Inside Hollywood’s Billionaire Donor Class and David Geffen’s $150 Million Gift to Yale

Some Hollywood stars make some huge cash, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s who made $87.5 million in 2020. But solely a handful of leisure business figures rank as billionaires, ready like David Geffen to donate $150 million to Yale Drama School so it might go tuition-free in perpetuity.

In truth, business watchers say that almost all well-known performers and celebrities leverage their fame and affect to get different folks to donate cash, moderately than giving big quantities from their very own financial institution accounts. That leaves the most important private presents to those that have constructed their fortunes on the enterprise aspect.

Marc Pollick, president and founding father of the nonprofit Giving Back Fund — a nationwide group that encourages and facilitates charitable giving by skilled athletes, celebrities, excessive web price people, firms and others, mentioned that Hollywood wealth is commonly considerably much less spectacular than that of tech entrepreneurs and enterprise capitalists. “David, of course, is in a different league as a billionaire,” Pollick advised TheWrap. “You don’t (usually) see $150 million gifts from people in the entertainment industry.”

Yale Drama School dean and creative director James Bundy advised TheWrap that though Geffen isn’t a Yale graduate, the present is in line with Geffen’s historical past of donations to the humanities. He has “major theater chops” as an investor in Broadway productions and a donor to New York’s Lincoln Center. Geffen’s generosity to theater additionally embrace $5 million to UCLA’s Westwood Playhouse in 1995, after which the playhouse was renamed the Geffen Playhouse.

Yale hailed Geffen’s $150-million present to the re-named David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University as “the largest on record in the history of American theater.” However, the mega-donation is hardly the biggest ever from the DreamWorks co-founder.

Geffen’s philanthropy over the previous few many years features a complete of $450 million to UCLA — together with $200 million to UCLA Medical School — and one other Yale-sized 2017 pledge of $150 million to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) towards the museum’s new galleries presently below development, the biggest single money present from a person within the museum’s historical past. The new Peter Zumthor-designed constructing can be known as the David Geffen Galleries in honor of the donation.

Geffen, whose consultant didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark, is presently price $10.5 billion, in accordance to Forbes, and $11.9 billion in accordance to Bloomberg, each of which maintain operating statistics on the world’s wealthiest people. Such a big hole in estimates is uncommon for the 2 publications — however by both calculation, that’s a complete lot greater than most Hollywood performers and personalities have within the financial institution. Most of Geffen’s fortune comes from investments he made after promoting Geffen Records in 1990. He additionally owns Apple Inc. inventory that was reportedly valued at $6 billion in 2020 and continues to develop.

There are a couple of personalities who’ve cracked the billionaire mark, together with Oprah Winfrey (price $2.7 billion), and Tyler Perry ($1 billion), each of whom are enterprise moguls in addition to performers after constructing their very own leisure and media firms. And most of Hollywood’s billionaires are gamers on the enterprise aspect. The leisure business’s wealthiest (as calculated by Forbes) embrace Steven Spielberg ($3.7 billion) and “Power Rangers” tycoon Haim Saban ($3 billion), in addition to former Disney chief Michael Eisner ($2.1 billion in accordance to Los Angeles Business Journal).

Not surprisingly, Geffen, Spielberg and Saban are all huge donors to the brand new, $388-million Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, opening Sept. 30. Saban and his spouse, Cheryl, gave $50 million, Geffen $25 million and Spielberg $10 million (together with one other $10 million from Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks with Geffen and Spielberg, although Quibi-launcher Katzenberg doesn’t rank as a billionaire with a web price of $900 million, in accordance to Forbes).

Another new museum celebrating cinema, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, is slated to open someday in 2023 in Exposition Park, however George Lucas (price $7.1 billion ), who bought his Lucasfilm firm to Disney in 2012 for $4.1 billion in inventory and money, is masking the $1 billion value of the establishment.

Pollick mentioned celebs whose cash comes primarily from performing are extra possible to leverage their fame and affect to elevate funds for favourite causes, moderately than making big private donations. “They don’t really put in a lot of their own money; they use their likeness and image to be able to attract money to whatever their cause is,” Pollick mentioned.

While some may query a mega-donation to a drama faculty, it’s a extra noble use of cash than some billionaires have proven in recent times, mentioned Pollick. “I don’t know what it’s like to have a billion dollars, but if I had a billion dollars, I’d want to be associated with something (like Yale rather than) some of the things people seem to be doing with their billions — more than, let’s say, going into space,” Pollick mentioned, alluding to the dear space-bound tasks of tech billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, price $177 billion and $151 million respectively.

“If you are going to endow anything, you are going to endow the best,” Pollick added. Yale Drama School “further burnishes his name in that it is an American icon…I think overall a gift like this in perpetuity put your family name in association forever with something like that.”

Whether private riches go to greater schooling or a visit to outer area, nevertheless, don’t anticipate to see many $150 million presents from Hollywood anytime quickly. “Not all Hollywood donors have (Geffen’s) kind of wealth,” Maria Di Mento, a senior reporter on the Washington, D.C.-based Chronicle of Philanthropy, advised TheWrap. “Even famous actors, some of the top-paid actors are wealthy, they are not Geffen wealthy; they are not Spielberg wealthy. It all depends on what side of Hollywood we’re talking about, the (talent side) or the business side, which is what Geffen is.”

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