Philanthropist Must Repay $625m to Madoff Victims

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December 7, 2010; Source: Boston Globe | Boston philanthropist, Carl Shapiro was ordered Tuesday to repay $625 million of the $1 billion it is estimated he made through investments with Bernie Madoff. The 97-year-old Shapiro has a high profile in Boston because he and his wife contributed to many large cultural, educational, and medical institutions in the area. Their names are omnipresent on wings and walls.

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation however funds many smaller grassroots organizations like Artists for Humanity, the Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses, and the Food Project. In 2009, the foundation, which had lost $145 million to the Ponzi scheme, suspended all new grantmaking activities. However, in the face of this difficult circumstance, it made two commitments to its grantees: 1) It would continue to pay on all current grant agreements; and 2) It would undertake special efforts to reach out to its community-based grantees to offer support “beyond the grant.”

While the high profile Shapiros and their generous gifts will be missed, development officers are sanguine about the end of this era. Members of Boston’s nonprofit community have had time, of course, to look elsewhere and make new plans.

Shapiro was and is under special scrutiny by investigators because he was a close friend and early investor with Madoff. Shapiro claims to have had no knowledge of the scheme.—Ruth McCambridge