Yoko Ono loves to support worthy causes concerning peace, love, and understanding. But she rarely puts money where her mouth is.

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono

Even though Ono is a toweringly wealthy woman thanks to John Lennon‘s estate, in recent years her actual charitable donations have dwindled.

For a long time Ono gave money through her Spirit Foundation. But a look at the most recent tax filing for Spirit shows that she’s slowed down to a trickle.

In 2007, Ono made donations through Spirit totaling $273,000 to a Japanese group that builds classrooms in the Far East and Third World countries ($227,559); Bailey House in New York ($25,000), and London’s National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust ($20,000).

It’s not much money despite the fact that, according to the 2007 tax filing for the Spirit, Ono has $4,225,000 invested for the foundation in T-bills.

The foundation lists $1,170,734 as the fair-market value of all its assets.

A source who knows Ono’s business dealings says, ‘Yoko is very generous. She gives a lot more money than that. For tax reasons, she doesn’t give it all through the Spirit Foundation.’

We’ll take their word for it.

The source also adds that Ono is not as wealthy as she once was, and certainly nowhere near Paul McCartney. ‘John never got to have a big solo career, or tour around the world dozens of times. Paul’s had all that. Even when John was alive he didn’t tour and put out few records.’

The other defense given is that Lennon and McCartney do not control their own publishing. That belongs, famously, to Michael Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. But thanks to a 1927 law, Ono’as Lennon’s heir’receives Jackson’s portion of ownership of the Lennon-McCartney songs, whereas McCartney does not.

Still, the Lennon estate, thanks to the Beatles, is a gold mine. What with the Beatles music continually throwing off revenue from movies like ‘Across the Universe’ and the Las Vegas ‘Love’ show, not to mention this fall’s “Rock Band” release and the re-launch of the whole Beatles catalog, ‘no one,’ says a source ‘will be throwing Yoko a telethon anytime soon.’

But it’s the lack of any real charitable vision that’s surprising. Ono has never found a specific cause with which she could use Lennon’s fortune to help people. Her giving is scattershot, at least through Spirit. In 2006, she gave $10,000 to a local school in Harlem, which was nice. In 2005, she sent a measly $5,000 to the Citizens Advice Bureau in the Bronx to serve meals to the poor in that bureau. She must have been interested in hunger that year since she also sent $100,000 to America’s Second Harvest.

Earlier years’ donations weren’t much better. The Spirit Foundation gave away a rather small amount from 2000 through 2005: a total of $2.6 million.

Oddly, the annual John Lennon Songwriting Contest’the deadline for which is today’is not part of the Spirit. That group, which sends a bus around to rock concerts all summer, is funded by commercial sponsors.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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