Harvey Weinstein’s malicious web of deceit spreads far wider than any of us could have possibly imagined. The disgraced former film executive is now said to have taken $600,000 of donations from an amfAR AIDS benefit gala to pay off a debt he owed to the American Repertory Theater, according to an explosive new report by The Huffington Post.
Weinstein had invested in the ART’s production of the musical Finding Neverland, and, as a condition of investment, the theater “would reimburse Weinstein and other show investors for money they put into the trial run, provided the investors got third parties to donate the amounts.”
So Weinstein owed $600K to ART, and needed to have the funds in their acconut by June 1, 2015 or the money would not come back to him.
Enter the amfAR gala, which Weinstein agreed to help procure prizes and A-list guests for in exchange for taking half of the proceeds to give to the ART. He made this deal with the gala’s non-executive chairman Kenneth Cole. They had decided to split the proceeds of the benefit 50/50.
Each of the prizes donated were free: Weinstein procured a “Hollywood experience” package, with tickets to an Oscars party, as well as a photo session with Mario Testino. They raised $909,669 – instead of splitting that down the middle, though, Weinstein still took $600K, well over half – to pay off the ART. But since the money from the auction had yet to be collected from those who’d purchased the gifts, Weinstein had to wire amfAR $600K from his own personal account on the condition amfAR pay ART by June 1.
An email from amfAR CEO Kevin Frost explains the organization’s misgivings with the Weinstein deal:
“I’m going on record on here to express my concerns about this whole process. I have expressed to Kenneth [Cole] that I don’t believe amfAR should execute this transfer of funds prior to hearing a judgement from our auditors. Nothing about this deal feels right to me and I believe we have not done due diligence to understand exactly what this money is being directed to or why amfAR is being used to facilitate these transfers. Kenneth has heard my concerns and despite that is directing amfAR to execute this transfer to ART in fulfillment of an agreement he made with Harvey Weinstein.”
When an investigation began into Weinstein and Cole’s proceedings through this transaction, Weinstein reportedly offered to make a $1 million dollar donation to amfAR over the course of five years on the condition each board member sign a nondisclosure agreement.