…just as nasty billionaires, in a beautiful synergy, need the, uh, colonic properties of universities.
Bernie and his comrade in trade Ezra Merkin were madly generous, madly esteemed trustees of Yeshiva University. That pious institution made them look pure as the driven snow, preoccupied with things of the mind, things of the spirit; and Bernie and Ezra for obvious reasons valued this look highly.
Yeshiva continues to confer sweetness and light upon the likes of Ira Rennert and Zygi Wilf; and in this it resembles many other American universities, whose buildings and scholarships and professorships bear some seriously nasty names.
Here’s one. Much-esteemed University of Pennsylvania benefactor Howard Marks is an investor who writes judicious memos about how “markets make mistakes and the greatest market mistakes are driven by emotion – [like] too much greed…”
Marks himself owns but has never lived in a 22,000-square-foot Manhattan apartment which among many other things contains “30 rooms, six terraces, two dozen closets, two chefs kitchens, [and] two libraries.” It sits there on Park Avenue, completely empty, year after year. Like the California venture capitalist who got hold of a long-public beach only in order to post armed guards there to keep anyone from using it, Howard Marks has been driven by some emotion or other to dispense $52 million in order to spend years and years loudly, daily, breaking down the walls of two floors of dead space.
His downstairs neighbors have had enough and are suing. They point out that he’s been breaking building construction rules involving noise levels and hours of work per day for years, and ignoring their pleas that he stop. He has made their lives hell. Not only does he not give a shit; his lawyers are fighting the neighbors tooth and nail.
U Penn gets all excited and writes of Marks as if he’s a god because he gives a few hundred thousand to some of their writing programs, while their benefactor directs his real money to this twisted nihilistic project characterized by vacancy, aggression, and stunning waste.