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The Influentials: Philanthropy

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The Benefit Bunch
A charity-gala planner’s ultimate table.


(1.) Bruce Kovner
New York’s most unassuming philanthropist quietly donated $25 million to renovate Lincoln Center and recently slipped BAM $5 million.

(2.) Bette Midler
Has turned 60 city-owned lots into gardens, removed 80,000 tons of trash from parks, reclaimed more than 400 acres of riverfront parkland, and saved dozens of community gardens from bulldozers.

(3.) Mort Zuckerman
Raised $14 million in three days last year to buy Gaza Strip greenhouses for Palestinians, who subsequently looted them.

(4.) Russell Simmons
Wires $2 million a year from friends like Ludacris, Donald Trump, and Ron Perelman to 70-plus nonprofit arts groups, including galleries for black artists in Chelsea and Clinton Hill and, soon, an East New York megaspace.

(5.) Marie-Josée Kravis
The economist (a Hudson Institute board member) and her financier husband, Henry Kravis, have donated $25 million to Mount Sinai Medical Center and $10 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other gifts.

(6.) Laurie Tisch Sussman
After reading news stories about schools with no playing fields, she persuaded her father to build 43 athletic centers; her own fund has provided more than $30 million to arts groups.

(7.) Leonard Lauder
Persuaded his fellow Whitney Museum trustees to send $200 million on Pop Art and Abstract Expressionist works—then paid for most of it himself.

(8.) Richard Gilder
A founding trustee of the Central Park Conservancy, who donated a record $17 million in 1993. Still gives through his own $45 million–plus philanthropy fund.

(9.) Petra Nemcova
Tsunami-surviving, benefit-hopping model started a fund for disaster victims, raising $1.3 million so far. At her auction at Cipriani’s, dinner with Nemcova and a few model pals (Sophie Dahl, Adriana Lima) went for $75,000.

(10.) Mercedes Bass
She and her oil-magnate husband, Sid, gave the Metropolitan Opera $25 million, the largest single unrestricted gift in its 123-year history.

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