Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Billionaire David Geffen

Less than 48 hours after publishing this post, I learned that Geffen and Lingvall have announced a split. Maybe Geffen should consider a reconciliation with Cher - she has no problem hanging with the boys. Here's the report:

After six years of a life he could only dream of, former California college student Jeremy Lingvall (28) has split from his partner, billionaire media mogul David Geffen. The pair have parted ways because ‘the relationship had simply run its course’, the New York Post reported. A  source also claimed that there was ‘nobody else involved’.”

During their relationship Lingvall accompanied Geffen everywhere, even to the White House. Jeremy attended dozens of A-list celebrity parties he would have never have had access to on his own. But with no civil partnership or other property arrangement, Lingvall will not be entitled to any of Geffen’s riches now that they have split. Lingvall and Geffen began a relationship the year Jeremy graduated from college, 2006. I suppose Lingvall will have to dust off his resume and beef up his gigs as a DJ, often in partnership with Scissor Sisters’ front man Jake Shears; they call themselves Krystal Pepsy. I’m not kidding. So read my original post with those facts in mind: 

I try to avoid posting snarky stuff, but I am possessed of demons this morning.

Billionaires love their flashy toys, and David Geffen (born 1943) is no exception. He has a weakness for boy toys and heart-stoppingly expensive yachts. He owns Pelorus+, a 377-ft. $300 million trinket with two helicopter pads and its own submarine (annual operating costs top $10 million - I'm not kidding). At 453 feet, the mega-yacht Rising Sun++ is 76 feet longer, making it the eight largest yacht in the world. It has a basketball court and 82 rooms spread over 5 stories. It's so long that it can't dock at most ports, because it exceeds their size limits. I’m not making this stuff up. Why settle for one yacht, when you really need two?

I think exactly the same way.

He also collects art, especially paintings by American artists. In 2006 he sold Jackson Pollock's  painting No. 5, 1948 (above) from his collection for $140 million. The sale made No. 5, 1948 the most expensive painting ever sold, outstripping the $134 million paid a month earlier by cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder for Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I**. No. 5, 1948 was originally owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr. and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

President Obama meets Geffen's boy toy (above).

Geffen’s super hot 28-year old partner Jeremy Lingvall (born 1983, but perhaps a bit long in the tooth for true "boy toy" status), who graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2006 (!), attended the Obama’s first White House state dinner* (in honor of Indian prime minister Singh) on Geffen’s arm – well, not literally. And Lingvall didn’t have to lie about having a college degree. I should point out that Geffen is 68 years old, and if my math is correct, that makes him 40 years older than Lingvall (below, aboard one of Geffen's yachts, Rising Sun). I know, I know. But the man can afford it.

It doesn’t get any gayer than this: Imagine what Lingvall must think when recalling the fact that Geffen, his current sugar daddy, was gay icon Cher’s boyfriend for two years in the mid 1970s, ten years before he was born! Cher reported that, "People don't believe that, or they don't want to believe it, or they don't understand how it could be. But we were really crazy about each other."

Geffen and Cher in 1974 (left). Geffen's first move was to free the singer from her onerous business arrangement with estranged husband Sonny Bono, under which she was required to work exclusively for Cher Enterprises, which Bono controlled. Cher had no vote in decisions, even though she was the much bigger star. Geffen called the contract "slave labor." In short order, he had her quit The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. She separated from Bono and in time for the Grammys had a butterfly tattooed on her posterior to celebrate her emancipation.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In spite of Geffen’s over-the-top acquisitions of both metal and flesh varieties, we can’t lose sight of his equally over-the-top philanthropy. He is a major supporter of medical research, AIDS organizations and the arts. In 2002 he gave a staggering $200 million unrestricted endowment to the UCLA School of Medicine. In 1995 he donated $5 million to UCLA's Westwood Playhouse.

Geffen is a self-made billionaire in the music and entertainment industry – by most accounts worth just under $5 billion (that's 5,000 million dollars - think about it). Geffen dropped out of several colleges and started working in the mailroom at the William Morris Talent Agency, where he forged a document in order to prove he had a college degree, a requirement for a promotion he was offered. He went on to found record and movie production companies and sign major talent (Dreamworks SKG, Geffen Records, Asylum Records, etc.). Geffen is an openly gay man named by Out Magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America, and he is listed by Forbes as one of the top 100 billionaires. And, if we dig down really deep and admit the truth, those of us who smirk and poke fun at Mr. Geffen do so because we’re really envious.

*Also in attendance at the 2009 state dinner were Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and partner Sean Eldridge, chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank Fred Hochberg and partner Thomas Healy, as well as activist Urvashi Vaid and her partner Kate Clinton. It is noteworthy that Geffen, a generous and dedicated Democrat, was seated at the Obama table, immediately to Michelle’s left. The times, they are a changin’.

**Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is on permanent display at the Neue Galerie in NYC, on the corner of Fifth Ave. at 86th St. Don’t miss the street level restaurant to the right of the entrance, the Viennese Cafe Sabarsky; it’s my favorite spot in NYC for breakfast (opening at a civilized 9:00 a.m.).

Pelorus, a 377 ft., $300 million accessory, overhanging the dock a bit:

Rising Sun, with rear basketball court:

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