The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, May 30, 2005  

A Regular Chatty Cathy

Gee whiz, show a little restraint, would you?

Beverly Sills has been singing, loudly and long, to New York Times writers Kurt Eichenwald and Daniel J. Wakin as they report on the latest crash of financier and arts benefactor Alberto W. Vilar (“The Double Ups and Downs of a Philanthropist,” May 30). The Times reports:

“He was not, how shall I say, quiet, about his giving,” said Beverly Sills, the soprano and a former chairwoman of the [Metropolitan Opera]. “I think that was a turn-off for other members of the board, the fact that he wanted more attention.”

Ms. Sills said Mr. Vilar once proposed putting the names of donors, including his own name, on the subtitle readout screens that are installed on the backs of seats at the house, and even bringing donors on stage at the end of a performance. The ideas were rejected.

“His reasons that more-public donations give more encouragement to other people was not really accepted,” she said. “They felt it was a little bit of an ego trip.”

Hardly the model of discretion. I would expect such talk from someone like, I don’t know, Donald Trump, but . . . Hey, wait, here’s Trump quoted in the same article: “He spent money like it was water. Many people have fought me over the years, but there was something really missing with this guy.”

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