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Had his hand in: Padres, Westgate Hotel, Westgate Tuna, Yellow Cab, Kona Kai, Fashion Valley

C. Arnholt Smith was the ultimate Mr. San Diego

C. Arnholt Smith today at his home in Rancho Santa Fe - Image by Dave Allen
C. Arnholt Smith today at his home in Rancho Santa Fe

When Dick Nixon Came to Town

San Diego entrepreneur Arnholt Smith, one of Nixon’s earliest supporters, remembered a melancholy evening in the early ’60s when Nixon was holding a meeting and asked him to get Pat out of the way. “Pat was not feeling well physically, and even worse...mentally,” Smith said. “Dick sent word, ‘Could I please take her and hide her from the public, so to speak, let her rest her mind and what have you.’”

By Matt Potter, Sept. 21, 2000 | Read full article

Gadfly Abraham Briloff (left) helped expose infamous San Diego accounting scandals such as C. Arnholt Smith’s (right) U.S. National Bank debacle.

How They Played the Accounting Game

Half a century ago, C. Arnholt Smith was “Mr. San Diego.” Smith and his close colleagues, along with relatives, owned and controlled a slew of assets that would be traded back and forth at inflated prices. The bank would do the financing. The Securities and Exchange Commission pointed out that these deals were put together to hoodwink auditors into believing the transactions were at arm’s length — when in fact they were dubious deals among friends and relatives.

By Don Bauder, Nov. 9, 2011 | Read full article

In Miller Obit, U-T Misses Historic Sleaze Story

[C. Arnholt] Smith was very close to Richard Nixon. When Nixon won the presidency, he replaced Miller with one of Smith's cronies. Miller later ran for D.A. and defeated another Smith crony. Federal prosecutors sent John and Angelo Alessio to prison, but were not able to put Smith away, despite his obvious financial crimes. As D.A., Miller took the case and was able to get Smith on tax evasion. He finally got eight months.

By Don Bauder, Mar 4, 2013 | Read full article

Lois and C. Arnholt Smith (far right) at Kona Kai Club, c.1960. I met my first wife Lois in about 1917. We were in the group that used to go to dances and boating parties.

Mr. San Diego: Born with the Century

And Solar Aircraft — there’s another institution that we made. And that damn Herb Kunzel. He was president of Solar at the end, and he would eventually be appointed to liquidate West-gate California when it was declared insolvent. But National Steel lugged that Solar Aircraft Company along by supplying them with things they couldn’t pay for. And I think the animosity between Kunzel and me came because we were pushing him to try to collect the debts.

By C. Arnholt Smith, March 19, 1992 | Read full article

President Dwight Eisenhower (left), Mamie Eisenhower (center), Smith (right), c. 1959. We were giving him a breakfast at the Cuyamaca Club. I was sitting next to him, and we were talking about San Diego, and he said, “Is the El Cortez Hotel the best hotel you’ve got in San Diego?”

The decline of a western tycoon

About a year after my son died, around 1967, my divorce from Lois was finalized. I think the divorce came about when I began to realize I was kind of a lone soldier in our relationship, so to speak. We had really drifted farther and farther apart. And through politics, I had gotten acquainted with Helen Alvarez. I liked the company of Helen and the activities she was involved in. And it was one of those things, it happened.

By C. Arnholt Smith, March 26, 1992 | Read full article

Joe Brennan, c. 1920. He conned the Navy into doing the dredging, and they had to have some place to dump the spoil, so they started filling in that area where the airport is and created a solid land mass. The Marine base and the Navy base is all fill too.

The Let’s-Get-It-Done Harbormaster

Joe conned the Navy into doing the dredging, and they had to have some place to dump the spoil, so they started filling in that area where the airport is and created a solid land mass. The Marine base and the Navy base is all fill too.

It was very marshy. Before that was filled in, there were times when you couldn’t go to Pt. Loma from San Diego. The water was too high for cars to go through there.

By C. Arnholt Smith, May 7, 1992 | Read full article

Opening day at San Luis Rey Downs, June 29, 1969. We had about 22 of our own racehorses at San Luis Rey. Helen, my wife, owned a lot of thoroughbreds. They only did so-so. Mostly just so.

Track Marks

I had a home there on the beach at the foot of 27th Street. On race dates and after race dates on Sundays, they’d all kind of gather, sometimes at our house, sometimes at others’. Jimmy Durante, Pat O’Brien, Bob Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Willy Shoemaker, a couple of songwriters, and many others. They’d start someplace, then all come on over and have drinks and beer and snacks — a traveling party all summer long.

By C. Arnholt Smith, July, 23 1992 | Read full article

What They Didn’t Tell You about Mr. San Diego

Hahn subsequently approached Smith with the idea of building a shopping center in San Diego — this time as a full partner rather than just a lender. The result was the Fashion Valley Shopping Center, a joint venture between Ernest W. Hahn Inc. and Smith’s Westgate-California Realty Company. The center cost $50 million to build and opened in October 1969 on 78 acres of land in Mission Valley, on the former site of Smith’s Valley Lane Farms.

By Thomas K. Arnold, Jan. 7, 1993 | Read full article

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C. Arnholt Smith today at his home in Rancho Santa Fe - Image by Dave Allen
C. Arnholt Smith today at his home in Rancho Santa Fe

When Dick Nixon Came to Town

San Diego entrepreneur Arnholt Smith, one of Nixon’s earliest supporters, remembered a melancholy evening in the early ’60s when Nixon was holding a meeting and asked him to get Pat out of the way. “Pat was not feeling well physically, and even worse...mentally,” Smith said. “Dick sent word, ‘Could I please take her and hide her from the public, so to speak, let her rest her mind and what have you.’”

By Matt Potter, Sept. 21, 2000 | Read full article

Gadfly Abraham Briloff (left) helped expose infamous San Diego accounting scandals such as C. Arnholt Smith’s (right) U.S. National Bank debacle.

How They Played the Accounting Game

Half a century ago, C. Arnholt Smith was “Mr. San Diego.” Smith and his close colleagues, along with relatives, owned and controlled a slew of assets that would be traded back and forth at inflated prices. The bank would do the financing. The Securities and Exchange Commission pointed out that these deals were put together to hoodwink auditors into believing the transactions were at arm’s length — when in fact they were dubious deals among friends and relatives.

By Don Bauder, Nov. 9, 2011 | Read full article

In Miller Obit, U-T Misses Historic Sleaze Story

[C. Arnholt] Smith was very close to Richard Nixon. When Nixon won the presidency, he replaced Miller with one of Smith's cronies. Miller later ran for D.A. and defeated another Smith crony. Federal prosecutors sent John and Angelo Alessio to prison, but were not able to put Smith away, despite his obvious financial crimes. As D.A., Miller took the case and was able to get Smith on tax evasion. He finally got eight months.

By Don Bauder, Mar 4, 2013 | Read full article

Lois and C. Arnholt Smith (far right) at Kona Kai Club, c.1960. I met my first wife Lois in about 1917. We were in the group that used to go to dances and boating parties.

Mr. San Diego: Born with the Century

And Solar Aircraft — there’s another institution that we made. And that damn Herb Kunzel. He was president of Solar at the end, and he would eventually be appointed to liquidate West-gate California when it was declared insolvent. But National Steel lugged that Solar Aircraft Company along by supplying them with things they couldn’t pay for. And I think the animosity between Kunzel and me came because we were pushing him to try to collect the debts.

By C. Arnholt Smith, March 19, 1992 | Read full article

President Dwight Eisenhower (left), Mamie Eisenhower (center), Smith (right), c. 1959. We were giving him a breakfast at the Cuyamaca Club. I was sitting next to him, and we were talking about San Diego, and he said, “Is the El Cortez Hotel the best hotel you’ve got in San Diego?”

The decline of a western tycoon

About a year after my son died, around 1967, my divorce from Lois was finalized. I think the divorce came about when I began to realize I was kind of a lone soldier in our relationship, so to speak. We had really drifted farther and farther apart. And through politics, I had gotten acquainted with Helen Alvarez. I liked the company of Helen and the activities she was involved in. And it was one of those things, it happened.

By C. Arnholt Smith, March 26, 1992 | Read full article

Joe Brennan, c. 1920. He conned the Navy into doing the dredging, and they had to have some place to dump the spoil, so they started filling in that area where the airport is and created a solid land mass. The Marine base and the Navy base is all fill too.

The Let’s-Get-It-Done Harbormaster

Joe conned the Navy into doing the dredging, and they had to have some place to dump the spoil, so they started filling in that area where the airport is and created a solid land mass. The Marine base and the Navy base is all fill too.

It was very marshy. Before that was filled in, there were times when you couldn’t go to Pt. Loma from San Diego. The water was too high for cars to go through there.

By C. Arnholt Smith, May 7, 1992 | Read full article

Opening day at San Luis Rey Downs, June 29, 1969. We had about 22 of our own racehorses at San Luis Rey. Helen, my wife, owned a lot of thoroughbreds. They only did so-so. Mostly just so.

Track Marks

I had a home there on the beach at the foot of 27th Street. On race dates and after race dates on Sundays, they’d all kind of gather, sometimes at our house, sometimes at others’. Jimmy Durante, Pat O’Brien, Bob Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Willy Shoemaker, a couple of songwriters, and many others. They’d start someplace, then all come on over and have drinks and beer and snacks — a traveling party all summer long.

By C. Arnholt Smith, July, 23 1992 | Read full article

What They Didn’t Tell You about Mr. San Diego

Hahn subsequently approached Smith with the idea of building a shopping center in San Diego — this time as a full partner rather than just a lender. The result was the Fashion Valley Shopping Center, a joint venture between Ernest W. Hahn Inc. and Smith’s Westgate-California Realty Company. The center cost $50 million to build and opened in October 1969 on 78 acres of land in Mission Valley, on the former site of Smith’s Valley Lane Farms.

By Thomas K. Arnold, Jan. 7, 1993 | Read full article

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