Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lenfest gabs

Philadelphians, HF Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, were one of 40
billionaires that signed on to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ charity
pledge. The pledge requires the signer to give more than half their
wealth away. Larry Ellison of Oracle and former Philadelphian Ron
Perelman also signed the pledge.

Gerry Lenfest, who took home $1.6 billion after the sale of his cable
company to Comcast, said, “When Warren called, it was very easy for us
to agree. Marguerite and I have already given away more than half of
our wealth.”

Marguerite Lenfest shook her head in agreement, "We think
it is bad to leave that much wealth to your children. All that money
would rob them of the incentive to do anything with their lives. It is
not surprise that the couple did a joint interview. They do almost
everything together including starting their cable empire.

Gerry Lenfest said, “We are having too much fun giving our wealth away
to save any for later.” Marguerite Lenfest added, “We also do not plan
to have our foundation last for perpetuity, only for the next 30
years. After that, the foundation could outlive its original purpose." Friends say that the
bitter fight over the Barnes foundation, which the Lenfests were
involved with, influenced their plans to give their foundation a
finite life.

Gerry Lenfest praised his wife, “Warren said that Marguerite had the
best plan. Marguerite told him that people should figure out what they
need; how many cars etc. Then, they should give the rest away." These billionaires
practice what they preach. They live without air conditioning in their original house that was purchased in 1965.

In bad news for Philadelphia, Gerry Lenfest said, "We are almost done
giving our money away. We have given away more than $800
million.”Marguerite Lenfest stressed, “We can only give to
organizations not individuals. It would be too hard to distribute the
money if we were giving to individuals.”

The couple, who have given the most in donations to this region except
for the Annenbergs, is actively involved in recruiting other
billionaires to sign the pledge and are planning to attend a strategy
dinner hosted by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Gerry Lenfest, who
simultaneously chairs the Board of Trustees for the Philadelphia
Museum of Art, the Curtis Center, and the American Revolution Center,
said, "We are always talking up the pledge."

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