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Alberto Vilar

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Not sure if this has been posted--I didn't see it in links--so here it is.

More intriging than the Met removing his name from the Grand Tier and the Opera House, the article also details that Placedo Domingo fronted 2 million dollars to cover pledges that Vilar had made to the Washington Opera and the the L. A. Opera, but hasn't heard from Vilar since then.


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I feel sorry for Villar. His heart was definitely in the right place, but his business went belly up and he was caught having to fulfill pledges without funds. Kennedy Center had the right approach to this, keeping silent and respectful. I guess the MET counted its "checkens" before they cashed.

In any case Villar made a splash, forwarded the idea that arts administrators need to be educated and advertised that the arts were as valuable as other causes. All of this received a great amount of press, which brought the arts to the public's attention.

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I'm a little more cynical about Vilar's motives. Not to say that he was not sincerely committed to supporting the arts, but I think his greater motive was self-glorification. (See Selling of ABT thread.)

I worked for a family foundation that supported programs in universities. There were offers to name things (including buildings) in honor of the patriarch, who resisted the offers. Many tens of millions of dollars later some scholarship programs incorporate the name of the foundation, but at his insistence not his own, and one single chair (at the university in his home city), bears his name. It took much cajoling to get him to accept even that honor. This is a model of giving that to me reflects honest generosity.

Gosh, Placido always seemed to be a real mensch. Good to know I was not swayed by his handsome face and gorgeous voice.;) :)

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I think you're right, Maxi 3D. The arts world got carried away like virtually everyone else, and assumed they'd have money that turned out not to be there. Live and learn. (Although I seem to recall that there were questions of the who-is-this-guy-really nature about Vilar from the beginning. I could be mistaken.)

carbro, I agree that the example you've given is indeed a model of the modest, self-effacing philanthropist, but it's a reality of the art world that people often give money in order to bring attention to themselves, see their names on stuff, and climb the social ladder. People will be people, I guess.

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I think I read that the mother of Phoebe Cates (an actress that had a big splash in her teen and early years) brought Vilar's securities fraud to the government's attention. She discovered he was using her money for his own personal use. He was not squeaky clean by any means judging from all the articles I have read. His desire to have his name on everything he paid for did seem like self glorification as Carbro says above. There is no doubt that he had a love of opera and helped a lot of opera companies for a while (and had replicas of the Met's chandeliers made for his huge apartment in NY according to one Opera News article I read years ago), and I remember that period, and it seemed too good to be true. Someone willing to spend millions at multiple opera companies around the world? In my opinion, there was something odd going on, and then it burst like a bubble.

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