Clipped: Court Orders Girlfriend of Former Clippers Owner Donald Sterling To Repay Roughly $3 Million In Gifts To Sterling’s Wife

gavel2A California judge has ruled that the girlfriend of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling must pay back the $2.6 million given to her in gifts from Sterling in a surprising ruling that defines these gifts as community property even though the couple was separated and moving toward divorce. Judge Richard Fruin Jr. awarded Shelly Sterling most of the nearly $3 million she had sought. I have previously discussed how the case highlights the often troubling line of what constitutes prostitution and what constitutes a gifts. [Notably both Sterling and Stiviano deny having a sexual relationship] If Sterling had given V. Stiviano money directly for sex, it would be illegal. Instead, he gave her millions in gifts as part of a relationship. Regardless of where to draw that particular line, Fruin said that the line on community property is drawn to include the house, luxury cars and expensive gifts given to Stiviano as she served as the companion of the octogenarian Sterling.

The decision is obviously sweet justice for Shelly Sterling, particularly after tape conversations showing Stiviano laying the groundwork for claiming that these are gifts, including one conversation played in court where she tells Sterling “The truth is that everything that I have, you’ve given me from your heart without me begging or asking or throwing myself all over you.” Very creepy. Stiviano also claimed that, while Sterling paid for most of the luxury duplex, she contributed an unknown amount of small bills that she kept in a dresser drawer.

In just over two years, Sterling gave her a Ferrari, a Bentley and a Range Rover, and paid the lion’s share of a $1.8 million duplex. Anyone looking at (or listening to) Sterling might conclude that Stiviano still got the worst end of the deal. However, I am still unclear as how this line is drawn. Clearly, both Sterlings gave gifts to various people during this period. However, the size of the gifts appear the determinative factor.

In the meantime, Stiviano has insisted that their relationship was not romantic and that Sterling was more of a “father figure.” Sterling also insisted that they never had sex.

Mrs. Sterling initially sought about $3.6 million but secured $2.8 million, based on evidence at trial and Stiviano’s own admissions.

Clearly, given the $2 billion sale of the Clippers, this was not about the money for Mrs. Sterling.

89 thoughts on “Clipped: Court Orders Girlfriend of Former Clippers Owner Donald Sterling To Repay Roughly $3 Million In Gifts To Sterling’s Wife”

  1. I must admit, I am still struggling to understand the rationale behind this judge’s ruling. If, in fact, as this article alleges, the VALUE of the gifts, which were given to the girlfriend, was the determining factor in this ruling, since both Mr. Sterling and his wife gave various people gifts during the course of the marriage, wouldn’t the value of those gifts (in relation to the total net worth of the couple) come into play? Allegedly, the Sterlings have a net worth of 3 billion dollars. While I may view the gifts as exorbitant, given the three million value, in the broader picture, these gifts were relatively modest when factoring in the couple’s net worth. The 3 million in gifts, given to the girlfriend, would be the equivalent of someone else, married, giving away $200 or $500 to a person outside of the marriage. Can anyone imagine a judge, in matrimonial court, entertaining the aggrieved spouse demanding the return of a $200 or $500 gift given to the other spouse’s paramour? I can’t. Especially if the funds were drawn from a joint account, where both parties have the right to deposit/withdraw from those funds. If Mrs. Sterling wanted to have full knowledge of any withdrawals from the joint bank accounts, I assert that she should have availed herself to the restrictions, available in our financial institutions, which allow one to confine bank transfers or withdrawals, from joint accounts, to only be made when all parties give specific consent. From what I understand, these restrictions exist and are available. Given Mr. Sterling’s reputation for engaging in other dalliances over the course of the marriage, and Mrs. Sterling’s knowledge of such, I don’t see how Mrs. Sterling could now claim ignorance of the possibility of such transfers of money and gifts occurring. She was, as they say, put on notice of this possibility. I view this ruling more as a form of retribution, against the girlfriend, which is not grounded in the law.

  2. Kanye West & Talent in the same paragraph is an oxymoron. Silly dude even tried to cut in on Jay-Z with Beyonce’ in his recent awards fiasco. Who pays guys like him?

  3. No offense Bam Bam but I will pass on Kanye West. He is too much attitude for matter how much talent he might have. (lol) He is the Gold Digger imo

  4. Ingannie

    I’m a white girl with soul, but I ain’t no gold digga. πŸ™‚

  5. Squeeky, you two sound like kindred spirits. White people can have soul, ya know.

  6. When I read this article, this song came to mind. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a little musical entertainment from Jamie Foxx and Kanye West, the Shakespeares of our time. Who said she a gold digga?

    The video without the lyrics is more entertaining, but I figured that the lyrics may be needed by some on here. πŸ™‚

  7. I should add: “As if I could.” I just like women who can exude glamor without taking their clothes off….particularly if they are bright.

  8. Paul C. … I agree. Though I’m happily encumbered for 33+ years now, I still enjoy the occasional banter with beautiful women, like the hostess at a local place I mentioned earlier….but I’ve never felt compelled to buy them a Ferrari πŸ™‚

  9. Paul C. …Eewwwww. But you do have a point, now if only she worked out of someplace in Storey County, Nevada.

  10. “… both Sterling and Stiviano deny having a sexual relationship …” This sounds strange given the amount of money that went into these presents. On the other hand … maybe he and his estranged wife also never had a sexual relationship which a) would explain her net worth by now and b) explain why he made little of giving another woman a lot of value too for being his (newest) muse. The odious thing here is that prostitution in the US is treated as a crime and that gives leverage to fight any donation that has been made in good faith. Taking this a bit further: will we some day see similar tussles about extra-marital affairs in same-sex relationships? I think it is high time for a legal overhaul. If food were treated like sexual matters are, then a lot of people would be in jail for eating. Oh, yes, we already are closer than I thought: people do get fined for feeding e.g. the homeless. Brave New World.

    1. Oona Houlihan – studies have shown that the average married couple spend 17 minutes talking to each other. I could be that Sterling was willing to pay for the attention the young lady was paying to him. Clearly his wife no longer was.

  11. Short version: no frolic in the sack is that good. Ever. You got 6 figure plus “gifts”…you are still a whore. Give it up.

  12. Some one please tell me why I do not care?

    What should I care about about Mr Sterling or his mistress of whatever relationship?

    Why should I care? The old coot (and I am also an old coot) spent his community property on his “girlfriend” …what a crock. Hope she can pay it back. Stiviano is nothing but a hustler. Give it back lady, do the right thing.

    1. Aridog – I am thinking she earned every dime she got being with Sterling.

  13. And this is who and what our system and law protects the vast majority of time.


  14. @ Paul C

    Of course he will. Fight. However, if a court decides that it is in his best interest to be “protected” financially, he may not have any or many options.

    People with degenerative mental conditions are very often found to be incompetent or unable to handle their affairs and appointed a trustee by the court to take care of them or even be established in a nursing home environment. In many cases it is a public trustee and not a private lawyer. This won’t be the case for him, though.

    With his wealth, he and his family, will likely be able to establish a very generous trust and very very comfortable living. The point is to protect the rest of his assets and those of his family so that he doesn’t make terrible decisions in his diminished capacity that will impoverish or harm himself and others.

    It happens all the time. Sadly.

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