LOS ANGELES >> Recordings that cost Donald Sterling ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers could cost the woman he was dating the fortune he lavished on her in gifts.
A lawyer for Sterling’s estranged wife played snippets of the conversations recorded by V. Stiviano as he laid out his case Wednesday on why she should return more than $3.6 million the billionaire gave her in gifts that included a duplex, Ferrari, jewelry and designer clothes.
Attorney Pierce O’Donnell said in Los Angeles Superior Court that Stiviano manipulated and deceived the 80-year-old to give away community property that also belonged to Shelly Sterling, his wife of 60 years.
“You’ll see evidence of a tangled web of lies and deception to keep Shelly Sterling in the dark,” O’Donnell said. “The record will show she was in it for the money.”
As both women looked on in court, defense 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 trial began 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 the NBA and the record $2 billion sale of the team.
Those same conversations, recorded on her cellphone, also show Stiviano conniving with Sterling to cover up the source of the money he gave her for the $1.8 million Spanish duplex near Beverly Hills.
“I don’t want anybody to take anything away from me,” she said in one recording.
Although she didn’t have a job or any income since 2010, millions of dollars flowed to Stiviano, who has “more bank accounts than Zsa Zsa Gabor has ex-husbands,” O’Donnell said.
In another recording, she tells Sterling: “Everything I have is everything you’ve given me.”
O’Donnell’s characterization of the Sterling’s marriage as growing stronger in recent years “despite Donald’s past and notorious dalliances” was questioned by Nehoray, who said Stiviano had been Sterling’s caretaker and spent every day with him at one point.
Nehoray pointed out that Shelly Sterling told Barbara Walters in an interview that the couple was separated and that she didn’t love her husband.
Donald Sterling, a lawyer known for relishing a skirmish, has also added his wife as a defendant in a lawsuit against the NBA for forcing the sale of the team. He is also suing two doctors who said he had symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis that allowed his wife to seize the family trust and sell the team.
Shelly Sterling claims Stiviano was her husband’s mistress, though the 32-year-old woman denied having a romantic relationship with him.
However, she has been photographed cozying up to him courtside at Clippers games and in selfies she posted on social media accounts.
In one image displayed by O’Donnell, she has her right arm around Sterling’s neck and her other hand between his legs. When asked if she had his hand on Sterling’s crotch or wallet, she commented on the Instagram account, “Both.”