Donald Sterling Net Worth, How Much Money Is Donald Sterling Worth?

Donald Sterling, an American business magnate and former attorney, boasts a net worth of $4 billion. Best known for his controversial ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers from 1981 to 2014, Sterling’s career spans law, real estate, and sports management. Despite his wealth and influence, Sterling’s legacy is marred by scandal and controversy.

What Were Donald Sterling’s Early Life and Education?

Donald Tokowitz, known professionally as Donald T. Sterling, was born on April 26, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, Susan and Mickey Tokowitz, were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. The family relocated to Los Angeles when Donald was two years old, settling in the Boyle Heights neighborhood. He attended Theodore Roosevelt High School, where he excelled as a gymnast and served as class president, graduating in 1952. Sterling pursued higher education at California State University, Los Angeles, and later attended Southwestern University School of Law, graduating in 1960. In 1959, Donald and his wife Shelly changed their surname to Sterling, seeking a name easier to pronounce and more financially beneficial.

How Did Sterling Transition from Law to Real Estate?

Sterling began his professional career in 1961 as a divorce and personal injury attorney. Facing limited opportunities at prestigious law firms due to his Jewish heritage, he built an independent practice. His foray into real estate began with the purchase of a 26-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills. Throughout the 1960s, Sterling continued to invest in property, including the acquisition of Lesser Towers in Westwood, which he renamed Sterling Towers, and the leasing of the California Bank Building, later named Sterling Plaza. By 2014, Sterling owned 162 properties in Los Angeles, with additional holdings in Orange County, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

How Did Sterling Acquire the LA Clippers?

In 1981, Sterling purchased the San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million at the suggestion of Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Sterling promised to invest heavily in the team, but the Clippers struggled in their early years under his ownership. Despite the challenges, Sterling remained committed, eventually moving the team to Los Angeles in 1984 without NBA approval, resulting in a $25 million fine that was later reduced to $6 million after Sterling sued the league.

What Impact Did Sterling Have on the Clippers?

Under Sterling’s ownership, the Clippers experienced fluctuating fortunes. The team faced criticism for poor performance and frugal management, being named the worst franchise in professional sports by ESPN The Magazine in 2009. However, the early 2010s saw a resurgence with the acquisition of star players like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Despite the team’s improvements, Sterling’s management style and public persona drew widespread criticism, with major publications labeling him as one of the worst owners in sports.

What Was the Nature of the Racist Controversy Involving Sterling?

In April 2014, Sterling faced severe backlash after recordings of him making racist remarks to his mistress, V. Stiviano, were leaked. The recordings triggered public outrage and condemnation from NBA players, coaches, and fans. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver swiftly banned Sterling from the league for life, fined him $2.5 million, and stripped him of nearly all authority over the Clippers. Silver also announced intentions to force Sterling to sell the team, citing violations of league rules.

How Was the Sale of the Clippers Negotiated?

Following the controversy, Shelly Sterling negotiated a deal in May 2014 to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. This sale marked the end of Donald Sterling’s 33-year tenure as the team’s owner, making Ballmer the new owner and effectively closing a tumultuous chapter in the franchise’s history.

What Were Sterling’s Contributions to Real Estate?

Beyond his involvement in the NBA, Sterling made significant contributions to the real estate industry. He built a vast portfolio of properties across Los Angeles and other cities, earning a reputation as a shrewd and ambitious businessman. Despite legal setbacks, such as a $17.3 million lawsuit ruling against him for a fire in a West Hollywood apartment building, Sterling’s real estate ventures solidified his financial standing.

What is Known About Sterling’s Personal Life?

Donald Sterling married Rochelle “Shelly” Stein in 1957, and they had three children together. The couple became estranged in 2012, and their eldest son, Scott, tragically died of an apparent drug overdose in 2013. Despite personal and professional challenges, Sterling’s impact on the real estate and sports industries remains significant.


Donald Sterling’s journey from a lawyer to a real estate mogul and NBA team owner is a story of ambition, controversy, and public scrutiny. His tenure as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was marked by both failures and successes, culminating in a scandal that led to his lifetime ban from the NBA. While his financial achievements are notable, Sterling’s legacy is inextricably linked to the controversies and legal battles that defined his career. As a figure of fascination and infamy, Donald Sterling’s life serves as a complex narrative of power, wealth, and the consequences of public actions.

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