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Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Amount donated: In excess of $180m

Philanthropic Causes: Environment, public spaces, art, human rights, education and community building

Region of philanthropic focus: New York, US and international

Ranking: Not known

Net Worth: An estimated $3bn according to Glass Pockets (Fürstenberg $450m and Diller $2.4m according to Forbes)

Source of wealth: Media (Diller) and fashion (Fürstenberg)

New York City power couple Barry Diller and Diane von Fürstenberg, who made their mark in the media and fashion industries respectively, have become a force to reckon with when it comes to philanthropy in the Big Apple.

Diane von Fürstenberg was born in 1946 in Belgium to a Greek mother and Romanian father. Her mother survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, teaching Fürstenberg that “fear is not an option”.

Fürstenberg studied economics at university, but went onto becoming an assistant to a fashion photographer’s agent in Paris after graduation and then worked as an apprentice to  textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti. In 1970 she started designing her own line of women clothes. She said that when she knew she was going to marry Prince Egon of Fürstenberg of the German princely House of Fürstenberg, she decided to have a career as she “wanted to be someone of [her] own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her desserts.”

Consequently Fürstenberg went onto become famous for her knitted jersey wrap dress and in addition to designing clothes launched various other businesses.

In 1972 Fürstenberg divorced her husband after having two children with him, Prince Alexander and Princess Tatiana. In 2001 she married Diller, whom she’d been linked with on and off since the 1970s and they still live in separate NYC  apartments.

Diller was born in 1942, raised in California and attended UCLA, only to drop out after one semester to get a position in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. He  became assistant to Elton Rule, the West coast head and later network President of ABC. Diller followed in his slipstream eventually becoming Vice President of Development. He pioneered the concept of the made-for-television movie. After moving on to become Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, he took up the helm at Fox Inc. then Chairman of Expedia and IAC/InterActiveCorp, the latter the parent company of to Match.com, Citysearch, Vimeo, Dictionary.com and CollegeHumor, to name but a few.

Together Fürstenberg and Diller set up the Diller-von Fürstenberg Family Foundation in 1999, which has supported a number of worthy causes, especially focusing on projects in NYC. The aim of the foundation is to “positively impact the world by improving people’s lives and strengthening communities.” Fürstenberg’s children, Alexander and Tatiana, also serve as directors for the foundation.

In 2015 Diller and von Fürstenberg pledged $130m to help build a floating park in NYC. It was the 7th largest donation in the US that year and an unusually big grant for a park. They also donated $20m to help complete the High Line Park, back in 2011.

Diller has supported the Motion Picture and Television Fund through the foundation, by donating $30m to help provide support and services to active and retired members of the film industry.

In addition, the foundation has helped fund several schools in New York and L.A., as well as supporting arts and culture by helping fund Our Time Theatre, the Whitney Museum, Carnegie Hall, WNET 13, and the Paris Review, amongst other things. The foundation has also supported global organizations for human rights, such as Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, the Naked Heart Foundation and Oxfam America.

The couple joined the giving pledge in 2010, pledging to give away at least $1bn of their fortune.

Sources:

The Diller-von Fürstenberg Family Foundation: http://dvfff.org/directors/

Glass Pockets: http://glasspockets.org/philanthropy-in-focus/eye-on-the-giving-pledge/profiles/diller

Inside Philanthropy: http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/fundraising-in-new-york-city/diller-von-furstenberg-foundation-new-york-city-grants.html

Forbes; America’s Richest Self-Made Women: http://www.forbes.com/profile/diane-von-furstenberg/

CNN; Biggest Charity Billionaire Donations: http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/01/news/biggest-charity-billionaire-donations/

Wikipedia; Diane von Fürstenberg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_von_Fürstenberg

Wikipedia; Barry Diller: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Diller

New York Times; Behind the Scenes at Disney as It Purged a Favorite Son: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/08/business/media/behind-the-scenes-at-disney-as-it-purged-a-favorite-son.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=thumb&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&referer=http:/m.facebook.com&_r=1

Inside Philanthropy; Glitzy Giving, Barry Diller: http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/glitzy-giving/barry-diller.html