This case involves a billionaire real estate mogul and owner of a sports franchise who is “betrayed” (depending on how you look at it) by two women (his wife and his mistress) and the NBA.
Donald Sterling’s mistress V. Stiviano
Former divorce lawyer Donald Sterling, nee Donald Tokowitz, is a very interesting fella. The billionaire octogenarian owner of the Los Angeles Clippers – as well as a regular on the Forbes List of Billionaires (as well as real estate mogul) is in the battle of his life after he got himself into a major debacle when he invoked a bunch of racist polemics against Black people in general, and former NBA great Magic Johnson in particular back in April. He made these utterances to his then girlfriend, a Black woman by the name of V. Stiviano. Stiviano was allegedly miffed because she had been sued by the Sterling family (at the behest of Shelly Sterling – Donald’s wife – for the return of a cache of expensive gifts that include Bentleys, a Ferrari and a $1.8 Million Los Angeles Duplex – this according to media reports. (See for example, www.forbes.com.)
Apparently, Ms Stiviano secretly taped Mr Sterling in one of his racist rants (think Oksana and Mel Gibson) and turned the tapes over to TMZ which then broadcast the tape for the world.
The conséquences of Donald Sterling’s racist rants
The Sterling utterances were deemed so offensive as to have violated the “moral clause” of the NBA’s bylaws. The result was a $2.5 million fine by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and a lifetime ban by the NBA which, naturally Mr Sterling is contesting. Some people argue that the punishment does not fit the crime. And it does seem like a harsh deal when you consider that racist rants are not really all that uncommon in society. These were not nice things to say and might even be described as “sad,” “nasty” and “strange” given that this man was dating a Black woman. But in at least some circumstances, it is a bit hypocritical to throw the book at this guy (heck ban him for life and force him to sell his team) for saying stuff that so many people (including in the NBA) commonly say and think with impugnity. Sure, there should be conséquences but a life time ban? Forcing the guy to sell the team? I don’t know. But that’s another issue. The more interesting part of the fight is the one he is having with his wife Shelly for control of the Sterling Family Trust which is valued at more than $2 billion dollars.
Donald Sterling v Shelly Sterling
By all accounts, if indeed the Sterlings divorce, this will be a “grey divorce.” Donald and Shelly Sterling have been married for 58 years but they are alleged to be on the brink of a divorce. Ostensibly, the marriage cracked up in 2012 when, allegedly at their Malibu beach house, Mrs Sterling discovered her husband talking to one of his alleged mistresses (according to a Wikipédia report). However, Shelly is not going anywhere till a Los Angeles probate court decides if she has the right to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to the highest bidder, who, at this time appears to be Steve Ballman, former executive at Microsoft.
Mr Sterling is said to be devastated by his estranged wife’s legal wranglings, and last Wednesday was said to explode at her in the middle of the court session, “get away from me you Pig!” She, meanwhile, has been successful at getting a bunch of head doctors to declare him mentally incompetent on at least marginally afflicted with Alzheimers.
In 1981, the then happily married former divorce and personal injury attorney, Mr Sterling, and his wife, acquired the Los Angeles Clippers for a mere $12.5 million dollars. If the sale is approved by the probate court next week, is set to get a heck of a return on his investment at a proposed sale price of $2 billion dollars. However, if the sale is not approved, there is some contention that the Union could put the team up for auction.
Mother of four (all by her husband Donald) Shelly Sterling is trying to avoid the team being auctioned off because obviously she won’t have control over the selling price. She knows that this show is over (at least with respect to the lifetime ban if not her marriage) and it is clear that she is trying to salvage as much as she can of this marital and family asset so that when the divorce is finalized, if it is, there will be assets to distribute. You can’t blame Shelly for doing her best to get the best deal she can in this situation. She put 58 of her best years into this marriage and god only knows how much into helping to run and manage the team. It must have been tough to have been reduced to the moniker of a “pig” by her husband in open court. Although, something tells me that that is the least of her cares.