LOS ANGELES (AP) — Before a woman’s recordings of Donald Sterling ousted him as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, she boasted she would be the next Mrs. Sterling.
V. Stiviano would pick up envelopes of cash in an alley behind the billionaire’s real estate company and told employees at the firm she would one day be their boss.
Those predictions revealed in court testimony seemed like fantasy as Sterling’s estranged wife went after the millions of dollars in gifts, including a house, Ferrari and designer clothes, that she said the younger woman swindled from community property the couple amassed over 60 years of marriage.
“She defrauded him, and I feel that she is not entitled to any of these gifts or whatever they call them,” Shelly Sterling testified Wednesday. “She’s been very, very nasty to me, and she’s been mean to my husband.”
An accountant testifying for Shelly Sterling said Thursday that the $3.6 million he estimates Stiviano got from Donald Sterling was a conservative estimate.
Based on a recent posting by Stiviano on Instagram boasting of having a 2016 Ferrari and $1 million in an overseas bank account, witness Jay Shapiro said a full accounting requires a deeper investigation than he conducted to trace money he believes Sterling provided to Stiviano.
Shapiro ridiculed Stiviano’s claim that she contributed $1 million toward the duplex from small bills friends and family members gave her that she squirreled away in a drawer.
“It would be an awful big drawer,” Shapiro said. “I find the entire story incredulous.”
Stiviano, 32, is scheduled to testify later in the civil trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The trial put the Sterlings and Stiviano in the same room about a year after the recording of Donald Sterling telling Stiviano not to publicly associate with blacks culminated with his lifetime ban from the NBA and the record $2 billion sale of the team.
Whether Stiviano was ever a girlfriend to the billionaire, as his wife contends, she was downgraded to “ex-friend” when Donald Sterling took the stand.
The 80-year-old, who has been diagnosed with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, was at times forgetful and testy. He said Stiviano had not contributed “50 cents” to the $1.8 million duplex now in her name.
Sterling, a lawyer and shrewd businessman who made a fortune buying apartment buildings across Los Angeles, said the house was supposed to be in the name of his family trust. Noting that Stiviano is part black and Hispanic, he said she illegally got her name inserted into escrow documents by befriending a Hispanic bank employee who added her name to a $1 million check.
Stiviano’s lawyer, Mac Nehoray, said Donald Sterling gave the gifts when he was separated from his wife and that no real community property was transferred to his client. Further, he said the law does not allow a spouse to seek that money from a third party.
The chief financial officer of Sterling’s real estate company testified that he notified Shelly Sterling of questionable checks her husband was drawing from the business.
Darren Schield said he witnessed Stiviano getting envelopes of cash or cashier’s checks from employees at Beverly Hills Properties and she once told the accounting department they would one day work for her.
“I thought it was pure lunacy,” he said.
The Sterlings, who were at odds in the same courthouse when Shelly won the right to sell the team last year over her husband’s objections, presented a mostly unified front.
While Donald Sterling denied the couple was ever estranged, his wife said they lived separately after the death of a son. She also said she had divorce papers drafted last year but never filed them.
She said their relationship was strong. One close family friend, Betsy Superfon, said she vacations with the two and often feels like a third wheel as they walk hand-in-hand.
She described meeting Stiviano in restroom once at a Clippers game where the “friendly girl” complimented on her coat and purse. When she returned the favor, Stiviano gushed that Donald Sterling had bought her things and she planned to marry him.
“I said, ‘But he’s married to my girlfriend,” Superfon said.
“No worries, honey,” Stiviano replied. “I’m going to be the next Mrs. Sterling.”
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