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.
One of the brothers, Dar Mahboubi, backed haberdasher Bijan during the Eighties, and younger Mahboubis continue to manage the family’s considerable property holdings.(A famous story recalls Bill Clinton’s visit to the Nazarian home for a fundraiser: He supposedly remarked, “This makes me realize I really do live in government housing.”)Today many younger members of the Persian community favor a less ornate style and in this—as well as in many more-important matters—they represent a generational pivot between the Persian Jewish community’s past in Tehran and its future in Los Angeles. A.-born and -bred interior designer whose husband, Bob, is the only Persian partner at white-shoe law firm Greenberg Glusker, is a prime example.“Especially for women, the revolution was the best thing that could have happened,” says Natasha, who earned a master’s degree in international relations at Columbia University before choosing a more creative career path.Glossy stone floors and glass walls are set off by glam touches like a Roy Lichtenstein print—This Must Be the Place, cheekily hung in the bathroom—and a black crystal chandelier.But what’s inside the Nazarian house is secondary to the view: the city of Los Angeles spread like a vast Persian carpet laid at Nazarian’s feet. These days Nazarian hardly needs an introduction in Hollywood and Beverly Hills: At 33, he has built an empire that includes trendy nightclubs, an archipelago of restaurants and the flashy SLS Hotel, with further hotels planned for Miami and Las Vegas.