.
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