Some bad billionaires are trying like crazy to reform themselves in public.
Next week, Steve Cohen, who paid the government $1.8 billion in fines a few years ago for fraud, will sponsor the Love Rocks concert live streaming from the Beacon Theater in New York. This is the annual fundraiser for God’s Love We Deliver. In March 2020, Jackson Browne, Paul Shaffer, and musician Larry Campbell were among those who got COVID backstage at the Beacon.
Love Rocks has been sponsored in the past by designer John Varvatos. But his name is missing from this year’s press. In his place is Cohen and his wife Alexandra’s foundation. Cohen now owns the NY Mets, part of his effort to clean up his reputation as a financial predator. Bobby Axelrod, the borderline criminal financial mastermind of the TV show “Billions” is said to be at least partly inspired by him.
The Cohens, by the way, are huge Republican donors, massive financial supporters of Donald Trump and Chris Christie.
Then, the next week, James Murdoch’s Tribeca Festival begins. This used to be the Tribeca Film Festival. But since Murdoch bought it, they’ve dropped the “Film” part. They also dropped the Tribeca Film Institute. Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal are still the faces of the Festival, but Murdoch, who’s trying to position himself as the Good Son of Rupert Murdoch, is the main investor through his family fund, Lupa Systems.
James Murdoch wants us to believe he deplores Fox News and the NY Post, and he’s really a cool guy who’s just using the billions his father made from decades of tabloid trash for good. But let’s not forget it was James who was the engineer of the British press hacking scandal of only a few short years ago. He is very much dad’s boy.
In September 2012, James was criticised by the British Office of Communications which concluded that he “repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of as a chief executive and chairman” and that his lack of action in relation to phone hacking was “difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.”
Can these two billionaires sanitize their reps with these big public causes? That remains to be seen. They’re counting on the public now associating them with being do-gooders. Whether that works, the jury is out.