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CNN.COM - Beverly Hills Puts a New Twist on Pawnbroking

CNN.COM - Beverly Hills Puts a New Twist on Pawnbroking
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via CNN.com Transcripts


Aired April 9, 2000 – 8:26 p.m. ET

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Finally, when you think of pawn shops, the exclusive California community of Beverly Hills isn’t likely to spring to mind. But nearly every U.S. city and town has one.

CNN’s Jennifer Auther introduces us to one particular shop which caters to an upscale clientele just a little down on its luck.


JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stereotypical pawn shop is perhaps best illustrated in the 1965 film called “The Pawnbroker,” starring Rod Steiger.




AUTHER: That image of pawnbrokers in poorer parts of town serving people down on their luck is challenged by Helene and Jean Zimmelman, owners of the Beverly Loan Company in Beverly Hills, California.

JEAN ZIMMELMAN, BEVERLY LOAN COMPANY: It’s a 5-carat emerald and it’s got 1.26 carat in diamonds. Would you like to know the price? Are you interested in a purchase here?

AUTHER (on camera): Yes.

ZIMMELMAN: It is $4,000, which is a terrific price.

AUTHER (voice-over): About one-third of the retail price.

When you’re down and out in Beverly Hills, here you can discreetly sell or borrow against grandma’s broach, or those paintings by Miro, Chigall (ph), even a sketch by Picasso. Terms are regulated by the state of California.

J. ZIMMELMAN: Ninety percent of our loans are on jewelry. We hold the jewelry as collateral, and at the end of four months they have the option. They can extend the loan by paying the interest or they can redeem it at any time.

AUTHER: Beyond the divorce, poor health and bad credit, what qualifies as down and out in a city so close to Hollywood?

HELENE ZIMMELMAN, BEVERLY LOAN COMPANY: The deal is cooking, but it hasn’t happened yet. But I need to have the beach house for the summer — or for two weeks. And you don’t — you know, you don’t need $100,000 to rent a beach house for two weeks.

AUTHER: One hundred thousand dollars was considered a small loan to Helene and Jean’s father, Louis Zimmelman, who was known as pawn broker to the stars before he died in 1995. Perhaps his most valuable lesson”

J. ZIMMELMAN: We don’t ask any questions. We’re only interested in the property, if the jewelry belongs to the person.

AUTHER (on camera): The earliest recorded history of pawnbroking dates back to the Renaissance period and a wealthy merchant family called Medici. The Medicis traded throughout all major cities in Europe.

RUDOLPH GINTEL, BROTHERS COLLATERAL LOANS: They had their code of arms on a shield. And one corner of their code of arms had three balls, three golden balls. And through the years, that symbol became associated with pawnbroking.

AUTHER (voice-over): From there it went to England, and from England to the U.S. — and in Beverly Hills, there’s a whole new spin.

Jennifer Auther, CNN, Beverly Hills, California.

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