A table to go to the Robinhood Party at the Javits Center this coming Monday costs a minimum of $30,000.
When times were insanely good my goal every year was to get two $30,000 tables or one $100,000 table. Now that times are much more challenging and my horizons for getting involved are much broader a single $30000 table is my limit.
A famous young Broadway star, Athena Ripka, has joined our group and it was my feeling that having her equally famous, distinguished father, Alan Ripka, join us would be great. But the other nine guests besides myself at the table had already been selected including my daughter, Abigail, and her friend who are VERY excited because Lady Gaga is performing!!! And, of course, they cant wait to get an autograph from Athena!
So a phone call was made asking if we could squeeze 11 people into our group.
And the immediate answer back was that the event was sold out 2 months ago and that it would be impossible! There just was no more room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
TWO months ago? In a recession? This to a guy who has been supporting this charity for 10 years??? Am I not "important" enough to get an extra seat at my table which I would have been happy to pay for!!!!
And for very good reason.
Robinhood gets the job done for children under the poverty line in NYC and rich guys want to get involved. It has truly become an exclusive club for the geniuses that spin money in this amazing city of ours. So there is little room for a fat, old, poor art dealer to fit it. Only a very few other charities spend money as effectively as the team at Robinhood. They are getting the job done and they are doing it incredibly well. Only HEAF has impressed me as much over the years. Dan Rose invented that organization and there is little doubt that he is the supreme master at figuring out how to motivate and fulfill our disadvantaged young.
The fact of the matter is that getting involved with the really great charities in this country is actually going to be something that will become exclusive. There will be TOO much money out there to help the truly amazing institutions that really make a difference.
Men between the ages of 50 to 80 - the baby boomers as they are called - will realize that making money was just a game and that the dollars they have are just a construct of the imagination and whim of the President of the United States and his Secretary of Treasury. Holding on to dollars is going to appear to be an increasingly ridiculous form of stupidity. Hopefully not as bad as Germany 1933-1934 but maybe.
My prediction is that a flood of this "so called" store of value will be given away with abandon by people who have been able to accumulate an excessive hoard. As they realize this, they will do whatever it takes to give their money away as quickly as possible. They will want passionately to make the precious country they live in even better.
So the prediction for today is that being seriously involved with a great charity will become increasingly more difficult and exclusive. It will actually be HARD to give money away WELL. People will find that it will be as difficult as getting into an exclusive club or as difficult as buying an extraordinary work of art!
In my sector of the business world, it has been fun to watch Sothebys clearly see this trend over the years and lead the way. It has been their example that has inspired. me. And it has been sad to see how amazingly stingy my fellow art dealers have been at the same time. As they are being crushed underfoot by the auction houses, they are blind to the reason WHY. And the reason WHY is that selfish people are repulsive. All of my efforts to inspire them to get involved have resulted in failure except for my friend, Mike Frost, of Bartfield Galleries.
When my giving started 40 years ago, there is no question that the purpose was to gain and keep the favor of my clients by supporting their charities. And, yes, it is true that every dollar given away resulted in a return of 400% almost without fail. Since my father had been giving money away all his life for entirely altruistic reasons, it was easy for me to figure out what institutions were most important in Philadelphia where we lived. He was on almost every board!
But over time helping others becomes a wonderful infection. Now it consumes me especially as it is clear that the dollar is being devalued right before my eyes at a pace that is shocking.
So the message is - get involved with helping others NOW. It you dont you will find that you will have an increasingly difficult time joining up with the most effective organizations. Your life will be empty as you realize that the dollars you have are not wanted by anyone truly capable of spending them well for you.
This will happen.
What a fool you will feel yourself to be!!!!!