The Sixties and Seventies saw a full-tilt economic expansion, fueled by the Shah’s dream of westernization and financed by vast oil reserves.“The real-estate boom was incredible,” explains Gabbay, who founded an architecture firm with his brother in Tehran.
“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.
But in fleeing his country’s political turmoil, he had to leave most of his assets behind, arriving at a run-down hotel in Santa Monica with, as Younes recalls, “four suitcases and four children.” (The Nazarians are now part owners of the hotel.)Younes and his brother, Parviz, relied on contacts with other Persian Jewish immigrants—“Our best asset in this country was our few friends,” he notes—and established a factory building machine parts for such clients as the Department of Defense.
Several years later, the brothers were brought into a fledgling telecom company, Qualcomm, and their millions ballooned into billions.
From left: Alex Halimi, Amanda Maddahi, Adam Daneshgar, Lillian Emrani, Sabrina Yadegar, Jessica Yadegar, Gabriel Halimi, Jessica Kimiabakhsh, Sharon Newman, Lauren Maddahi and Soshi Azadian at Sam Nazarian’s SLS Hotel.