Updated at 3:50 p.m., March 27, 2015
Donald Sterling’s former confidante broke down in tears as she testified about what she considered a special relationship between her and the former Clippers owner before things soured in late 2013.
Donald Sterling’s former confidante fought back tears today as she testified about what she considered a special relationship between her and the former Clippers owner before things soured in late 2013.
“He became my everything and I became his all,” V. Stiviano said under questioning by her lawyer, Mac Nehoray. “It was like love at first sight.”
However, Stiviano said the relationship was strictly platonic and based on what she called “a strong bond” that existed between the two.
“I was like his best friend and he was my mentor,” she said of the 80- year-old billionaire.
Stiviano, 32, said the two of them shared a common past, including growing up in the same neighborhood and attending the same high school, albeit decades apart.
Sterling’s wife of 60 years sued Stiviano for the value of cash, cars and a home the plaintiff alleges the woman wrongfully obtained from the real estate mogul that belonged to the couple as community property.
Stiviano testified that she spent every day with Sterling for 2 1/2 years and that he took her to Las Vegas, Dubai and many other foreign locales. She said she met him during the Super Bowl in 2011 and that she began doing work for his family foundation. Her duties grew over time and she often drove him to various business meetings during days that lasted from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., she said.
Stiviano said Sterling promised her she would help her financially, including providing support of two foster children she took in last year.
“I will help you take care of your family and your boys,” she quoted Sterling as telling her.
Stiviano testified she at first got along well with Sterling’s wife Shelly, who she said was curious about her work with the plaintiff’s husband. Stiviano said Shelly Sterling told her to make sure to keep confidential what she knew about Donald Sterling’s “gay life.”
Stiviano said tensions soon grew between her and Shelly Sterling, who once criticized her for buying a red car because the color seemed too flashy, Stiviano said. Stiviano said she chose a red car because that was the Clippers’ color.
Stiviano said she attended important league meetings with Donald Sterling and was regularly seen with him in public, including courtside at Clippers games.
She said she became aware of a dark side of Donald Sterling in which he “cons people out of things, his trickery.”
Stiviano said things soured with the former NBA team owner in late 2013 when he asked her twice to sign papers promising to keep confidential what she had learned while working with him. She said she refused each time.
During his final argument to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin this afternoon, Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, lowered from $3.6 million to $2.8 million his estimate of the value of property, cars and cash that he said Stiviano should be forced to return to the real estate mogul’s wife.
He said the lower amount is what he believes he has proved Stiviano obtained from Donald Sterling during their 2 1/2-year relationship.
Fruin, who heard the non-jury trial, had criticized O’Donnell’s documentation of the money trail in the case as unclear.
O’Donnell said that despite Stiviano’s testimony to the contrary, she was never Donald Sterling’s employee, but instead was “earnestly trying to marry him.”
He said Stiviano’s own words on one of the 500 recordings she says she made of conversations between her and Donald Sterling also undermined her claim that about 30 family members donated money along with the former NBA franchise owner to buy her a home.
“Everything I have is everything you’ve given me,” Stiviano said on the tape.
But Nehoray said the home never belonged to Donald Sterling and therefore is not community property co-owned by his wife.
“From its inception, it was (in the name of) V. Stiviano,” Nehoray said. The judge took the case under submission and did not say when he would rule.
Stiviano’s often intense cross-examination by O’Donnell ended on a friendly note when she paid him a compliment.
“Thank you, Mr. O’Donnell, I like your tie,” she said.
O’Donnell replied he was wearing the green tie because he is Irish.
—City News Service