- Australian billionaires have collectively pledged at least $US54 million to wildfire relief efforts, Business Insider estimates. The largest single private donation has been from Andrew Forrest, who donated $US48 million to the cause.
- To put that number into perspective, one social-media influencer said she was able to raise $US700,000 for the relief efforts by selling nude photos of herself online.
- And within hours of the Notre Dame fire in April, three French billionaires had collectively pledged to donate $US565 million to the cathedral’s rebuilding.
- An estimated 25 million acres of Australia’s brush have burned since September, killing at least 28 people, forcing hundreds of thousands of others to evacuate, and blanketing cities in dangerous smoke.
- All figures in the article below are in USD unless otherwise specified.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Jeff Bezos was slammed on Twitter after announcing that Amazon would be donating $US690,000 to the wildfire relief efforts in Australia, but he’s not the only billionaire whose donations – or lack thereof – are drawing criticism.
An estimated 25 million acres of Australia’s brush have burned since September. The fires have killed at least 28, forced hundreds of thousands of others to evacuate, and blanketed cities in dangerous smoke – and there are still at least two months left in fire season.
In response, Australian billionaires have pledged at least $US53,680,380 to relief efforts, according to a calculation by Business Insider. That estimate does not include the gifts that were made privately, including that of Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart. Several famous Aussie multimillionaires, including Liam Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman, have pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts, but their donations were not included in this estimation.
Billionaires’ donations pale in comparison to those made after the Notre Dame fire
Australian comedian Celeste Barber has been one of the leading voices behind the criticism of billionaires’ lack of reaction to the massive fires. Barber led the largest Facebook fundraiser in the platform’s history to benefit relief efforts. In just 12 days, 1,307,939 Facebook users gave more than a total of $US34 million USD to the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund on Facebook.
Only one Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest, has donated more than that. Forrest donated $US48 million, Business Insider Australia reported.
For comparison, within hours of the fire that swept through the Notre Dame in Paris in April, three French billionaires had already pledged $US565 million for restoration efforts, Business Insider’s Katie Warren reported at the time. While those French billionaires – LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, Kering founder François-Henri Pinault, and L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers – are all significantly wealthier than anyone in Australia, the difference in reactions is one Barber was quick to highlight.
“Hey billionaires, Notre Dame burning down sucked,” Barber tweeted January 7. “I get it. Times that by a trillion and that’s what’s happening in Australia. Feel free to flick us a quick couple of million. You make it seem pretty easy.”
Hey billionaires, Notre Dame burning down sucked. I get it. Times that by a trillion and that’s what’s happening in Australia. Feel free to flick us a quick couple of million. You make it seem pretty easy. https://t.co/HHemX5P3KM
— Celeste barber (@celestebarber_) January 7, 2020
Billionaires’ gifts have also been compared to the $US700,000 USD one social-media influencer said she was able to raise for the relief efforts by selling nude photos of herself online. That would mean her contribution outnumbers that of real estate billionaires John and Pauline Gandel.
The single biggest private donation to the Australian wildfire relief totaled $US48 million
Here’s a look at the Australian billionaires who have pledged donations so far. All figures are in USD.
- Casino mogul James Packer was among the first Australian billionaires to donate, making two gifts totaling $US3.45 million through his company and family foundation in November, The Australian reported.
- The cofounders of software company Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, each donated $US770,000,Forbes reported.
- Real estate billionaires John and Pauline Gandel donated $US690,380 to a group of organisations involved in the relief efforts, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
- Gina Rinehart – the richest person in Australia – said she “privately” donated after Barber called her out on Twitter, her spokesman said in a statement to The Daily Mail.
- Andrew Forrest donated $US48 million, which is believed to be the largest private donation to relief efforts, Business Insider Australia reported.
A handful of American billionaires have also announced plans to contribute to the relief efforts:
- Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that the social network would donate $US173,000 ($US250,000 AUD) to the Australian Red Cross and match up to $US671,000 ($US1 million AUD) in donations made to GlobalGiving.
- Jeff Bezos was slammed on Twitter for donating $US690,000 – roughly the amount of money he makes in five minutes – to the recovery efforts, Business Insider reported.