Ken Griffin and David Geffen Donate a Record $400M to Memorial Sloan Kettering

The joint gift from the billionares will help the institution meet the growing need for cancer care.

Two of the world’s wealthiest people are teaming up to donate a staggering $400 million to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), a New York-based cancer treatment and research institution. The gift constitutes the largest single donation in its nearly 150-year history.

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Two side by side images of men in suits
Ken Griffin (left) and David Geffen (right). Getty Images

The funds come from billionaires Ken Griffin, head of hedge fund Citadel, and David Geffen, founder of film studio DreamWorks and record labels Asylum Records and DCG Records. “The team at MSK gives the patients who are enduring cancer hope, dignity and compassion in their care,” said Griffin while announcing the donation yesterday (Dec. 12) on ABC’s Good Morning America. “We know that cancer is more than just a disease, it’s a moment of incredible emotional challenge.”

Between 2015 and 2020, the number of Americans with cancer is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent as the population ages, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To address the expanding field of cancer care, MSK’s historic donation will be funneled towards the institution’s clinical services, prevention and surveillance programs along with technology development.

“This extraordinary gift will support MSK’s physicians and scientists as they make life-changing discoveries that will lead to new cancer therapies and improved treatments, not only for our own patients but for people across the globe,” said Scott Stuart, chair of MSK’s board of trustees, in a statement. This won’t be the first time philanthropy has played a significant role in innovation and enterprise at MSK. Financial contributions supported the institution’s involvement in the development of the first chemotherapy drugs, immune-based treatments and targeted therapies against cancer.

Benefactors in the fields of education, medicine and art

Both Griffin and Geffen, who have respective fortunes of $36.4 billion and $8.1 billion, have dedicated much of their net worth to philanthropic causes. The Citadel CEO has donated upwards of $2 billion to charity over his lifetime, with recent donations of a $300 million gift to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in April and $25 million given to a Miami-based children’s hospital at the start of this year.

Geffen, meanwhile, has doled out at least $1.2 billion as of 2022. Having pledged to give the majority of his wealth to charity, significant donations from the entertainment tycoon include $150 million to the Yale School of Drama in 2021, $100 million to the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts in 2015 and $200 million to the medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002.

The duo also supported the Museum of Modern Art when it raised funds for its 2019 expansion, with Griffin giving $40 million to the institution in 2015 and Geffen donating $100 million the following year. Both billionaires are avid art patrons and collectors. In 2016, Griffin paid $500 million to purchase a Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock painting from Geffen. A decade earlier, the hedge fund founder shelled out $80 million to acquire one of Geffen’s Jasper Johns paintings.

Despite crossing paths in the art world, the gift to MSK marks the first time Griffin and Geffen have formally partnered on a philanthropic cause. “It’s our sincere hope that this combined gift will inspire others and enable MSK to continue to build on its reputation as one of the top cancer care providers and research centers in the world,” said Geffen in a statement.

Ken Griffin and David Geffen Donate a Record $400M to Memorial Sloan Kettering