Designer in charity brouhaha
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.”