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LA Warms Up to Frieze | OC’s Billion-Dollar Elephant? | Ray Chan/Raymond Chandler | Double-Check Huizar’s Homeless Deal | Best Banh Mi

LA Warms Up to Frieze | OC’s Billion-Dollar Elephant? | Ray Chan/Raymond Chandler | Double-Check Huizar’s Homeless Deal | Best Banh Mi

Have you heard about the upcoming art show Frieze Los Angeles? The buzz so far has been confined to reports on the art and artists–no doubt the stars of the LA edition of the festival, which aims to gain traction alongside sister shows in New York and London when it debuts with a February 14-17 run at Paramount Studios. The show is under the direction of Bettina Korek, founder of, who also counts key roles with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time and service on the Los Angeles County Arts Commission on her resume.

There is another set of stars–collectors–who will be crucial in deciding whether Frieze Los Angeles takes off. Collectors come with money, which generally points to the community of business as the place where art shows have to appeal–and recent signals from that corner of our world indicate that Frieze LA is coming along quite nicely. Take this observation from Marc Nathanson, who got a fortune in the cable TV business when the getting was good, selling Falcon Cable TV to Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen for $3.7 billion in 1999: “For a small art fair–only 70 booths–Bettina has created a lot of buzz,” Nathanson told SullivanSaysSoCal. “We are invited to over 15 separate parties and dinners. We are inundated with out-of-town collectors asking to come over and see our art collection. It is good for the LA art scene.”

Nathanson’s “we” refers to his wife and life-long art guide, Jane, a psychologist who majored in art history as an undergrad at the University of Denver, where the couple met, and serves on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among other civic duties. The couple has made various sorts of investments since then, showing what appears to be sharp eyes for both aesthetics and market conditions for art.

They paid less than $250,000 in 1988 for Ocean Park #20, one of Richard Diebenkorn’s oversized, Santa Monica-inspired abstract expressionist portraits of California light, catching a downbeat in the market.

Folks in OC might recall that Diebenkorn was the subject of an impressive exhibit mounted by the Orange County Museum of Art in 2012. That was a couple of years before the Nathansons sold Ocean Park #20 through Sotheby’s for $10,245,000–a gain of 4,205% overall, by a conservative estimate, not to mention a compounded annualized return of about 15%.

Here’s hoping Frieze does a fraction as well in LA.

A LA’Orange

What else to call the connection between the Los Angeles and Orange County markets? Anyone who sees an Orange Curtain along the county line fails to see some of the most dynamic interplay you’ll find on a regional basis anywhere in America. The folks at Frieze might want to look south for some potential collectors to court.

Masterson, Wall, Burkle

Start with Tiffany Masterson, founder of fast-growing Newport Beach-based beauty products brand Drunk Elephant LLC, which purportedly has a proposed offer of $1 billion from an unidentified buyer.

Then there are Marc Mills and David Mirsky, whose Irvine-based heavy-equipment leasing firm Pacific Rim Capital just sold a 49% stake to Japan-based Fuyo General Lease Co. No word on a price of the deal, but Pacific Rim Capital had $210 million in annual revenue as recently as 2017, according to the Orange County Business Journal. Here’s guessing cofounders Mirsky and Mills might have a few extra bucks to spend on art these days.

George Wall is Glaser Weil LLP’s man in OC, where he’s uniquely positioned to see which way wealth is flowing. The veteran M&A attorney recently penned his annual update, with a personal tally of 18 deals that combined to top the $1 billion mark in total values.

Wall says the atmosphere is growing more cautious on M&A as 2019 gets rolling, but he sees continued strength in the mid-market–an area that exemplifies the cross-pollination of the LA and OC markets.

The folks at Frieze should note that one of Wall’s clients sold a minority stake in a Major League Baseball franchise, the sort of investment that a collector might make.

Wall also keeps an office at Glaser Weil’s HQ in Century City, but it sounds as though he might have been on the OC side of a deal in representing a beverage company that recently created convertible debt for Beverly Hills-based billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. and other owners.

Milken 2.0

Another guy for Frieze to look up: Lance Milken, son of Michael Milken.

The younger Milken recently left his post as a senior partner at Apollo Global Management to set up a family office that will be based in Los Angeles.

Apollo was founded by members of the elder Milken’s extensive coaching tree, a group that has spread the American financial sector while their old boss – whose pioneering role as “Junk Bond King” made him a forerunner of today’s digital “disruptors” – has focused on philanthropy.

City of Hope Starts OC Expansion

Another LA-OC crossover continues at Duarte-based City of Hope, which last year announced plans for its first presence beyond its home base with a healthcare campus it has in the works on the Gateway Campus that’s in development in conjunction with Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine.

This week brings word that the world-renowned hospital is expanding its cancer network in OC, beginning with an office it recently purchased in Newport Beach, where it will provide treatment for breast and various other cancers, with “convenient access to subspecialists.”

The Newport Beach facility echoes earlier moves by City of Hope to join the trend of healthcare providers delivering services closer to patients, with the choice of Irvine for its first major expansion and the hire of Annette Walker–well known in both OC and LA healthcare circles–to head the newly formed City of Hope Orange County.

“Orange County patients will also benefit from City of Hope’s designation by the National Cancer Institute as one of just 49 comprehensive cancer centers in the country,” Walker said.

Those Other Oscars

Here’s an OC-NY crossover: Irvine-based Victury SportsOllyball, a finalist for 2019 Toy of the Year Awards from the Toy Association, a trade group that will hold its annual “Oscars of the Toy Industry” in New York on February 15. Ollyball inventor, Victury CEO and Disney and Goodwill marketing veteran Joe Burke hit upon the idea for a ball that could be used for indoor training when his kids were breaking stuff kicking regular balls around the house. The Ollyball weighs less than an ounce, absorbs shock through “patented KrunchCOR construction,” and is re-inflatable. Here’s a video that Burke provided to show how his family handles the Ollyball:

Ray Chan/Raymond Chandler

I initially wondered why Ray Chan took part in a meeting where top appointed staffers of Mayor Eric Garcetti told Fire Marshal John Vidovich he was being taken off duties as head of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

Vidovich got himself sideways with the firefighters union, and he has testified that he “found fire inspectors falsifying and destroying records.”

Chan was a deputy mayor for economic development at the time of the meeting, which would seem to make little sense unless troubles at the Fire Prevention Bureau were tied the city’s Department of Building & Safety. Chan spent 29 years at the Department of Building & Safety and rose to the post of general manager before becoming deputy mayor for economic development, where his duties included oversight of his old department.

Chan is no longer with the mayor’s office, but he was nonetheless cited as a target in a warrant served by federal investigators as part of an investigation into the unfolding City Hall scandal. Lay the feds’ investigation over the L.A. Times’ recent report on Vidovich, and another question comes to mind: How is a career engineer with the Department of Building & Safety qualified to oversee the mayor’s economic development planning and strategy?

And why would the Department of Building & Safety be in his portfolio?

There is a deputy mayor for public safety, after all.

A little poking around indicates that it might have been Chan’s side jobs that made him seem qualified for economic development duty. Chan was still serving as deputy mayor in May of 2017 when the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects featured him as guest of honor for its “City Leaders Breakfast Series” reception. The architects group also billed Chan as a “licensed Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer, Building Contractor and Real Estate Broker.”

That sure lends some irony to the fact that Ray Chan is just two syllables away from Raymond Chandler, the prototypical LA mystery author.

Marijuana Part of Huizar’s Homeless Plan?

A little walking around points to an apparent marijuana shop across the street from a proposed homeless shelter that would offer services for drug and alcohol addiction as the latest mystery to spring from the offices of 14th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.

The veteran pol was the main target when an investigation by the FBI and IRS became public in November with a raid on his office in City Hall, a field office, and his home, among other locations. Huizar has remained silent about the feds and the laundry list of other matters, including his recent call for the city to lease a portion of a building at 1426 Paloma Street in the southeastern section of Downtown for conversion to a site for 115 emergency shelter beds for the homeless.

The project would be undertaken as a city-county partnership, and lease around 36,000 square feet, according to city documents, with a reported monthly rent payment of $37,000. The plan, according to Huizar’s office, would include a “dedicated case worker” who would help residents of the shelter “with connecting with services, such as job training, addiction programs, therapy, as well as transitioning into supportive housing.”

No response on calls to Huizar’s office, leaving the questions of whether the marijuana business–which sports a green cross but no name and no street address on its front–would remain next to the homeless shelter.

NYT at Home in LA

Forget any perceptions of political bias or talk of a liberal lean and give the New York Times credit for finding ways to fit in quite nicely here in Los Angeles.

That’s no easy feat for an out-of-town newspaper no matter its reach and reputation. Yet the publication’s California Today digital newsletter is free and well-crafted with local insight, and it doesn’t seem odd at all to see NYT staffers billed for panels and other events around LA.

The intellectually energetic Zocalo Public Square drew a crowd to Little Tokyo on January 30, when NYT editorial board member Carol Giacomo moderated a panel made up of Kal Raustiala from UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations; Karen Attiah, global opinions editor for the Washington Post; and UCLA political scientist Richard D. Anderson. The group took up the question of whether “America is enabling autocrats to run the world.”

Next up are NYT Op-Ed contributors Roxane Gay, Lindy West and Guy Branum, who are due to take the stage at the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway on February 12 to talk with Sunday Review Editor Rachel Dry for a panel titled “Love. Life. Jokes. Politics. Advice.”

Sullivan Says

LA’s best bánh mì sandwich joint is on the south side of Ord Street just east of Broadway in Chinatown–the name on the awning is My Dung, but I call it Ching’s, after the cheerful proprietor.

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