V. Stiviano, Rochelle Sterling legal battle at heart of scandal
In some ways, the scandal surrounding Clippers owner Donald Sterling over his alleged racially charged comments has its roots in a legal battle between his female friend, V. Stiviano, and his wife, Rochelle Sterling.
Here is a rundown:
What is the legal action about?
Nearly 50 years Sterling’s junior, Stiviano was sued last month by Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, who seeks the return of her $1.8-million L.A. duplex as well as a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover she said her husband bought for Stiviano.
Rochelle Sterling alleges in the lawsuit that her husband met Stiviano at the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami. The suit describes Stiviano, 31, as a seductress who targets wealthy older men like the 80-year-old Sterling.
According to property records, Stiviano purchased the duplex in December 2013. Rochelle Sterling says that she allowed her husband to pay for the house, believing that her name would be on the deed along with his.
Donald Sterling also gave Stiviano $240,000 for living expenses, according to the lawsuit, amounting to $2 million of community property that he allegedly spent on Stiviano without his wife’s knowledge.
In a response to the lawsuit, Stiviano argues that Rochelle Sterling must have known that her husband of more than 50 years had romantic relationships outside of their marriage.
Stiviano’s court filing ridicules the notion that the “feminine wiles of Ms. Stiviano overpowered the iron will of Donald T. Sterling, who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.” Stiviano’s papers, however, do not acknowledge that she was in a romantic relationship with Sterling.
How public was Sterling’s friendship with Stiviano?
Stiviano’s attorney, Mac Nehoray, wrote in court papers that his client was “a veritable fixture” at Sterling’s business offices. A Clippers spokesman said Stiviano does not work for the team, though he said it is possible she is employed by one of Sterling’s other business ventures.
An advertisement for a 2011 charity luncheon lists Stiviano as a director of the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation, with Sterling as chairman.
How did the recordings emerge?
A photo that Stiviano posted on Instagram of herself with Lakers legend Magic Johnson was the main topic of the recorded conversation in which a man said to beasks a woman said to be Stiviano not to publicly associate with African Americans.
On the audio recording, the woman appears to spar with the man, saying that she herself is black and Mexican. At other times, she is conciliatory, apologizing and tenderly offering him a sip of juice.
The Clippers have not confirmed that Sterling is the voice on the tape and in a statement said the owner doesn’t hold the views expressed in the recording. Stiviano’s attorney said Sunday the tape is authentic but that his client did not release it to TMZ.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.