Published On: Thu, Sep 11th, 2014

Barbara Picower Picking Up the Pieces of her Philanthropy

Accountant Jeffry Picower (R) and wife Barbara Picower in 2002

Barbara Picower  has been gradually setting herself back into her role as one of the nation’s top philanthropists, as president  of the JPB Foundation.

Active since 2012, the JPB Foundation has already donated more than $100 million with the bequests going to marginally the same institutions and causes that Ms. Picower and her late husband previously favored, whilst maintaining the exceptionally low profile that the Picowers carefully guarded in the past.

According to tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the JPB Foundation boasted $1.1 billion in assets as of the end of 2012, although according to estimates within the world of philanthropy.  Ms. Picower’s recently formed foundation has  doubled its assets since then, making it one of the largest philanthropic associations according to asset size in the United States, according to the Foundation Center’s list of the largest grant-making foundations.

All of the funding for the JPB Foundation has come from the estate of Jeffry Picower,  that remained in place after Barbara Picower agreed to return $7.2 billion to Irving Picard, trustee of Madoff’s bogus investment firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. During the lengthy court case, Irving Picard consistently maintained that  the late Mr. Picower “knew or should have known” that his huge income was being gleaned as a result of the massive fraud  perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, who is currently serving a 150 year prison sentence for his crimes.

Jeffry Picower passed away suddenly and tragically in 2010 at the age of 67 with his death being attributed to drowning in his family home  swimming pool, in Palm Beach, Florida,   although the local coroner did state that Picower’s chronic heart disease problems did play a contributing factor.

At the peak of his financial prowess Jeffry Picower was estimated to have a net worth of around $10 billion, making him  one of the wealthiest people in the United States. Picower succeeded in keeping his financial activities under wraps, as well as Barbara Picower’s massive philanthropic activities.

When Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme finally collapsed in December 2008,  Barbara Picower immediately wound up the activities of  the Picower Foundation, the charitable organization which she managed and was sitting on assets of close to $1 billion, which ironically, almost half of the current assets  of the JPB foundation she is currently operating.

To date  the largest individual grant awarded by the JPB Foundation has been the $25 million gift to the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, with an the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, topped up by an additional $2 million that went to the Picower Institute’s innovation fund.

Through the Picower Foundation, Barbara and Jeffrey Picower have focused their philanthropic activities on such issues as cutting edge brain research, possibly driven by the fact that Jeffry Picower had been diagnosed as  a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer

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