Bloomberg, Buffett and Warhol Make Major Donations

The media tycoon and former New York City mayor gifts $260 million to two Manhattan art centers.

Three side-by-side photos showing Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Andy Warhol dressed in suits.
Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Andy Warhol (left to right). Getty Images

Here are some of the biggest stories in philanthropy today, from the Warhol Foundation’s continued fight for freedom of expression to new revelations over Michael Bloomberg’s support for New York City-based arts institutions.

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A sizeable gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts today (June 8) announced a $7.5 million donation to non-profit Creative Capital.

Established in 1987 in accordance with Warhol’s will, the Warhol Foundation focuses on advancing the arts and preserving the late artist’s work. It also helped establish Creative Capital nearly 25 years ago, leading a fund-raising effort to create a new grant-making organization focused on artists after the termination of the individual grants program at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The foundation’s five-year commitment will support Creative Capital’s goals of supporting individuals in the art world. Since its founding in 1999, the non-profit has given out more than $55 million to more than 900 artists. “Creative Capital puts artists and innovation first,” said Joel Wachs, president of the Warhol Foundation, in a statement.

Creative Capital also focuses on defending freedom of expression, according to the foundation. The Warhol Foundation itself is actively involved in copyright debates within the art world.  It recently lost a Supreme Court case in May over a photographer’s portrait of Prince used by Warhol in his work, a decision that could see tightened restrictions on interpretations of the fair-use doctrine and freedom of expression.

“This vital gift from the Warhol Foundation bolsters freedom of expression by enabling more diverse artists’ dreams to be realized and strengthens Creative Capital’s unique grassroots infrastructure to serve the most radical creators of our time,” said Creative Capital director Christine Kuan in a statement.

Revelations on Bloomberg’s support for the arts

Meanwhile, the New York Times yesterday (June 7) revealed that media tycoon and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $130 million towards the Perelman Performing Arts Center, which is to open this September at Manhattan’s World Trade Center site.

He has now given more money towards the center than the $75 million donated by Ronald Perelman himself, the business billionaire for whom the building is named. The performing arts center is set to announce its first season later this month on June 14.

Bloomberg also donated a total of $130 million to the Shed, a cultural center in Hudson Yards, as of 2023, according to the New York Times. The center opened in 2019 after a $550 million fundraising campaign which saw $75 million donated by Bloomberg.

The philanthropist has long shown an interest in artwork and cultural institutions. His own extensive collection includes works from Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Henry Moore. The media billionaire has also been chairman of London’s Serpentine Galleries since 2014.

Recently pledging to donate his eponymous company to philanthropy, Bloomberg is an active proponent of local arts funding. In 2014 he launched the Public Art Challenge, giving out up to $1 million in grants for public art projects. Three years prior, his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies joined a conglomerate that donated $11.5 million in funding to art projects across the country.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has additionally given millions to museums like the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago in order to support technological developments.

Keep an eye out for donations from Buffett

Warren Buffett, another billionaire who has pledged to give away the majority of his net worth, is set to make his annual donations in the coming weeks.

The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) CEO first announced his intention to donate the bulk of his fortune in 2006. He has since made yearly payments to five foundations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a non-profit formed by Buffett and re-named in honor of his late wife Susan Buffett. The remaining three foundations are run by Buffett’s children Howard, Susan and Peter.

Buffett’s donations are given in the form of Berkshire Hathaway B shares, with each foundation receiving five percent less stock each year. His 2023 donations, which are expected to occur in June or July, should total around $4.5 billion.

Buffett’s donations are expected to occur in June or July. Although a link discussing his 2006 pledges has recently been removed from the Berkshire Hathaway website, Debbie Bosanek, Buffett’s assistant, confirmed that the pledges are still applicable. “We take things down from our website occasionally,” she told Observer in an statement.

While the business magnate left the board of the Bill and Melinda Foundation in 2021 after 15 years as a trustee, Buffett clarified that he remains in good standing with the organization. “My goals are 100 percent in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals,” he said in a 2021 letter discussing his annual donations.

He has also historically been one of the loudest advocates for charitable donations from the wealthy, co-founding the Giving Pledge in 2010 alongside Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. The campaign, which has amassed 241 signees, urges billionaires to donate at least half their wealth to charity. “Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner,” said Buffet in his pledge letter.

Bloomberg, Buffett and Warhol Make Major Donations