De­signer in char­ity brouhaha

New York Post - - NEWS -

SUP­PORT­ERS of HIV/AIDS char­ity am­fAR are is­su­ing re­newed de­mands that its chair­man, fash­ion de­signer Ken­neth Cole, step down over a deal he made to di­vert char­ity pro­ceeds to Har

vey We­in­stein’s Broad­way in­vestors — while the non­profit’s board re­mains locked in a war over the scan­dal.

The board of am­fAR has split into two fac­tions “that es­sen­tially hate each other and be­lieve that only they can save it” af­ter Cole made a con­tro­ver­sial deal with dis­graced movie mogul We­in­stein that al­lowed $600,000 raised from auc­tion items at their glitzy 2015 Cannes gala to be di­verted to pay back in­vestors in We­in­stein’s failed mu­si­cal “Find­ing Nev­er­land.”

A group of 60 mem­bers of the HIV/AIDS com­mu­nity have just sent a let­ter to am­fAR urg­ing Cole and other board mem­bers who sup­ported this “in­ap­pro­pri­ate trans­ac­tion to re­sign from am­fAR’s board of trus­tees.” The let­ter added that while the full de­tails of the sus­pi­cious deal were yet to emerge, fail­ure to change the cur­rent lead­er­ship would risk “se­verely dam­ag­ing am­fAR’s rep­u­ta­tion and its work.”

We­in­stein’s in­vestors in “Nev­er­land” were mostly wealthy moguls. in­clud­ing Len Blavat­nik, Ron Burkle, Steve Rat­tner and Sheikh Mo

hammed Youssef El-Khereiji, who were listed as pro­duc­ers, but none of them are be­lieved to have re­couped their in­vest­ment. A source added, “Har­vey was al­ways look­ing to off­set costs that would have hit his pocket as well as in­vestors’.”

On Thurs­day, four new board mem­bers — in­clud­ing Getty heir Aileen Getty and Harry Be

la­fonte — were given votes — spark­ing fur­ther drama be­cause they were said to be Cole al­lies.

Cole said in a state­ment that the let­ter “is based on a false nar­ra­tive and dis­tor­tion of facts ... I have proudly served on the board of am­fAR for 30 years and as its chair for 13 of them. We have had an im­pact in many of the most im­por­tant break­throughs in the fight against HIV and AIDS.” He added, “Any sug­ges­tion that I some­how made this deal as a fa­vor to We­in­stein is ridicu­lous and patently false.”

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