Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Widow Testifies Billionaire Husband Shunned Credit for Large Donations
The widow of the billionaire philanthropist Roland Arnall testified today that her husband did not seek special honors for the millions of dollars in charitable donations he made during their marriage, including having buildings named after him.
"He said he didn't want any name recognition," Dawn Arnall told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy. "He said that wasn't the point of making contributions."
The non-jury trial before Murphy has pitted the testimony of Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, president of Chabad of California Inc., against the wealthy widow, who served as a co-chair of the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Chabad provides educational and social services under Jewish auspices.
Cunin previously testified Roland Arnall made verbal promises to him in 2004 and 2008 to donate at least $18 million to Chabad for the building of what was to be called the Arnall Family Center or the Arnall Family Hall.
However, according to Dawn Arnall, her husband never mentioned making such a pledge among the many they made as a couple to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.
She said their largest single contribution was a $10 million to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which her husband co-founded.
Dawn Arnall said the alleged $18 million promise to Chabad made no sense because it was far more than their largest single pledge.
Dawn Arnall also said her husband was accustomed to getting financial requests from Cunin.
"He said that every time he met with Rabbi Cunin he asked him for money," she testified.
She said the donations she and her husband made followed Jewish tradition and were usually made in denominations of 18.
Roland Arnall made his fortune by helping to create Orange County-based Ameriquest Mortgage in 1979 and later became embroiled in problems associated with the subprime market.
Roland Arnall was ambassador to the Netherlands under President George W. Bush from March 2006 to March 2008, leaving the post to take care of his son Daniel Arnall, who was diagnosed with cancer, Dawn Arnall said.
However, the billionaire himself died two years ago of cancer at age 68.
Westwood-based Chabad is seeking $17.5 million, which the organization claims is the balance due on the $18 million pledge after three payments of $180,000 were previously made by Roland Arnall.