Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Another Big Party at Bellosguardo title=
In 2014, former Santa Barbara mayor Helene Schneider appointed her then-political consultant and boyfriend Jeremy Lindaman to run the Bellosguardo Foundation and open the property to the public. Despite collecting a six-figure salary and reportedly living at the estate since then, Lindaman has made little progress in carrying out the foundation’s mission. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

There I was, plopped on East Beach and watching the birds ― wondering how pelicans choose who among them leads their “V” formations ― when I heard engines rumble behind me.

Looking back and up at Bellosguardo ― Santa Barbara’s most nakedly corrupt institution ― I saw a line of party rental trucks snake their way from a large white tent on the south lawn to the iron gates below. It was the morning after yet another private event at the property, which is supposed to be operating as a public center for the arts but instead serves as a $85 million man-cave for an ex-mayor’s boyfriend, his buddies, and the rich and famous.

I tried to refocus my attention on the sparkling ocean in front of me, but my blood was already starting to simmer. I jumped in the water to cool off. It helped, but only a little. The umbrage train had already left the station.

As I swam toward the buoys, I remembered how this spring, the Bellosguardo Foundation had submitted an application to the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Division to finally start offering guided tours of the 23-acre estate. After forming seven long years ago, it was the organization’s first noticeable step toward carrying out the late Huguette Clark’s will.

But the application ― which also sought conditional-use to host special events ― was deemed an incomplete mess, and the Planning Division sent it back to the Foundation for another crack. The nonprofit hadn’t resubmitted any paperwork, yet here they were, throwing another big party. I kept swimming.

I thought back to the beginnings of this great Bellosguardo Boondoggle, back to 2014, when our mayor at the time, Helene Schneider, appointed her then-lover, Jeremy Lindaman, to lead the organization, despite his shocking lack of qualifications. Lindaman had previously worked as a political consultant and before that for his family’s print shop. He’s since been paid a six-figure salary to run a nonprofit with millions in assets ― doing what, exactly, is hard to say, though he’s rumored to live there full-time. Maybe he mows the lawn.

Save for that half-baked application, Lindaman and the Foundation have never publicly stated what their plans are for turning the aged mansion into a modern arts center. They’ve promised press conferences that never happened. They’ve dangled potential partnerships with other arts organizations that never materialized. They’ve auctioned off Clark’s doll collection with no transparency of where the money went.

They’ve blamed fires, the debris flow, and COVID for stalling public access, yet they have managed to host a Great Gatsby–themed gala, extravagant weddings, and private tours for those willing to cough up thousands of dollars. They’ve fired all the staff, except for a handful of gardeners, and kicked the longtime caretaker to the curb.

Finally, my muscles aching, I turned back toward shore. And I realized, with a sort of sadness, that we can’t be surprised that this slow-moving debacle is taking place. That’s because no one is really watching.

Dick Wolf of Law & Order fame is the Foundation’s chair, but he’s completely absentee, which apparently is his MO when serving on Santa Barbara boards. The last time he talked about the Bellosguardo in any public way was November 2018, when he said, cocktail in hand, that a major announcement was only “six months in the future.”

Remarkably, the Bellosguardo board itself never meets (in violation of its own bylaws) to discuss its plans or its finances. And I can’t see our current mayor ― or any members of the City Council ― raising the issue. That just leaves the New York Attorney General’s Office (the Foundation is registered back East), and they haven’t shown any interest in the matter.

So without any real accountability, it’s no wonder a former political operative ― who wound up sinking Schneider’s promising career with bad advice and even worse behavior ― has turned Clark’s summer home into his personal party house. And so far, no one with the legal, political, or high-society clout has been willing to take the lead on making sure Clark’s will is actually carried out.

A few weeks later, I found out that the Bellosguardo bash I saw had been a wedding party for one of Arianna and Michael Huffington’s daughters. While Michael Huffington has sailed off into the silence of his personal sunset long time ago, Arianna has emerged as a one-name wonder, like Cher and Madonna, a celebrity now famous for having once been famous.

Back in the early 1990s, the Huffingtons were winning the hearts and minds of Santa Barbara’s hoi polloi by writing $10,000 checks to all the nonprofits on whose boards they served. By this nakedly transactional method, Michael — then a restless oil man and real estate developer from Texas — bought himself the congressional seat that included Santa Barbara. Quickly bored, he ran, two years later, against Dianne Feinstein, for her Senate seat.

At that time, hoping to inflate his right-wing street cred, Huffington — a decent guy when he thought no one was looking — endorsed Prop. 187, a statewide initiative that would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving social services. It soon came to light that the Huffingtons had themselves hired an undocumented nanny. This left his campaign in shambles, Feinstein won, and Arianna transformed herself into a high-glam left-wing salonista, prompting Lou Cannon — Summerland resident and a national political commentator of great renown — to mutter, “Once upon a time, the left had some standards.”

Recently, I heard that Jeff Bezos, the Amazon Man, would be renting Bellosguardo soon. Oh well, next time I’m on East Beach, I’ll remember to ask the pelicans how they pick their leader. Maybe they’ll have some advice. But the weather is getting a little chilly for another ocean swim.


This edition of The News Letter, originally emailed to subscribers on September 27, was updated on October 20, 2021. To receive The News Letter in your inbox, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.

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Byzantium Oct 23, 2021 02:58 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

How is treating this multi-bedroom residence as a static museum "promoting the arts"? It is a home, and can certainly be used for residential purposes for those engaged in the arts. No greater promotion of the arts than supporting the training of the next generation of talented performers.

justabrain Oct 22, 2021 10:12 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Tyler Hayden has a habit mixing journalism with outlandish speculations, extrapolations and innuendo. Peter Lance, another award winning journalist knocked him down a notch pretty well years ago. But obviously Tyler is attracted to anything juicy and sensational (in his narrative).

Mesarats Oct 22, 2021 10:59 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Hellene’s political MO was always kissing up to Montecito power and money, including the years long delay in the in the highway improvements, while she was on the SBACG. They were scheduled to be phase I, now the last. Perhaps had they not spent millions to delay, the 500 year flood improvements including the up stream storm channels feeders as planed, less lives would have been lost in the debris flow

a-1634972023 Oct 22, 2021 11:53 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

This is so wrong on so many fronts. The 101 would have done NOTHING to stop people losing their lives at East Valley Rd, quite some distance north of the freeway.

Luvaduck Oct 23, 2021 09:23 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

So is this Lindsman character a bona fide gigolo or just a pretender? If he's the real thing, who's currently paying for the necessaries: You know, expensive jewelry, elite work-out club, bespoke clothes. fancy car and so forth. If it's a politician, should they get a salary raise to afford him or be fired? If it's someone in the under-serviced trophy wife circuit, shouldn't their husbands kick in for the assistance??

Mas Gaviota Oct 23, 2021 09:34 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Another pathetic attempt at character assassination. He is an employee of the foundation. Some folk around here have vivid imaginations.

MarcelK Oct 23, 2021 02:39 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

He's a private citizen working for a private organization. Who is going to pay your lawyer fees when you are sued for libel?

Mas Gaviota Oct 23, 2021 09:27 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

The level of ignorance of the facts here is astounding. The Bellosguardo Foundation is incorporated in New York and has a board of directors that makes all of its decisions. Lindeman is simply their employee. They can pay him whatever they want. The City / people of Santa Barbara have zero legal authority as to decisions made by the board of directors, except for zoning and land use that is allowed by municipal code. Bellosguardo is privately owned and the foundation can do what ever it wants unless it is a violation of the code. For example, they could decide to sell the property and use the proceeds to fund arts in the community. Tyler wants to be the new Angry Poodle by stirring up controversy when there is none. Let's call him the Angry Chihuahua.

justabrain Oct 23, 2021 11:17 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Tyler Hayden obviously got an eye and trigger on Huffington for years. When journalism is filtered through bias, obvious sarcasm, wanton accusations ... it isn't far from BS shouted from a megaphone.
http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=9857

sbsunshine Oct 23, 2021 12:30 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Great information. It would be very helpful for the public to be educated on how the foundation works, who the board members are, how the decision making is handled. Who fired the legacy staff and who is authorizing the property to be used as a wedding destination. If the foundation was more transparent and educated the public and shared into there would be less speculation. But honestly, there is this sense that they don't want to do that because on some level they may enjoy seeing the public spin its wheels and make fools out of themselves (in their eyes perhaps). Maybe you can help engender this kind of communication with the community.

Babycakes Oct 23, 2021 10:16 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Mas Gaviota: All of what you said is going to change. The People are going to win this time, and there's nothing you or the lawyers can do about it. Google is not the only resource on the planet!

Mas Gaviota Oct 23, 2021 10:21 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Sorry BC, this is the USA. Private property trumps the people most all the time. Keep on living in your fantasy world.

Babycakes Oct 23, 2021 11:02 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

MG: Try as you might, you cannot silence the truth. Yes, this is the USA, but certainly not the once proud nation it once was (to most folks). No doubt that Hughette would be disgusted at what is happening. The good thing is that is short order, the property will be for everyone, not just the folks admired by some: the elites, the wealthy, and those that the rules don't apply to. Maybe I'm just jealous because I'm none of those, except I'm quite prepared to fight the good fight.

ZBHotep Oct 23, 2021 03:21 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

A private organization whose president was appointed by our former mayor during the Foundation's corrupt inception. I've already reported the organization, Helene Schneider, and Jeremy Lindaman to the attorney general- as have many others.

Mas Gaviota Oct 23, 2021 03:52 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Do some basic research before posting (multiple times) per the terms of Ms. Clark's will / probate the mayor of Santa Barbara nominated a majority of the board members for the foundation those board members hired Lindaman as the president. This was all cleared by the New York courts and the attorney general. How has your "report" to the attorney general been received? I bet they still laugh about it at happy hour.

a-1635031829 Oct 23, 2021 04:30 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Sorry Babycakes,
Ain’t gonna happen, unless some other foolhardy 501(c)3 can get their shit together to realize Hughette’s vision.
Did she have “visions” beyond her wealth and privilege?
I was beside Sergei when he purchased the Val Verde Estate.
Broke my heart, but this is where Bellosguardo is headed.

toot Oct 23, 2021 10:42 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

That "kicked the longtime caretaker to the curb" was no better than Jeremy Lindaman. He got that job thru nepotism and milked it for every penny he could. For some three decades, he boasted to everyone within earshot that he never paid a dime for rent. Sorry, no sympathy for him.

Byzantium Oct 23, 2021 03:03 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Giuseppe Verdi left an important legacy in support the the arts - a retirement home for opera singers in Milan Italy known as Casa Verdi. It continues today. Another possible use of the Bellosguardo residential property in promotion of the arts- an artists retirement home.

Byzantium Oct 23, 2021 03:30 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Much local misunderstanding arose when an estate court settlement granted the then current mayor Helene Schneider the power to nominate various trustees of this private foundation. She Schneider was an "elected representative" of the people of Santa Barbara to even be in this position, I can see why many felt they had a say in its future. However, this was a one time grant of authority only to get the foundation started and Ms Schneider's role was accepted by all litigation parties in the final estate settlement. .................."DATE: 10/23/2014
For immediate release (to press)
Contact: Mayor Helene Schneider

Bellosguardo Foundation Board of Directors Formed

After a little over one year of working with the New York Public Administrator’s office and the N.Y. Attorney General’s Charitable Division Bureau, the process of creating a new Bellosguardo Foundation under the late Huguette Clark’s settlement agreement has been completed. As per the settlement agreement, the Foundation Board of Directors consists of three named individuals and seven others nominated by Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. As part of the process, the Mayor, Public Administrator and the Board agreed that the Foundation would best be served by seating a total of 19 individuals to the initial Board of Directors.

The Founding members of the Bellosguardo Board of Directors are:

Members:

-- Stephen Clark: Vice President & General Counsel J Paul Getty Trust
-- Joshua Conviser: Author/Film Producer
-- Robert Day: Chairman, Keck Foundation; Chairman, Trust Company of the West
-- Ian Devine: Clark Family Representative
-- Perri Harcourt: Investor/Community Philanthropist
-- Jim Hurley: Retired Attorney for the late Huguette Clark
-- Peter Jordano: President/CEO Jordano’s Inc.
-- Morris Jurkowitz: Investor/Community Philanthropist
-- Robert Lieff: Of Counsel/Founder, Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, LLP
-- Diane McQuarie: Co-Founder MapFrame [Ret.]
-- Sandi Nicholson: Community Philanthropist
-- Jack Overall: Dantz Development Corporation [Ret.]/Community Philanthropist
-- Charles Patrizia: Corcoran Gallery Representative
-- Jim Petrovich: Investor/Community Philanthropist
-- Ron Pulice: Former Chair/CEO, Pulice Construction/Community Philanthropist
-- Joan Rutkowski: Retired Opera singer/Community Philanthropist
-- Gary Tobey: President, Haworth Marketing & Media Company
-- Anne Smith Towbes: Community Philanthropist
-- Dick Wolf: Film and Television Producer

This Foundation will oversee Mrs. Clark’s Santa Barbara Bellosguardo property once probate is completed in New York State. At that time, this Foundation will also take possession of Bellosguardo’s furnishings and artwork, and Mrs. Clark’s extensive doll collection. ............."

Byzantium Oct 23, 2021 08:12 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

NB: This was the original list selected in 2014 - many are no longer associated with this current foundation.

justabrain Oct 23, 2021 03:44 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

A proletariat takeover? Tyler drew a tear jerking visual image as if he were homeless watching rich people party and the poor die at the doorstep. He knows well who to be cozy with and make a living out of being this "fighter for injustice". Your selective reporting, "justice", and screwed balance only paints a dark future once you had the faintest chance of an eventual takeover.

OGSB Oct 23, 2021 04:50 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

I agree that there appears to be some BS going on up there. Kinda sad that such a good thing has come to this. Take note and be specific in your own wills! It's also pretty amusing that some Ed Hatters here, who are normally left, are on the side of personal property rights and freedoms all of a sudden... Talk about fishy.

justabrain Oct 23, 2021 05:02 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Lets say this: Tyler Hayden will be forever stuck in this town (not necessarily bad thing) because of his perpetual skewed perspective, tunnel vision and style of reporting as if he cares little else except he's right on the spot but in fact he has been way off the facts on many occasions. In this particular piece, he has one single fact to get it all started, dragging Huffington along (because he had other problems with it for years that apparently hurt the man deeply): he saw a big party and he was not invited!

Stray Oct 23, 2021 09:17 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

“Bellosguardo will become a new home for art, music, history and culture.” How does one justify the current slate of weddings, parties and other private events against that statement? I guess weddings have music, wedding cakes have art, private parties have booze and guests talk about “history” and “culture”. So yeah, those activities fit the Foundation mission statement (sarcasm intended). With regards to Santa Barbara public access, how is the current state of affairs at Bellosguardo differ from what it was like when Huguette Clark was still the owner? Ten years have come and gone, but to the common Santa Barbara citizen, not much has really changed by Mrs. Clark’s death, will, and transfer of ownership to the Foundation. I guess one can say a Santa Barbara mayor with a short political career came and went, a non-profit is now paying the property taxes, and an opportunist is living the high life in a Santa Barbara coastal castle.

Byzantium Oct 24, 2021 01:53 PM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

When will the Coastal Commission require public access through Clark Estate private properties to reach the beach? Not unlike Hollister Ranch private property is also facing. How far apart do public access pathways need to exist to qualify as "public access" routes? From the Cabrillo Center to Butterfly Beach - how many public beach accesses exist?

PitMix Oct 25, 2021 07:46 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Yeah, I want to traverse through the estate and rappell down the cliff to get to the water, rather than park at the volleyball courts and walk to the beach. I'm outraged.

PitMix Oct 25, 2021 07:48 AM
Another Big Party at Bellosguardo

Regulation of nonprofits by the State Attorney General's office is a joke. Has anyone ever heard of them doing anything relative to any nonprofit? Or maybe all nonprofits are in compliance with all laws and all regulations? Yeah, that's the ticket....

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