Mr. Weinstein, who is a longtime supporter of the AIDS organization and was a chairman of the 2015 event, said that he had done nothing wrong and that everyone benefited from the arrangement, which raised $309,669 for amfAR. “I honestly thought we were doing something fantastic for both sides,” he said in an interview. “We get money, they get money, and it’s all our money.”
Gibson, Dunn & Cutcher, a law firm hired by the amfAR board, reviewed the $600,000 transaction and determined that it was legitimate and lawful.
But a lawyer who first investigated the way the arrangement was handled concluded that it put the charity’s financial integrity at risk, according to several people who reviewed his confidential report, which was commissioned by amfAR.
And in a June 2015 email to the charity’s chief financial officer, its chief executive, Kevin Frost, expressed concern: “Nothing about this deal feels right to me, and I believe we have not done due diligence to understand exactly what this money is being directed to or why amfAR is being used to facilitate these transfers.”
In April of this year, four members of the 19-person board complained to the attorney general’s office. They said that Kenneth Cole, the fashion designer and board chairman, had signed off on the $600,000 transfer “despite the clear objections of the executive management team,” said their spokesman, Steven Goldberg. They say board members were never informed that the auction proceeds would help cover the “Finding Neverland” investors’ costs.
Mr. Cole said that he welcomed an arrangement that would bring in money for the AIDS cause and that executive staff had signed off on it. He said that he did not recall Mr. Weinstein telling him it would serve a business deal with the American Repertory Theatre, but that he was satisfied knowing the $600,000 was going to a credible nonprofit.
“This wasn’t just a man on the street asking — it was someone who has raised a lot of money for us,” Mr. Cole said in an interview. “One tends to address requests based on whom they’re coming from.”
It is not uncommon for commercial shows, before they hit Broadway, to go through an incubation period at a nonprofit theater, with infusions of financial support from investors. Under so-called enhancement agreements, the theaters are able to mount larger productions than their budgets normally allow, while producers and investors get…