Heal the world ... make it a better place. That's what philanthropists from across the country came to the Big Apple to discuss earlier this month – a "secret meeting" kept off the radar of the American public until now.
Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among other billionaires and media moguls, joined hands and came to New York on May 5 to talk about how they could pool their big bucks and help bust charities out of the vices of the economic recession, according to ABC News.com.
Sitting at a long table in a private room with majestic windows providing them an open view of the East River that only dilettantes can afford, some of the world's richest spoke in hush-hush tones that have ignited speculation about conspiracy theories and the like. The invitees told ABC News.com the clandestine gathering was "100 percent about philanthropy."
"I meet periodically with my friends who are philanthropic," Bloomberg said Wednesday. "All my friends are philanthropic, or they probably wouldn't be my friends. Nothing wrong with them, but I probably wouldn't have much in common with them."
Another attendee told ABC News.com that "it was a private gathering of friends and colleagues to share their history and excitement about their philanthropy. [It was] a group together discussing a range of things they are working on."
The high-profile event begs further questions, however. How could such an elitist assembly escape media attention? Surely someone's secretary would have talked? Or did the billionaires bag their staffs and go plan it all by themselves? We'll likely never know.
"Any time I have a meeting that's not on the public schedule, it's not going to be on the public schedule," Bloomberg said.
But their intentions do appear noble. Chronicle of Philanthropy Editor-in-Chief said the head philanthropy honchos likely met up to take global charity in a new direction. She called the meeting "extraordinary" and "unusual," according to ABC News.com. The Web site reports the furtive fiesta to be similar to those of the early 20th century in which America's wealthiest citizens camped out at JP Morgan to talk about how private people (aka the richest of the rich) could bring a halt to the fiscal frenzy that was stifling the nation.
Bloomberg urged everyone, not just rich folks, to get in the spirit, saying contributions aren't always about the money.
"There are a lot of people who don't have a lot of money to give away, but they have talents and time," he said.
The covert op, which initially was reported by IrishCentral.com, apparently was the brains of the biggest billionaires in the operation – Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Convening at the home of Rockefeller University's president on Manhattan med school's campus, each benefactor got 15 minutes to present ideas on how to help nonprofits, which have been hurting for donations amid sluggish markets. It's not clear what, if any, tangible plan came out of the meeting.
Combined, the attendees have devoted more than $70 billion to charity in the last 13 years, cites ABC News.com, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.