11 May 2014

Charitable giving should be shrouded in mystery ... n'est pas?



Dear Reader, an engrossing article to be found/read over at Bloomberg by one Zachary Mider.  Loved every second of this petite mystery.  To be enjoyed on a wonderfully languid and relaxing "Happy Mother's Day!" day. Worth the read, I promise.  Link to Bloomberg below the tease/fold.  
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The $13 Billion Mystery Angels  By Zachary R. Mider May 08, 2014
For many years, a Los Angeles psychoanalyst to the stars named Milton Wexler led the fight against Huntington’s disease, a rare and fatal congenital illness. His Hereditary Disease Foundation didn’t have much money, so he attracted scientists to his cause by inviting them to parties where they could mingle with his celebrity friends.

In 1997 a single donor began charting a new direction for the research effort into Huntington’s. He poured millions and eventually hundreds of millions of dollars into an aggressive search for a cure. At first he worked with Wexler’s organization, then split off and established his own network of nonprofit foundations. He hired a former banker named Robi Blumenstein to run them. In place of Wexler’s salons, where the talk had flowed freely from chromosomes to the arts, Blumenstein offered conferences with PowerPoint presentations on promising therapies and partnerships with major drugmakers such as Pfizer (PFE). “The word on the street was, wow, this is great. There’s this rich guy who’s creating this virtual biotech that’s tackling H.D.,” says Nathan Goodman, a scientist in Seattle. “My God, our prayers have been answered.”

By 2011 the donor was spending more than $100 million a year on Huntington’s, more than the National Institutes of Health was investing in a cure. Like everyone else, Goodman was grateful for the infusion of money—the disease had killed his father-in-law. He nevertheless found it frustrating that he couldn’t talk to the donor about his spending priorities. He says he grew more curious when he noticed Blumenstein at research conferences accompanied by a middle-aged, bearded man. A few years ago in Palm Springs, Calif., Goodman says, Blumenstein introduced the man to a group of attendees as the “donor’s representative.” He gave the man’s name as “Andrew.”

The unknown man’s donations to the fight against Huntington’s, it turns out, were just a small part of his generosity. 

(continue reading at Bloomberg!)
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