Last week’s announcement that publisher David Copley is looking for someone to buy the Union-Tribune marks the end of an era for San Diego, which has labored under the yoke of the Copley newspapers for 80 years. Until a buyer is confirmed, the destiny of the city remains in the balance, but some loyal U-T readers will no doubt miss the regular Copley sightings that appeared in the U-T. Year by year, the stories describe David Copley’s increasingly grandiose obsession with partying, car collecting, and mansion building. An excerpted history:

February 12, 1984: “David Copley drove up with Susan Farrell in a 1936 Cadillac convertible roadster that belonged to the late Jim Copley.”

November 3, 1985: “The luggage that came with David Copley’s sleek new Aston Martin sports car carries the Aston Martin nameplate. And he took the handsome luggage along on a recent visit to Springfield, Ill. The bellboy who brought the suitcases to Copley’s room in the posh new Ramada Renaissance greeted him with a respectful, ‘Your luggage, Mr. Martin.’ To which Copley countered, graciously: ‘You can call me Aston.’ ”

January 1, 1987: “David Copley wished friends ‘a peaceful, laid-back, stressless’ season on invitations to his holiday party at his home, ‘Foxhole,’ in La Jolla.… Sophisticated jazz players performed on a balcony overlooking the pool, and a totally high-tech mood was generated in the garage, which was transformed, with mirrored walls and other mod decor, into an inviting dance setting.”

December 19, 1988: “The holiday at home was a warming of David Copley’s new pied-a-surf, a glass fronted, cardinal lacquered, marble and steel, art-filled Mission Beach showplace that combines wide-open views with highly stylized privacy.… Guests traipsed up and down the curved glass stairwell, ogling everything and trading assessments — overwhelmingly positive.”

April 29, 1999: “Helen Copley and her son, David Copley, president and chief executive officer of The Copley Press, invited newspaper executives from around the country to an art deco dinner-dance that surpassed even the elaborate visions of Metropolis director Fritz Lang. The German filmmaker’s futuristic fantasy guided Nevin Kleege and his Advantech Event Management team in transforming a cavernous hangar into a dazzling party venue — a stunning study in black, white, chrome and gray. Gigantic sets copied from the film and built by the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio — the massive facade of a cathedral, a factory’s complex machinery — dominated an anteroom that opened into a vast, black-on-black nightclub raked by darting, swirling, dancing lights. (Jack Burnett, one of the production managers, said the party’s spectacular effects required ‘more lights than they had at the Grammy Awards.’).… Pierre Charmasson, another key member of the Kleege team, pointed out that it took more than a square acre of carpet to cover the hangar floor, and that many of the dinner guests were seated in 70 custom-built, tufted, semicircular booths upholstered in matte-black vinyl.”

December 7, 1999: “His mother’s La Jolla estate is called Foxhill. So when David Copley bought himself a small house 24 years ago, he named it — with a grin — Foxhole. He did a few things: added a second floor, then a pool pavilion, then a new wing, then a second wing as the lots next door became available. Friday, David invited more than 200 guests to experience what he has now made of Foxhole: a 17,000-square-foot mansion.”

July 15, 2007: “Happy Days, the 50-meter yacht David Copley has named for the boat that his grandfather, Col. Ira Copley, owned in 1927, was declared winner of the 17th annual ShowBoats International Award as the year’s Best Full-Displacement Motor Yacht of its size. Copley and a few of his friends were here for the presentation of the award at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club.”

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Comments

shizzyfinn July 30, 2008 @ 9:59 p.m.

So this dude is already overrun with yachts, exotic cars, estates, and look-how-rich-I-am parties, but he's still looking to add to the coffers by selling the UT? Ugh. Reminds me of a line from another money pig, good old C. Montgomery Burns: "I'd trade it all for a little more."

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Ponzi July 31, 2008 @ 12:17 p.m.

So would anyone want to trade places with him? Money doesn't buy happiness. Is this how you would want to be remembered?

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