amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

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American Foundation for AIDS Research
Abbreviation amfAR
Formation September 1983 (1983-09)
Merger of AIDS Medical Foundation
National AIDS Research Foundation
Legal status Research charity
Focus AIDS Research
Headquarters New York, NY
Coordinates 40°42′17″N 74°00′22″W / 40.704772°N 74.006174°W / 40.704772; -74.006174Coordinates: 40°42′17″N 74°00′22″W / 40.704772°N 74.006174°W / 40.704772; -74.006174
Kenneth Cole[2]
Kevin Frost[2]
Kenneth Cole (Chairman of the Board)
T. Ryan Greenawalt (Vice Chairman)
Bill Roedy (Vice Chairman)
John C. Simons (Treasurer)
Kevin McClatchy (Secretary)
Main organ
Board of Trustees
Increase$46,610,198 (2015)[3]
Expenses Increase$37,881,923 (2015)[3]
Endowment $71,251,093 (2015)[3]

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, (AMerican Foundation for Aids Research) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of AIDS-related public policy.


In the early 1980s, a group of researchers and scientists including Mathilde Krim, Ph.D., then a researcher at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, formed an informal study group to investigate the condition that came to be known as AIDS. In 1983, Dr. Krim, Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Michael Callen, and several others launched the New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation. In Los Angeles, Dr. Michael S. Gottlieb and Elizabeth Taylor spearheaded the creation of the National AIDS Research Foundation. The two organizations merged in September 1985 to become american foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). The merged organization was launched with a $250,000 contribution from Rock Hudson shortly before his AIDS-related death in October 1985.[4][5]

In 2005, Mathilde Krim stepped down as founding chair.[6] According to AmFAR, she served as CEO from 1990 through 2004, and is described as the "heart and soul" of the organization.[7]

At a charity event held at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, amfAR raised over $25 million in one night, with help of movie stars, and models, including Uma Thurman, and Karlie Kloss, and Milla Jovovich.[8]

Charity Watch rates Foundation for AIDS Research a "A-" grade.[9]

Charity Navigator rates amfAR a four-star charity.[10]


As an advocate of evidence-based AIDS-related public policy, amfAR works to secure necessary increases in funding for HIV/AIDS research, implement the new national HIV/AIDS strategy, expand access to care and treatment, and protect the civil rights of all people affected by HIV.

Fraud investigation[edit]

On November 2, 2017, The New York Times reported on an investigation of AmFAR for a possible money laundering scheme involving board president Kenneth Cole and Harvey Weinstein.[11][12] Over 60 people have signed a letter demanding Kenneth Cole resign his position at AmFAR, including prominent AIDS activists Peter Staley and Larry Kramer.[13] Since January 2017, six members of AmFAR's board have resigned.[14]

The allegations centered around Weinstein's efforts to fund his 2015 Broadway production of the musical adaptation of Finding Neverland, which ran for 17 months before closing and going on the road. Weinstein had been very helpful to AmfAR in arranging for the stars of films he had produced to attend the organization's annual auction at the Cannes Film Festival, along with other wealthy philanthropists he knew; he also put together lots for attendees to bid on. In 2015 he made an unprecedented request of AmfAR: that the charity split the proceeds of the sale of two of the lots he had donated with the American Repertory Theater (ART), where Finding Neverland had been developed and rehearsed.[14]

AmfAR's management initially refused, citing their longstanding policy against doing so, but Weinstein was persistent. He had apparently donated $2 million to ART on the condition that if he could raise more money from others before June 1, 2015, they would return the contribution. Cole and Weinstein reportedly agreed that ART and AmfAR would split any money from the lots up to $1.2 million evenly, and all money above that amount would be exclusively AmfAR's. Except for a last-second insert attributed to Cole noting that ART would get some of the money from one of the lots, a fashion shoot with Mario Testino, there was nothing else to indicate to bidders where their money was going. Cole told Vanity Fair later that he had always felt bullied by Weinstein, and the insert was a small act of resistance.[14]

The three lots sold for less than a million dollars combined. Weinstein not only insisted that AmFAR give ART the full $600,000 it would have owed them, but that it transfer the money to the theater group before it had even collected payment from the bidders, in order to meet Weinstein's deadline there. He offered to allay legal and financial concerns by contributing the $600,000 to AmFAR for the organization to then similarly transfer to ART, who would then repay Weinstein. Despite the objections of AmfAR's auditor that there was insufficient time to review the legality of the arrangement, the transactions were made by wire transfer late on June 1.[14]

Weinstein then demanded AmFAR repay him immediately instead of waiting for the money for the lots to come in. In early 2016 the organization's board retained an attorney to investigate the transaction, who concluded that Weinstein's failure to disclose all relevant information had exposed AmfAR to material risks to its reputation if the deal had turned out to be illegal. The report divided the board, with several members resigning over what they saw as Cole's failures. After Weinstein found out that some of the people the lawyer talked to had shared information about his rumored history of sexual misconduct, information that became public knowledge in September 2017, Weinstein demanded that board members who had read the report sign non-disclosure agreements, leading to more resignations.[14]

Federal and state prosecutors are reportedly investigating.[14]


External links[edit]