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BH’s Version Of ‘The Donald’ Distributes Millions To Under-The-Radar Charities

Donald Sterling

By John L. Seitz, Beverly Hills Courier

When people around these parts hear the phrase “The Donald,” chances are they’re not thinking about a certain guy from Manhattan with a funny hairdo.

“I never, ever have believed in selling, anything.” Having that philosophy combined with an uncanny Midas touch, it’s hardly any wonder that Donald T. Sterling has acquired holdings the envy of any sultan or Hollywood mogul.

With 36 apartment buildings in Beverly Hills alone, plus 24 in Santa Monica, 44 on  mid-Wilshire and a goodly number of prime units in San Diego, he is the unquestioned market leader in every single one of those areas.

“And don’t forget we’re plenty strong in Westwood, Hollywood, Long Beach, Brentwood and Vegas, too,” Sterling exclaimed.

Because his business and sports (owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for 30 years)  endeavors are always so high profile–and often controversial in nature–he and his wife of 54-years Shelly’s, con-sistent, below the radar support of innumerable charities and schools for more than four decades is virtually unknown to the general public.

“I’ve never forgotten where I came from,” said Sterling, who never hides his East L.A. roots. “Education is the key to having a successful life and family but many underprivileged kids on the Eastside just don’t get that chance so I want to help them as much as possible.”

Just last December, the Donald T. Sterling Foundation handed out scholarships grants to 10 under-funded inner-city high schools (Belmont, Roosevelt, Garfield, Fremont, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson Lincoln, Manual Arts, and Wilson).

Some 30 charities were also included to the tune of $5 million.

These ranged from A Place Called Home, Vista Del Mar, Jeffrey Foundation, Junior Blind, 100 Black Men and Catholic Education Foundation to the Jewish Home for the Aging, Children’s Hospital L.A., Union Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Cedars-Sinai Heart Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund.

But just how did this Chicago-born, Boyle Heights-raised former divorce and personal injury lawyer himself become one of the most successful real estate and sports tycoons in America?

After attending Roosevelt High School, Cal State LA and Southwestern Law School, Sterling supplemented his “day job” income by purchasing his first apartment building, a 26-unit structure at 272 S. Rexford Dr. for $501,408 with a down payment of $25,000.

His formula was constant and has been maintained through 2011.

He would buy undervalued properties in good areas, improve them by adding marble floors in the lobbies, heavy landscaping and a fresh coat of paint.

By 1970, he owned 22 apartment buildings—all of them in Beverly Hills.

Shortly thereafter, he branched out into commercial real estate by purchasing and rehabing the former Louis B. Mayer building at the corner of Wilshire and Beverly Drive.

This became his Sterling Plaza headquarters. To this he has added the Beverly Comstock
Hotel and Malibu Yacht Club among others.

His acquisition prowess had reached such a level that in 1979 he was able to lend his friend Dr. Jerry Buss $2.7 million to complete the purchase of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings and The Forum from Jack Kent Cooke.

In exchange for the money, Sterling received a portion of the Buss portfolio of apartment structures.

Two years later, Buss suggested Sterling could have his own basketball franchise and the latter bought the San Diego Clippers for $13.5 million. (He then moved the team to Los Angeles and–though not sporting much of a winning record the past couple of decades–is still quite profitable to the point he was able to recently reject a serious $700 million offer from a unnamed Hollywood executive.)

“Sports’ television rights are in such high demand these days since we can provide the outlets with up to 100 hours of programming with minimal production costs,” said Sterling.

“In our own case with a budding star like Blake Griffin to build upon, we have a great  future,” he continued. “In fact, I like to think someday we could become the most popular sports team in Los Angeles.”

And with the undeniable success of his real estate and philanthropic ventures, don’t put anything past this dynamo who has rightfully been dubbed: “The man who bought Beverly
Hills.”

Copyright © 2011 Beverly Hills Courier

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