Last week’s word of China-based insurer Anbang’s pending sale of a group of luxury hotels led to a round-robin among some well-informed industry watchers who speculated that the Montage Beverly Hills could change hands in a separate deal. Chatter also indicated that Irvine-based Montage Hotels and Resorts would continue to run the place under a current management contract should eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Ohana Holdings sell the property on North Canon Drive … No distress in the air around the Montage, but it’s a different story at Loews Santa Monica, which appears to be one of the 15 properties that will go on the block in the wake of a crackdown by China’s central government on Anbang and top executive and shareholder Wu Xihohui for “economic crimes.” Anbang bought the portfolio from N.Y.-based private equity firm Blackstone Group for $6 billion or so in 2016 … There’s a so-far overlooked factor that could play into perceptions of the legal battle at LA Weekly, where co-owner David Welch is suing fellow investors in the one-time standard of local alternative journalism that seems to make headlines for everything but journalistic endeavor these days. Unreported elsewhere in the press has been the fact that Welch was announced as a new hire and partner in the law firm of Greenberg Gross on Dec. 1, 2017, two days after the sale of LA Weekly to Semanal Media, which listed him as chief executive at the time. Greenberg Gross has offices downtown, and co-founders Alan Greenberg and Wayne Gross are on the roster of investors behind Brian Calle’s ham-handed arrival as publisher of LA Weekly. Greenberg Gross quietly cut ties with Welch within three months of his hire, according to his LinkedIn page, which nonetheless listed his affiliation as having lasted a year. It won’t be so easy for Greenberg, Gross, Calle or anyone else to cut Welch out of Semanal Media’s management of LA Weekly – a move his lawsuit claims came in violation of an oral contract. … Follow-Up File: The hits keep coming for Oscar Arslanian in the wake of the Aug. 20 front-page piece our Matthew Blake wrote about the agent for the oldies. First came word that Arslanian just signed Freda Payne, best known for the 1970 chart-topper “Band of Gold.” Now the Daily Item in Lynn, Mass. is planning a feature piece on Arslanian as a local boy made good in Hollywood … Follow-Up File II: I gave you an L.A.-style local-boy-made-good story back in June – a tale of how Robert Garcia has scored a hit among professional gardeners and landscapers with his Baldwin Park-made Catchy Can. This photo from the front of the L.A. Times’ local section on Aug. 28 offers evidence that the California State Department of Parks is using the Catchy Can’s patented hand-and-scoop design to great effect in getting dead fish – reportedly victims of unusually high water temperatures this summer – out of Malibu Lagoon … Follow-Up File Final: Last week’s column included a picture of Pepper, the robot that showed up at the Tech Tastemakers event at the Irvine Co.’s Villages at Playa during last month’s L.A. Food & Wine Festival. Then the little machine –or some iteration of it, anyway – showed up at the grand opening of Japan House at Hollywood & Highland, where a couple of thousand guests got a first-class introduction to the island nation’s latest showcase for culture as a component of gross domestic product. Pepper was fun – he’s the product of Tokyo-based tech and investment powerhouse Softbank, by the way – but a couple of other stars from Japan outshined him. Single-name musical sensation Yoshiki showed he still has it, wowing the crowd on piano, while Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono flashed a lot of potential in remarks that were impressive for their substance, leavened with diplomacy, and spiced with good humor. See more from our Ciaran McEvoy on page 30… Sullivan Says: I recently erred for the second time in referring to the weekly Breakfast Club as a monthly gathering at the Jonathan Club, a misperception that likely owes to the impressive turnouts the events regularly draw on Tuesday mornings.
PAGE 3: Montage on Sales Block? LA Weekly’s Latest Mess