According to a story published by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Bard College president Leon Botstein got $150,000 in consultancy fees in 2016 from a fund established by disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who is suspected of sexually assaulting adolescent females.
Dr. Botstein verified the payment from the organisation, Gratitude America, and claimed he donated all of it to the university as part of a $1 million contribution he delivered the same year in a short interview with The New York Times.
Dr. Botstein, who is 76 years old, claimed he contributed the balance of the money to the university from his own savings and income. Since 1975, he has served as president of Bard College, where he earned nearly $400,000 last year.
Besides an unexpected $75,000 contribution and 66 computers, Dr. Botstein had earlier said that Mr. Epstein had not contributed anything to Bard.
Dr. Botstein told The Times on Wednesday that he did not mention the foundation’s funding during an interview earlier this month because he was unaware of its existence. He said that Mr. Epstein’s signature was not on file because “the contract was signed by someone else.” He said that he had forgotten about the 2016 payments until The Wall Street Journal prompted him to investigate.
According to a statement released by the college, Dr. Botstein donated the $150,000 as part of his “annual 2016 gift to Bard, along with personal savings and the rest of his non-Bard income from honoraria and outside conducting fees, a practise he has maintained for many years.”
Whether or whether the Bard College board knew about this payment is unknown. We were unable to get in touch with board chairman James Chambers or any of the other trustees.
This payment is the most recent bombshell that reveals the extent to which Mr. Epstein bought favours. Mr. Epstein was a generous donor, supporting a wide range of organisations and institutions including Harvard and M.I.T.
The Wall Street Journal published an article last month detailing Mr. Epstein’s extensive network, which included eminent individuals such as linguist Noam Chomsky and ex-Treasury secretary and Harvard president Lawrence Summers. Dr. Summers wanted to raise funds for a poetry foundation he and his wife, Elisa New, a professor of literature at Harvard, would administer.
Over the course of many years, Dr. Botstein relentlessly pursued Mr. Epstein by paying several visits to his Upper East Side apartment. Dr. Botstein said that the visits were purely financial in nature, since Bard is a liberal arts university that relies significantly on donations from the affluent.
However, in a statement released on Wednesday, the institution noted that Mr. Epstein showed an interest in Bard’s music programmes and brought Dr. Botstein, a conductor, to Gratitude America’s advisory group of specialists.
According to the statement, Richard Kahn, the president of the foundation and a longstanding adviser to Mr. Epstein and administrator of his estate, requested Dr. Botstein to serve as a music consultant on the organisation’s advisory board for a one-year term. The phone numbers and email address linked with Mr. Kahn were left with no response.
The statement from Bard University continued, “Had the extent and horror of Epstein’s crimes been known, Bard would not have accepted his support.”