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Pepperdine University Mourns the Passing of Fred Sands

Fred C. Sands, the visionary founder of Fred Sands Realtors and Vintage Capital Group, as well as the Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate at Pepperdine University, died unexpectedly on Friday, Oct. 23. He was 77.

“I was truly devastated to learn of Fred's passing,” says Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton. “He was a delightful new friend and colleague in the effort to make Pepperdine better. His enthusiasm for his chosen profession, real estate, was infectious. I had known his name and reputation for years, but I barely had a glimpse of all that made Fred Sands such a special human being. His monetary gift to establish the Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate was generous, but the warmth of his friendship was more generous still. I am proud that the Sands family is forever a part of the Pepperdine community.”

Fred Sands and California real estate were synonymous for decades. Born in New York City on February 16, 1938, Sands moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of seven. Following his graduation from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, he found his vocation studying real estate and business administration at UCLA. In 1968 he became Coldwell Banker’s top-producing real estate agent after posting a phenomenal record of residential real estate sales. Less than a year later he struck out on his own opening the first Fred Sands Realtors office in Brentwood—the size of a two-car garage—on Barrington Court.

So began an illustrious 30-year career for Fred Sands and Fred Sands Realtors that went on to become the second largest real estate and financial services company in California, which included owned and operated entities in title insurance, home warranty, mortgage banking, and escrow. The enterprise employed 4,000 people throughout its network of offices and franchised operations—generating $9.4 billion in volume per year. Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit that would set new standards in real estate, Fred Sands Realtors opened more than 72 offices across California and Nevada and served a sophisticated clientele that included U.S. presidents, corporate leaders, and hundreds of Hollywood celebrities. Fred Sands was the most recognized name in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s. The company was ultimately sold to Coldwell Banker in 2000.
An extraordinarybusiness leader, Sands’ commitment to excellence and dedication to client service permeated the company’s culture. They also defined his relationship with the many cultural, civic, and business communities in Los Angeles. Fred Sands Realtors invested time and resources in dozens of worthy causes, from Adopt-a-School programs and Special Olympics to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, convalescent hospitals, arthritis telethons, the United Way, and the American Cancer Society. He took his role as citizen very seriously and supported many causes and people committed to individual freedom and responsibility.

Most recently Sands served as the head of Vintage Capital Group, which was founded in 2001 and includes Vintage Real Estate and Vintage Fund Management. As chair of Vintage Real Estate, Sands pursued his passion of acquiring shopping centers and regional malls throughout the United States. Sands also chaired Vintage Fund Management, a successful private equity company, which invests in growth companies. Sands created a strong executive team at Vintage Capital Group, which will continue to build upon and grow the enterprise he leaves as one of his many legacies.

Among his many professional and industry achievements, Sands was named one of the “Top 25 CEOs of the Decade” by California Business magazine. He was the recipient of the prestigious American Academy of Achievement Award and was recognized as one of the industry’s top “Movers and Shakers” by the National Association of Realtors.

A founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sands served as president of the board of directors and chair of its investment committee. He also served on the board of the Los Angeles Police Foundation, as well as the board of the Los Angeles Opera for over a decade. In addition, Sands served as chair of the United Way Million Dollar Roundtable. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts and liaison to the Kennedy Center. He was also appointed to the California Arts Council by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Well known for his philanthropy, earlier this year Sands made a pinnacle gift to Pepperdine University to endow the Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate, creating a dynamic new enterprise within the University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Sands was a member of the Pepperdine University Board and received an honorary doctor of business degree from the Graziadio School last April.

“Fred Sands was an entrepreneur, investor, distinguished businessman, and philanthropist,” said David M. Smith, dean of the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management. “He generously shared his time and talents with countless others and loved the real estate industry, which he served tirelessly. Earlier this year, Pepperdine University was fortunate to work alongside Fred and his family to create the Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate at the Graziadio School of Business and Management. Fred was a champion for raising up the next generation of professionals in business and real estate. It is our desire to instill within the Institute Fred’s entrepreneurism and passion to serve others. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s family, friends, and colleagues. We join the Los Angeles community in mourning his death while celebrating his life and many contributions.”

Sands is survived by his wife, Carla, chair of The Blue Ribbon of the Los Angeles Music Center; son, Jonathan; daughter, Alexandra; and brother, William Sands. Funeral services will be held on Friday, October 30, at 10 AM at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Boulevard.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Sands’ memory to the Museum of Contemporary Art or to Pepperdine’s Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate. Contributions to MOCA may be sent to 250 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Contributions to the Fred Sands Institute of Real Estate may be made by visiting give.pepperdine.edu/sands .