The summer is heating up across the globe and our favorite billionaires are out doing their thing. While the drama rages on in Washington D.C., one Russian billionaire has decided to park his yacht in front of the Statue of Liberty. Another billionaire took to Twitter to ask how he should spend his money. You can imagine how well that went. A billionaire sold off a pricey piece of famous art to fund social justice. And yet another billionaire jumping into ride sharing by investing in a rival to Uber. This is the latest edition of the Billionaire Roundup.
Russian Billionaire Anchors Yacht In Front Of Statue Of Liberty
Tourists in New York city are in a tizzy because their shots of the Statue of Liberty are being blocked by a Russian billionaire's mega yacht. Le Grand Bleu is owned by Eugene Schvidler, a Russian oligarch who made his money in the energy industry in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The yacht was a gift from his close friend and fellow billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. The two are partners in the investment and asset management firm Millhouse.
Le Grand Bleu is 370 feet long, making it one of the largest private yachts in the world. It has been anchored close to Lady Liberty since early June and is obscuring the view of the excursion boats that sail out into New York harbor to visit the famous landmark. The yacht is technically legally anchored; however, most boats do not linger in the area for more than a day or two, nor are they so enormous that they carry a 73 foot sail boat and 68 foot powerboat on board.
The U.S. Coast Guard can order the yacht to move on, but typically this is only done if the boat is creating an obstacle, not just ruining the view or screwing up tourist's photographs.
UPDATE: As of June 19th, Le Grand Bleu has moved from its mooring in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Jeff Bezos Takes To Twitter To Crowdsource His Charitable Donations
Billionaire Amazon founder and new owner of Whole Foods Jeff Bezos took to Twitter the other day to ask his followers how he should donate some of his enormous fortune. Bezos has a net worth of $80 billion. In a series of tweets, Bezos said:
"This tweet is a request for ideas. I am thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time- working on the longer term. I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now – short term – at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact. If you have ideas, just reply to this tweet with the idea (and if you think this approach is wrong, would love to hear that too.)."
More than 15,000 people responded to Bezos' query. Recommendations ranged from helping young homeless people to food programs for children in need to programs for LGBTQ youth to, you guessed it, personal pleas for money.
One such plea came from German politician Christopher Lauer, who tweeted: "I could need some money and I would consider it very philanthropic. And I guess everybody else would, too."
Lauer added another thought, which frankly, I wholly support:
"Or you start a basic income grand experiment, where you pay 1,000 random people $1,000 a month."
The tweet possibly signals a shift for Bezos, who has yet to make charity as big a part of his work as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg. Instead Bezos has channeled his money into his space exploration company Blue Origin and kept quiet about other donations.
Billionaire Sells A Lichtenstein To Fund Social Justice
Agnes Gund is a renowned billionaire art collector and she's decided to use that power to fund and seek social justice. Gund recently sold a Roy Lichtenstein painting for $165 million and plans to use $100 million of the proceeds to establish the Art for Justice Fund, a criminal justice organization with a mission to reduce mass incarceration.
The sale price of Lichtenstein's "Masterpiece" is one of the highest prices ever paid for a painting and a record for the iconic pop art artist. Lichtenstein's previous highest selling painting was "Nurse," which sold in late 2015 for $95.4 million.
Gund's Art for Justice Fund's goal is to give grants to organizations that are already immersed in criminal justice reform as well as help give education and employment opportunities for those leaving prison. The fund will also make it a goal to support art programs that address the injustices of mass incarceration in the U.S.
Gund has six African American grandchildren and has been vocal about how she worries about their future as they grow up, "particularly in light of shooting of black teenagers like Trayvon Martin in Florida," she told The New York Times.
The Art for Justice Fund has a number of high profile supporters including Whitney Museum chairwoman Laurie M. Tisch, American Express chairman Kenneth Chenault, Goldman Sachs' executive officer Edith Cooper and husband Robert Taylor, and New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch. The group has set a goal to raise another $100 million in the next five years.
Saudi Prince Invests In Uber Rival
Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has joined forces with Daimler AG, the world's largest luxury car manufacturer, as an investor in a $500 million fundraising round by Dubai-based ride sharing company Careem. Alwaleed's investment firm, Kingdom Holding Co. will receive a seat on Careem Network's board as part of the deal. Careem is currently valued at $1 billion.
The Middle Easters technology start up industry is blowing up. Investment into these startups is flowing thanks to the plethora of billionaires in the area.