|Born||Stephen Leo Bing
March 31, 1965
|Alma mater||Stanford University (dropped out)|
|Occupation||Businessman, film producer|
|Relatives||Leo S. Bing (grandfather)|
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
Stephen Leo "Steve" Bing (born March 31, 1965) is an American businessman, film producer, and donor to progressive causes. He is the founder of the Shangri-La business group, an organization with interests in property, construction, entertainment, and music.
His parents are Helen, a nurse, and Peter Bing, a doctor in public health. At the age of 18, Bing inherited an estimated $600 million from his grandfather, Leo S. Bing, who had made his fortune in New York real estate in the 1920s. The Los Angeles Business Journal's January 2010 publication of "The Lists 2010" listed him in their "Wealthiest Angelenos" section of the magazine, which estimated his worth at $590 million, coming in at No. 46.
Bing attended the elite Los Angeles Harvard-Westlake private school. Before graduation, he had written (with veteran sitcom writer Arthur Silver) his first screenplay, "Missing in Action." It became a Chuck Norris film that had a sequel. Bing dropped out of Stanford University in his junior year to pursue a career in Hollywood.
Bing has enjoyed success in filmmaking, though his directorial debut, Every Breath, went straight to video. His other, more notable projects include writing Kangaroo Jack and producing Get Carter. Bing reportedly invested $80 million in The Polar Express, an animated film featuring the voice of Tom Hanks, which earned $285 million globally and was one of the year's top box office successes.
Bing also financed and produced the independently released Jerry Lee Lewis album, Last Man Standing, pulling together performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, B.B. King, and Kid Rock to play alongside "The Killer."
Bing is among the nation's leading donors to environmental causes. According to filings of public campaign contributions, the Democratic Party has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of his wealth.
Beginning with a $500 contribution in 1993 to support Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in his bid for re-election, Bing has contributed more than $10.7 million at the federal level to the Democratic Party and its candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The biggest checks were written in 2002 when he gave a total of $8.2 million to the Democratic National Committee. But he also has given to specific candidates, including Al Gore, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein.
Bing was reported to have given at least $49.5 million during the 2006 election cycle in support of Proposition 87, a California initiative which sought to raise $4 billion in oil production taxes to help develop alternative fuels. Bing also supported several key races in other parts of the country as Democrats fought to win back control of Congress. They included Democratic challenger Bob Casey, Jr. in Pennsylvania, who unseated conservative GOP incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum, and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, a Democratic Congressional hopeful and an Army National Guard major who lost her legs in Iraq two years ago, who went on to lose to State Sen. Peter Roskam.
Excluding Prop. 87 contributions, in California Bing has written $7.8 million worth of checks since 2000, according to the California secretary of state. He spent $4.25 million in 2005 in a successful effort to defeat Prop. 77, a redistricting initiative sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other beneficiaries include the California Democratic Party ($640,172); Gov. Gray Davis ($675,000); and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose campaign received $750 in 2004.
In October 2008, Stephen Bing pledged to match donations made to the NO on Proposition 8 campaign from October 17–19.
On August 5, 2009, a 737 private aircraft owned by Stephen Bing and based out of hangar 25 at the Burbank airport in Southern California, was utilized in the return of American reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee who had spent 5 months of a 12-year sentence in North Korea. Former President Bill Clinton was instrumental in their return, and accompanied the reporters on board Stephen Bing's plane. Bing reportedly covered the cost of the entire flight, estimated to be around $200,000.
Bing has attracted attention for being involved in high-profile lawsuits.
In 2001, he became British tabloid fodder after actress, model, and Estee Lauder spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley announced she was pregnant and claimed Bing was the father of the baby. Bing denied he was the father and claimed they did not have an "exclusive" relationship. A DNA test proved that Bing was indeed the father. His son Damian Charles Hurley was born on April 4, 2002 and it is not known whether he has any relationship with his son. Damian's godfathers include Hurley's long-time ex-boyfriend Hugh Grant, Elton John, and actor Denis Leary. Hurley married Arun Nayar in 2007. London's Daily Mail said that Hurley and her friends referred to Bing as "Bing Laden".
Separately but also in 2001, Bing's name appeared in the news when he sued billionaire Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy. Bing alleged that Kerkorian's private investigators took Bing's dental floss out of his trash to collect his DNA. At the time, Kerkorian was in a legal fight with his ex-wife Lisa Bonder, a former professional tennis player, over the amount of child support he would pay, with the billionaire reportedly suspecting Bing (a previous boyfriend) to be the father of Kira. After Bing was proved by DNA test to be the father of Bonder's child, Bing and Kerkorian settled their dispute out of court.
The paternity of Bonder's daughter was revealed thanks to the efforts of Anthony Pellicano, a Los Angeles private investigator (and wiretapper) hired by Kerkorian's lawyer, and also a "friend" to Bing. According to an FBI summary, Pellicano sometimes played Hollywood clients against each other, at one point asking financier (and Bing friend) Ron Burkle for a $100,000 to $250,000 shakedown in order not to be investigated by Michael Ovitz, another Pellicano client. In a twist to the case, The New York Times reported payments of $335,000 by Bing to Pellicano between June 2000 and August 2002. According to excerpts of recorded calls, Pellicano bragged to Kerkorian's lawyer in April and May 2002 that he was "working for" and "consulting for" Bing in matters related to Elizabeth Hurley and her son's disputed paternity, which was then in the news. A lawyer for Bing, Martin Singer, called Pellicano's statement regarding Hurley "an absolute lie." (The Daily Mail reportedly paid a "substantial" settlement to Bing in 2003 after Pellicano's sworn statement that he had "never been engaged by Mr. Bing nor his attorney Mr. Martin Singer to investigate anyone on Mr. Bing's behalf, including Ms. Hurley.") Following two trials in 2008 in which Bing did not testify, Pellicano was convicted of 78 counts of wiretapping, racketeering, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered, with Terry N. Christensen, to forfeit $2 million.
- Contributor Information to the William J. Clinton Foundation
- Landler, Mark (August 5, 2009). "After Clinton Trip, U.S. Studies Signals From N. Korea". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
- Halbfinger, David M. (January 11, 2007). "Lawyer Gave Information To Kerkorian". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
- Gardner, David (June 16, 2002). "Lawyer Gave Information To Kerkorian". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
- Halbfinger, David M. (April 20, 2006). "Billionaire Reports a Shakedown in Hollywood". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
- Halbfinger, David M. (April 12, 2007). "Hollywood Evidence Raises Questions". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
- Barnes, Brooks (August 29, 2008). "Pellicano and a Lawyer Convicted in Wiretapping". New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
- Barnes, Brooks (December 15, 2008). "15 Years for Hollywood Investigator". Associated Press. Retrieved December 15, 2008.