From Development server
9 September 2021

Alberto Vilar, 80, Disgraced Financier Who Once Pledged Extraordinary Sums to Arts Organizations, has Died


ONE OF THE HIGHEST-PROFILE DONORS in the history of the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival and several other cultural institutions, Vilar was the cofounder of Amerindo Investment Advisors, a firm that focused on biotechnology and technology stocks. Vilar, whose net worth was once estimated at one billion dollars by Forbes magazine, used the fortune he earned to make generous pledges to the arts organizations he favored. In an August 2001 interview with Rudolph S. Rauch in OPERA NEWS, “The Man Who Would Be Thanked,” Vilar said he was the largest donor to fourteen of the fifteen arts organizations he supported internationally, and also claimed, “I do as much [philanthropy] in education and health care as I do in music, but music gets the spotlight, which I am happy about, because I am happy to support the arts.” 

Vilar’s gifts to the Met in the 1990s and early 2000s totaled more than $11 million; his largesse included funding three new Met productions that featured Cecilia Bartoli, one of his favorite singers—Cosi Fan Tutte (1996), La Cenerentola (1997) and Le Nozze di Figaro (1998)—as well as a new Franco Zeffirelli production of La Traviata (1998); Jurgen Flimm’s staging of Fidelio (2000); the Met premiere of Busoni’s Doktor Faust (2001) and the Met’s 2000 pension fund gala, starring Bryn Terfel.

When the technology market boom ended in the early 2000s, Amerindo’s once-impressive investment returns diminished and Vilar’s personal wealth was decimated. Vilar began to miss payments on his pledges to the Met, the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Opera, Covent Garden and other theaters. In 2005, Vilar was arrested and subsequently indicted on federal fraud and money-laundering charges, centering on the misuse of several of his clients’ funds. In 2008, Vilar was found guilty on all twelve counts he faced and was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was released from prison in 2018. spacer 

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