Madonna's Malawi School Implodes And 8 Other Celeb-Charity Disasters


In a huge embarrassment for the would-be celebrity philanthropist, Madonna has been forced to abandon the school for girls she planned in Malawi — and her foundation, Raising Malawi, which was to support it.

The singer founded Raising Malawi after her not-uncomplicated adoption of two Malawi children: since 2006, the charity collected around $18 million in donations (much of it at annual star-studded, Gucci-sponsored benefits).

But after she broke ground on a school for girls in the country, things went woefully awry. Workers on the site are suing Madonna, saying they were never paid. And now the IRS is investigating all of her charity efforts, as well as those of Kabbalah Centre International, Madonna’s partner in the project.

Meanwhile, Kabbalah wants to get as far away from the star who once brought the faith into the public eye — they released a statement severing ties with Raising Malawi.

But Madge is in good company — plenty of stars get into hot water with high-profile charity efforts.

Oprah Winfrey's South African school has been an unmitigated disaster.

Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been plagued by troublesome incidents since its 2007 opening. First, a dorm matron was accused of sexually abusing students. Then, in February, the dead baby of a student was found on campus. That incident is still being investigated.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got duped by a vet's mum.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes meant well when, in 2009, they took the stage at a PBS event to raise funds for a Jose Pequeno, a Marine wounded in Iraq. But when the National Enquirer uncovered that the money was being funneled to Pequeno's mother, a convicted con artist, TomKat's good intentions blew up in their faces.

Wyclef Jean brought more trouble to Haiti.

Singer Wyclef Jean, a Haiti native, became the face of the cause when the country suffered a devastating earthquake. He set up a charity for earthquake victims -- but in 2010, reports of financial misconduct leaked out. Jean allegedly paid his mistress $105,000 through the organisation.

The IRS busted Bono for low distribution.

Hey, at least the Spiderman musical debacle is distracting from this: Bono came under fire when IRS records revealed his charitable organisation, ONE, had distributed less than 1 per cent of the donations it had received in 2008.

Sean 'Puffy' Combs' phone was ringing off the hook when two separate organisations -- the Long Island Plastic Surgery Group and the Long Island Breast Cancer Action Committee -- complained that they never got the proceeds from events Combs hosted on their behalf.

Disorganization came back to haunt Zhang Ziyi.

'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' star Zhang Ziyi was in over her head when, in 2008, she organised a donation drive for Sichuan earthquake victims. Ziyi's team reported that the hastily-arranged drive raised around $50k more than it actually did. Even worse, her own donation was bungled, and came in much smaller than she had intended. It all added up to Ziyi being accused of fraud.

A Russian children's hospital has yet to see the money Sharon Stone and others gave.

In December 2010, stars including Sharon Stone gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a $35,000-a-plate charity gala benefiting a children's hospital. But three months later, a mother of one of the hospital's young patients is speaking out, claiming that the hospital hasn't seen any of the money raised.

Simon Monjack had to make a lot of refunds.

The shady husband of late actress Brittany Murphy set up an arts-education charity in her name a year after her December 2009 death. But when it was revealed that Monjack had never legally set up the foundation, he was forced to return donations.

Maybe some of these people will soon be in a better position to donate.

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