Philanthropists Singed by Madoff

March 3rd, 2009 | Sources: Wall Street Journal


faceofevilWith financial support from the Picower Foundation, Mark Bear had been head down looking for a way to restore eyesight in patients with amblyopia.

Not anymore. Bear’s funding is gone.

In fact, the Picower Foundation recently informed its grant recipients that its entire endowment-including the dollars supporting Bear’s efforts-had been managed by Bernard Madoff, and the whole thing is gone.

picowersplunderedThe Picower Foundation was formed by investor Jeffrey Picower and his wife. Its investment portfolio was valued at $950 million in 2007. It has already ceased grant making and plans to shutter completely in a few months.

“Madoff pulled the rug out from underneath us,” Jim Surmeier, chair of physiology at Northwestern and a participant in Picower-funded research on Parkinson’s disease told the Wall Street Journal.

Experts polled by the Journal estimate Madoff’s Ponzi scheme could ultimately affect millions of people and research from palliative care to diabetes.

mortmuggedReal-estate mogul Mortimer Zuckerman, who pledged $100 million to Sloan-Kettering in 2006, said his charitable trust lost $30 million to Madoff, equivalent to 10% of its value. But he vowed his gift to the New York cancer center would not be affected.

“Long-term, it’s billions of dollars of funding that won’t get made” Melissa Berman Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ CEO told the Journal.

Kay Windsor founder Carl Shapiro was scorched personally for $400 million, and his foundation’s endowment lost an additional $100 million.

shapirosscammedHe and his wife Ruth had recently pledged $27 million to the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Their foundation announced it will honor all current pledges but that’s it for 2009.

“We’re back at the starting gate,” said Bear. “It’s disheartening.”


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