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July 31st, 2013 ANDREA DAMEWOOD | News Stories
 

Puttin’ on the Schnitz

Oregon’s biggest arts patron steps out with an art lover of a different sort.

news1_3939(schnitz)BLACK-TIE AFFAIR: Arlene Schnitzer, Jordan Schnitzer and Sally Hopper at a social event in February 2012 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. - IMAGE: Drew Alitzer
The Schnitzers are the Rockefellers of the Beaver State, long noted for their power, wealth and generous patronage of the arts.

Just how much money the late Harold Schnitzer and his widow, Arlene, amassed isn’t known. But before Harold’s death in 2011, the couple gave more than $80 million to various charitable causes, among them the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Their only son, Jordan, has assumed the role of the most prominent figure in the state’s art world. The University of Oregon, after his multimillion-dollar gift, renamed its art museum for him in 2005.

Schnitzer’s personal collection includes works by important Northwest and contemporary artists, including Carl Morris, Jay Backstrand, Lucinda Parker and Fay Jones, says Martha Lee, owner of Portland’s Laura Russo Gallery. 

“He’s been extremely significant,” Lee says, “in terms of his collecting and his support for all the galleries and local artists.”

Schnitzer is divorced, but for the past 18 months, society cameras have captured him with a 46-year-old woman by the name of Sally Hopper, who lives in a $2 million Dunthorpe home he owns on the banks of the Willamette River.

Hopper is a rare find for any well-to-do bachelor: a petite auburn-haired beauty who posed in a 1990 Playboy lingerie issue, appeared as a contestant on The Millionaire Matchmaker and has also earned a master’s degree in business administration at Yale University.

But one of Hopper’s wealthy ex-boyfriends says she is something else, too: an art thief.

Glenn Schaeffer, former chief financial officer and president of the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel empire, says he and Hopper were together three years. When it ended, according to documents filed in a Los Angeles court, she took more than $680,000 in modernist paintings and sculptures and $70,000 in furnishings from the Marina Del Rey, Calif., condo they shared. 

“She looted my apartment,” Schaeffer tells WW.

When contacted by WW, Hopper said she wanted to discuss the allegations against her, but then never agreed to an interview. 

Jordan Schnitzer declined to comment for this story. Schnitzer, CEO of Harsch Investment Properties, his family’s real-estate empire, instead issued a statement through his company spokeswoman.

“I am a close friend of Sally Hopper and, as such, believe in her integrity,” he says. “I am aware of Mr. Schaeffer’s lawsuit and believe there’s no merit to it.”

Schaeffer, interviewed by telephone from his New Zealand winery, Woollaston Estates, says he’s never met Schnitzer but would urge him to “do a little vetting of [Hopper’s] background,” given that she has moved from one art collector to another.


PORTRAITS OF A LAWSUIT: No Holds Barred #64 by Tony Berlant (2006) and (below) a 2007 glass cube by Larry Bell are among the 20 pieces of art Sally Hopper’s ex-boyfriend, Glenn Schaeffer, alleges she stole.
Art Images Provided by Glenn Schaeffer

A video tour of the upscale Cove Marina Del Rey condominiums in Southern California shows sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, and glides down a red brick driveway, past manicured palm trees to the guarded entrance. 

The video calls the seaside units a “showcase for the things you treasure.” The units, the video assures viewers, are for the discriminating buyer only.

For Schaeffer—once named by Vanity Fair as one of the country’s top 50 art collectors—that meant the Cove was a place where he displayed his artwork, including a print by Richard Serra, whose work hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, and Karl Benjamin, one of the pioneering abstract classicists of midcentury Los Angeles.

It was also where he invited Hopper to live with him.

Schaeffer quickly fell for Hopper and her young daughter after they met in the fall of 2007, and by spring 2009, Hopper moved into the condo.

“She was fresh out of the Yale program at age 40, and she’s very good at presenting herself,” Schaeffer says.

Much about Hopper is a blank slate, but records show she has lived all over the West: Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. According to her LinkedIn page, in addition to her Yale diploma, she earned a biology and ecology degree from the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in toxicology. (Her thesis studied chemical exposure in pregnant rats.) 

It’s not clear whether Hopper has ever held a job. Her résumé doesn’t list one. (She once told an interviewer she was an entrepreneur, adding, “Nobody’s given me an official paycheck since I was 24 years old.”) 

Schaeffer says Hopper didn’t work, and he paid for her lifestyle, flying her to his properties in Miami and Las Vegas. Schaeffer and Hopper broke up in April 2011, two years after the casino he helped found and run, the Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas, a $2.9 billion, 3,815-room project, went bankrupt.

A lawsuit filed by Constellation Partners LLC, a corporation co-owned by Schaeffer, provides an account of what happened next.

Schaeffer gave Hopper a few months after the breakup—until June 24, 2011—to move out of the Cove Marina Del Rey. 

On June, 7, Hopper sued Schaeffer in Los Angeles County Superior Court for discontinuing his financial support. Nearly two weeks later, on June 20, Schaeffer’s suit alleges, Hopper cleaned the place out.

The suit claims Hopper took 20 pieces, including a $150,000 painting called Anooralya Yam by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, a $100,000 oil painting by Ralph Humphrey called Wentworth, and a $10,000 Serra etching. The suit says she also took a $7,000 Fendi dining table and chairs, an Eames chair worth $2,000, two cheetah ottomans worth $6,000 and two crocodile ottomans valued at $4,000.

“Hopper had no right to possession of ownership of the Marina Collection nor the Marina Furniture,” the suit reads, “but she wrongfully seized possession of the same with the ulterior purpose of coercing plaintiffs to abandon their rights to the property and/or ransom the property in order to extort a significant sum of money.”

Hopper has denied the allegations. In court filings, she says Schaeffer promised he would support her and her daughter for the rest of their lives. She says they enjoyed a “highly luxurious standard of living” that Schaeffer also promised to maintain.

Hopper’s filing also says she sacrificed her career and personal goals at Schaeffer’s request so she could be his “companion, homemaker, confidante, manage their respective homes, and act as a helpmate and partner.”

The artwork and furniture, she added, were gifts to Hopper as a display of Schaeffer’s “support and financial security obligations.”

Schaeffer says the art is in a storage unit until the case is settled. The suit is set for jury trial Nov. 4 in Santa Monica, Calif.


Sally Hopper was the first redhead that Patti Stanger, the millionaire matchmaker, allowed to appear on her Bravo Channel TV show of the same name. (She taped the show while still living in Schaeffer’s Marina Del Rey condo.)

ROOM WITH A VIEW: Hopper is living in this $2 million Willamette riverfront home owned by Jordan Schnitzer.
IMAGE: WW Staff
When Hopper appeared before Stanger’s panel of dating experts in a September 2011 episode, the group likened her to Rene Russo and said she was a perfect fit for their client Steve, a hypnotherapist purportedly worth $4 million.

Amid flashy graphics, quick camera cuts and a gaggle of women vying for Steve’s attention, Hopper lands a solo surf date with the eligible millionaire. At dinner, Hopper learns that Steve gave up custody of his two adopted children in a divorce. They fight and, according to an after-show update, never see each other again. 

Hopper’s ex-husband, Jimmy, says his ex-wife knows exactly how to attract men. 

Jimmy Hopper, a longtime Vegas singer once named “performer of the year” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, sports a Billy Idol-style bleached-blond spiked haircut and tight white pants in his online promo videos.

Hopper says his wife nominally ran his company, Jimmy Hopper Inc., while married to him for 13 years. He says their divorce cost him $600,000.

“If [Jordan Schnitzer] was an architect of high-end, multimillion-dollar homes, within a week she’d know everything about high-end homes,” Hopper tells WW. “She’s a freaking art expert now, she knows everything about art.”

Sally Hopper, he says, moved to Portland in early 2012 and was living in Schnitzer’s 10,000-square-foot Dunthorpe home soon after. Last year’s Riverdale School District directory lists the address for Schnitzer’s house under Hopper’s name.  

Jordan Schnitzer and Sally Hopper have been on each other’s arms ever since: at a February 2012 event at the de Young Museum in San Francisco to honor the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and at an October 2012 benefit for Portland State University, where they had their photo taken with Diane Keaton.

Schaeffer and Jimmy Hopper have since become close friends.

Schaeffer, for his part, sold most of his U.S. properties after his company went bankrupt and Sally Hopper left. He’s living full time in Nelson, New Zealand, a pastoral spot on the eastern edge of Tasman Bay, 128 miles west of Wellington.

He’s currently in a new relationship.

“There’s things in life you wouldn’t do over,” Schaeffer says, “once you learn the hard way.” 

 
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