NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the nation's leading educational philanthropies announced that it would close in the coming months, brought down by the alleged financial fraud orchestrated by Bernard Madoff.
Barbara Picower, who along with her husband, Jeffry, established the Picower Foundation in 1989, said in a statement on Friday that the foundation's grant-making would cease "effective immediately" and that it would "close its doors in the coming months."
She wrote in the statement that Madoff's "act of fraud has had a devastating impact on tens and thousands of lives as well as numerous philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organization."
Madoff is accused of swindling investors of $50 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme. He was ordered on Friday to remain in his Manhattan home under 24-hour surveillance and to hire security guards for protection.
The Picower Foundation has given millions to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Human Rights First and the New York Public Library. It also funded diabetes research at Harvard Medical School. It is based in Palm Beach, Fla., and has offices in New York.
The foundation, whose assets were managed by Madoff, said in its 2007 tax return its investment portfolio was valued at nearly $1 billion.
The foundation is by far one of the largest national philanthropic organizations to become mired in the financial mess created by Madoff's alleged scheme.
A smaller foundation, the JEHT Foundation, which supported numerous programs that aimed to reduce levels of incarceration and barriers to voting, announced it would close at the end of January. The foundation's donors had relied on Madoff to manage their funds.
"‘It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,’ Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, told Anthony Weiss and Gabrielle Birkner of The Forward newspaper. ‘There’s going to be fallout from this for years to come.’ The collapse of the investment firm of Bernard Madoff has opened a black hole at the center of the tight knit circles of wealthy Jews who socialize and do business together, and who, year after year, support Jewish causes… ”
Among those apparently taking serious and even financially fatal hits: Yeshiva University in New York; Senator Frank Lautenberg, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, real estate and media mogul Mortimer Zuckerman (“significantly hurt”), GMAC Financial Services chairman J. Ezra Merkin (who ran a hedge fund, Ascot Partners, which reinvested many charities’ funds with Madoff), the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, Jeff Katzenberg, the Boston-based Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation (which has closed its doors), Eliot Spitzer’s family, the Chais Family Foundation, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation, Hadassah (the Women’s Zionist Organization of America), the United Jewish Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington , the Los Angeles’ Jewish Community Foundation’s $238 million Common Investment Pool, the American Jewish Congress, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, a co-founder of money manager Access International, was found dead on the 22nd floor of a New York City office building, officials said.
He slit both wrists with box cutters, and appeared to bleed to death, according to a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He may have also taken sleeping pills after staying late in the office on Monday night, the source said, who added that there was no suicide note.
Villehuchet had been trying to recover some of the funds lost to Madoff, Paris newspaper La Tribune reported on its website, citing a person close to Villehuchet. That source also told the newspaper Villehuchet killed himself.
"For the past week, he had been searching day and night for a way to recover the funds of his investors, through actions in the U.S. against some American parties. ...........