His circle, however, extends well beyond the celebutantes courted by his businesses.
Nazarian and his family, who like many Iranian Jews left Tehran during the 1979 revolution, are leaders of a powerful Persian Jewish elite in Beverly Hills.
A different all-American motto, however, has been fully embraced by the Nazarians and many other Persian families who have earned fortunes here: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
But perhaps the key asset was the then top-notch school system.
Sam Nazarian’s sister-in-law, former psychology professor Angella Nazarian, recalls that her father bought a house here in the early Seventies so her brother could attend Beverly Hills High School. S.,” she says over a lunch of tuna tartare in Westwood.
(A famous story recalls Bill Clinton’s visit to the Nazarian home for a fundraiser: He supposedly remarked, “This makes me realize I really do live in government housing.”)Today many younger members of the Persian community favor a less ornate style and in this—as well as in many more-important matters—they represent a generational pivot between the Persian Jewish community’s past in Tehran and its future in Los Angeles. A.-born and -bred interior designer whose husband, Bob, is the only Persian partner at white-shoe law firm Greenberg Glusker, is a prime example.
“Especially for women, the revolution was the best thing that could have happened,” says Natasha, who earned a master’s degree in international relations at Columbia University before choosing a more creative career path.
The present-day elite Persian community in Beverly Hills, though, really got its start in the early Seventies, when four brothers of the Mahboubi clan—who had grown rich at home from their virtual monopoly on chewing gum—moved to Los Angeles and sank their money into real estate on Rodeo Drive.
One of the brothers, Dar Mahboubi, backed haberdasher Bijan during the Eighties, and younger Mahboubis continue to manage the family’s considerable property holdings.Another group of brothers, the Yadegars, also arrived in Beverly Hills before the revolution and began snapping up real estate.Today so many Persians own stakes in Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle, the prime streets between Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards, that the area is known to some as “Tehrangeles.” (Another Persian shopping district in Westwood has also earned that moniker.)The area’s attractions were obvious: Beverly Hills was synonymous with wealth and status, plus it delivered a beautiful climate, safe residential neighborhoods and a well-established Jewish community.“We’re very, very close.”Not so many years ago, Nazarian, whose family arrived in the U. when he was three, was taunted at Beverly Hills High School with insults such as “camel jockey.” “It wasn’t a very welcoming group of people,” he recalls of his schoolmates.Nazarian’s courtly 78-year-old father, Younes, who today sits alongside his youngest son at a table laden with crystal bowls of dates, berries, cucumbers and other refreshments—a typical display of Persian hospitality—was a successful tool-and-dye manufacturer in Iran.The time has clearly come—as politicians, savvy businesspeople and charity fundraisers have realized—to meet the neighbors in Beverly Hills.