Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30

David Geffen

I try to avoid posting snarky stuff, but I am possessed of demons this morning.

Billionaires love their flashy toys, and David Geffen (born 1943) is no exception. He has a weakness for heart-stoppingly expensive yachts. He owns Pelorus, a 377-ft. $300 million trinket with two helicopter pads. At 453 feet, the mega-yacht Rising Sun is 76 feet longer, making it the eight largest yacht in the world. It has a basketball court. I’m not making this up. Why settle for one yacht, when you really need two?

I think exactly the same way.

He also collects art, especially paintings by American artists. In 2006 he sold Jackson Pollock's 1948 painting No. 5, 1948 from his collection for $140 million. The sale made No. 5, 1948 the most expensive painting ever sold, outstripping the $134 million paid a month earlier by cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder for Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I**. No. 5, 1948 was originally owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr. and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC (above).

Geffen’s super hot 28-year old partner Jeremy Lingvall (born 1983), who graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2006 (!), attended the Obama’s first White House state dinner* (in honor of Indian prime minister Singh) on Geffen’s arm – well, not literally. And Lingvall didn’t have to lie about having a college degree. I should point out that Geffen is 68 years old, and if my math is correct, that makes him 40 years older than Lingvall (below, aboard one of Geffen's yachts). Hello? The silence is deafening.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In spite of Geffen’s over-the-top acquisitions of both metal and flesh varieties, we can’t lose sight of his equally over-the-top philanthropy. He is a major supporter of medical research, AIDS organizations and the arts. In 2002 he gave a staggering $200 million unrestricted endowment to the UCLA School of Medicine. In 1995 he donated $5 million to UCLA's Westwood Playhouse.

Geffen is a self-made billionaire in the music and entertainment industry – by most accounts worth just under $5 billion (that's 5,000 million dollars - think about it). Geffen dropped out of several colleges and started working in the mailroom at the William Morris Talent Agency, where he forged a document in order to prove he had a college degree, a requirement for a promotion he was offered. He went on to found record and movie production companies and sign major talent (Dreamworks SKG, Geffen Records, Asylum Records, etc.). Geffen is an openly gay man named by Out Magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America, and he is listed by Forbes as one of the top 100 billionaires. And, if we dig down really deep and admit the truth, those of us who smirk and poke fun at Mr. Geffen do so because we’re really envious.

*Also in attendance at the 2009 state dinner were Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and partner Sean Eldridge, chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank Fred Hochberg and partner Thomas Healy, as well as activist Urvashi Vaid and her partner Kate Clinton. It is noteworthy that Geffen, a generous and dedicated Democrat, was seated at the Obama table, immediately to Michelle’s left. The times, they are a changin’.

**Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is on permanent display at the Neue Galerie in NYC, on the corner of Fifth Ave. at 86th St. Don’t miss the street level restaurant to the right of the entrance, the Viennese Cafe Sabarsky; it’s my favorite spot in NYC for breakfast (opening at a civilized 9:00 a.m.).

Talking about breakfast makes us all hungry for some male tan lines, so here we go.

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