Donald Sterling Net Worth, Building a Billion-Dollar Empire: Donald Sterling’s Success Story

Donald Sterling is an American business magnate and former attorney who boasts a net worth of $4 billion. Sterling is most famously known for his controversial ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA team he acquired in 1981 and managed until 2014. He started his career as a lawyer before transitioning into real estate, where he built a substantial portfolio in the Los Angeles area.

How Did Donald Sterling Begin His Career?

Donald Sterling, born Donald Tokowitz on April 26, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois, to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, began his career in law. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was two, and he grew up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1952, where he was a member of the gymnastics team and served as class president. Sterling continued his education at California State University, Los Angeles, graduating in 1956, and then attended Southwestern University School of Law, graduating in 1960. In 1959, Sterling and his wife Shelly changed their last name from Tokowitz to Sterling for easier pronunciation and perceived financial advantages.

What Led Donald Sterling to Real Estate?

Sterling started his professional career in 1961 as a divorce and personal injury attorney. Facing limited opportunities for Jews in prestigious law firms, he established his own practice. Alongside his legal career, Sterling began investing in real estate. His first property was a 26-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills. Over the 1960s, he expanded his investments, including the purchase of the Lesser Towers in Westwood, which he renamed Sterling Towers, and the leasing of the California Bank Building, renamed Sterling Plaza.

How Extensive is Donald Sterling’s Real Estate Portfolio?

By April 2014, Sterling owned 162 properties in Los Angeles. His real estate holdings extended beyond LA to include properties in Orange County, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Despite his success, Sterling faced legal challenges, such as a lawsuit in which a Los Angeles jury ordered him to pay $17.3 million to actress Robyn Cohen, who lost her belongings in a fire at one of his West Hollywood properties.

How Did Donald Sterling Acquire the Los Angeles Clippers?

In 1981, Donald Sterling bought the San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million, inspired by his friend Jerry Buss, who had purchased the Los Angeles Lakers. Initially, the Clippers struggled under Sterling’s ownership, not achieving a winning season until 1991-1992, eleven years after his purchase. Sterling attempted to move the team to Los Angeles in 1982, a move initially blocked by the NBA and its owners. However, he succeeded in moving the team to LA in 1984, despite a $25 million fine, which was later reduced to $6 million.

What Were the Major Changes Under Sterling’s Ownership?

The Clippers played at various venues, including the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, before settling at the Staples Center in 1999. Sterling invested $50 million in a state-of-the-art practice facility and team headquarters in Playa Vista, opened in 2008. Despite these investments, Sterling’s management was often criticized, and the Clippers were ranked as the worst franchise in professional sports by ESPN The Magazine in 2009. Sterling was repeatedly labeled the “worst owner in sports” by multiple publications.

What Was the Racist Controversy Involving Donald Sterling?

In April 2014, a recording of Sterling making racist remarks to his mistress, V. Stiviano, surfaced, leading to widespread outrage. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million. Silver also stripped Sterling of his authority over the Clippers and moved to force a sale of the team.

How Was the Sale of the Clippers Handled?

In May 2014, Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, negotiated the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, for $2 billion. This sale marked the end of Sterling’s controversial tenure as the longest-serving owner in NBA history.

What is Known About Donald Sterling’s Personal Life?

Donald Sterling married Rochelle “Shelly” Stein in 1957, and they had three children. The couple became estranged in 2012. Tragically, their oldest son, Scott, died in 2013 from an apparent drug overdose in his Malibu apartment.

Donald Sterling’s legacy is a mix of substantial business success and significant controversy, particularly regarding his tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers. His life story reflects the complexities of his professional achievements and personal failings, leaving a lasting impact on the sports world and beyond.


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