Chabad group and widow dispute $18 million pledge

In what sounds like one of the uglier philanthropy story lines, a charity and the widow of a philanthropist in Beverly Hills are now in court haggling over whether the deceased’s estate owes the charity money.

Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, the president of Chabad of California Inc., is suing the widow of billionaire Roland Arnall, claiming that Arnall’s estate owes him nearly $18 million because of a verbal pledge Cunin claims Arnall made to him to build a building in Arnall’s name.

Dawn Arnall is claiming that her husband made no such pledge, according to The Beverly Hills Courier.

However, according to Dawn Arnall, her husband never mentioned making such a pledge among the many they made as a couple to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. 

She said their largest single contribution was a $10 million to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which her husband co-founded.

Dawn Arnall said the alleged $18 million promise to Chabad made no sense because it was far more than their largest single pledge.

Dawn Arnall also said her husband was accustomed to getting financial requests from Cunin.

"He said that every time he met with Rabbi Cunin he asked him for money," she testified.

She said the donations she and her husband made followed Jewish tradition and were usually made in denominations of 18.

Roland Arnall made his fortune by helping to create Orange County-based Ameriquest Mortgage in 1979 and later became embroiled in problems associated with the subprime market.

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