Celebrities like Gisele Bundchen, Martin Scorsese donate fraction of wealth to their own charities
They say they are working to save the oceans, educate needy children and expose youth to the arts, but celebrities who form their own charities don’t always put their money where their mouth is.
A Post survey of celebrity charities found that many wealthy TV, music and sports stars give out only tiny fractions of their net worth.
Brazilian supermodel and award-winning environmental activist Gisele Bundchen and her husband, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, are worth a combined $580 million, but made only paltry contributions to environmental groups and a charity that helps the disabled last year through their joint charity, public filings show.
In 2018, their private nonprofit, the Luz Foundation, gave out $36,455, most of it — $22,000 — to the Brazil Foundation, a charity that runs an annual star-studded fundraising gala in New York.
The couple’s foundation, which dates to 2009, doled out only $300 to Waterkeeper Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, a nonprofit that works to protect coastal waters in the Central American country where the couple has long owned a hilltop compound overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The couple married at the tropical retreat in 2009.
The couple’s foundation also gave out $900 to the World Wildlife Fund and $1,000 to the California-based Challenged Athletes Foundation in 2018, filings show.
Bundchen, a former Victoria’s Secret model, is among the highest-paid catwalkers in the world. She continues to rake in tens of millions in endorsements and earns royalties from a best-selling 2018 book, “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life.” Gisele Inc., a company tied to Bundchen, donated $432,925 to the Luz Foundation in 2018, public filings show. The charity has $378,401 of unspent donations in its coffers, records show.
Outside the couple’s joint charity, Bundchen said she donated a portion of the profits from her work with the Brazilian shoe company Grendene that manufactures flip-flops to charity. Beginning in 2002, she also gave millions in disaster relief, including $1.5 million to the Red Cross after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
Brady has mainly relied on others to fund Change the World Foundation Trust, a non-profit he founded in 2005. Best Buddies International, a charity founded by Anthony Shriver, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, has bankrolled Brady’s charity with hundreds of thousands in donations.
Best Buddies donated $500,000 to Brady’s Change the World Foundation Trust in 2016, tax records show. In that same year, Brady contributed just $134,294 to his own charity. Brady is worth $180 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
In 2017, Change the World Foundation Trust donated $500,600 to nonprofits, including $50,000 to Brady’s high school, Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, and $5,000 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Calls seeking comment from the the couple’s charities were not returned.
Whether they are winning Super Bowls or Oscars, celebrities often have foggy charitable missions.
Martin Scorsese, the director behind blockbusters such “The Irishman” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” has a net worth of more than $100 million, but doled out only $175,000 to the Scorsese Family Foundation in 2017, public filings show. And most of that cash — just over $130,000 — went to pay the salary and benefits of film archivist Mark McElhatten, who is also associated with Scorsese’s for-profit production company Sikelia Productions, according to an online bio. The charity owns nearly $700,000 worth of unidentified old films.
The nonprofit, which Scorsese runs with fifth wife Helen Morris, was set up in 2004. Part of its mission is “to provide opportunities for young filmmakers to learn the filmmaking process first-hand,” according to its incorporation documents. Between 2012 and 2015, Scorsese doled out a total of $75,000 to help set up the Martin Scorsese Media Center at Cardinal Hayes High School, which the legendary director attended as a youth in the Bronx.
Repeated calls and emails to Scorsese and his representatives were not returned last week.
Other celebrity charities have crashed and burned with their founders’ reputations.
A charity helmed by disgraced actor Kevin Spacey to mentor and provide grants to young actors raised only $22 in 2018, down from $133,722 in contributions in 2017, public filings show. He’s worth $100 million.
The Delaware-based Kevin Spacey Foundation America was founded in 2013 when the actor was at the height of his fame in the Netflix streaming series “House of Cards.” The three-person board of directors included actor Nathan Darrow, who played Spacey’s bodyguard Edward Meechum on the series, and Frank Selvaggi, an accountant who resigned from the group in 2017, tax filings show.
In the same year, snowballing allegations of sexual misconduct began to emerge about Spacey after actor Anthony Rapp told a reporter that Spacey had allegedly assaulted him when he was 14 years old.
The nonprofit, which has doled out tens of thousands to acting programs and young actors since its 2010 founding in London, where Spacey was artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre, gave out no grants last year. It finished the year with a deficit of more than $7,000, records show. Calls to the foundation were not returned last week.
Shamed former “Today” host Matt Lauer’s nonprofit foundation spent all of its contributions on accounting and legal fees and nothing on charity, the latest tax filings for the Lauer Family Foundation show.
Lauer, who was one of the highest paid broadcasters in the US, earning $28 million a year before he was fired from the network in 2017 over allegations of sexual misconduct, donated $23,000 to the group, almost all of it spent on administrative fees, according to public filings. Lauer ran the charity with wife Annette Roque, who divorced him in September.
Repeated calls to the charity were not returned last week.
A Miami-based charity run by hip-hop billionaire Jay-Z doled out small scholarships to needy kids that were barely enough to cover the cost of college textbooks, the group’s latest tax filings show.
The Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund took in $742,118 in donations and gave out $407,250 in grants in 2017 to 255 students with awards ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 each, tax filings show. The organization is overseen by Jay-Z’s mother Gloria Carter. Repeated calls and emails to the group over the past three weeks were not returned.
Last month, the group kicked off its inaugural Shawn Carter Foundation Gala Weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Events included a celebrity poker tournament, featuring DJ Khaled, Meek Mill and Swizz Beatz.
“Equipping our youth with the tools to success will always be a priority for me and my family,” Jay-Z told Billboard, adding that the group raised $6 million. Forbes recently estimated Jay-Z’s net worth at $1 billion. His wife, Beyonce, is worth $400 million, according to the magazine.
Madonna, meanwhile, was the rare star who could point to fixing a broken charity. Raising Malawi, a nonprofit founded by the Material Girl in 2006 that supports health and education for orphans in Africa, managed to dig itself out of a $2 million hole last year, its latest tax filings show.
The loss was due to increased costs at a hospital the charity helps to run in Malawi, a spokeswoman told The Post. But the group raised $7.5 million at a 2016 fundraiser at Art Basel, which is “enough money to fund operations at the hospital for a few years,” the spokeswoman said.
The group received grants totaling $2.9 million, most of the cash coming from Madonna herself, according to its 2018 IRS filings. She is worth $850 million.
The charity also benefited from donations from NYC magician David Blaine, who gave $310,000, and a foundation in the name of the late Gianni Versace, which contributed $500,000.
The charity was rocked by scandal in 2011 when auditors found that its former managers squandered $3.8 million in donations that were earmarked for a $15 million construction project to build a school for orphans. Instead, the cash went to golf club memberships, expensive cars, chauffeurs and other luxury items. At the time, board members were removed and a caretaker board featuring the pop star, Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary and money manager Richard Feldstein was put in place.
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