News | West Harlem

Investors donate $40 million for Business School buildings in Manhattanville

  • GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS | The donations will go to the school's two planned Manhattanville buildings, which will encompass more than 450,000 square feet.

Two big-name, big-pocket investors have donated a total of $40 million toward the Business School’s planned buildings in Manhattanville, Columbia announced on Monday.

Arthur J. Samberg, founder of Pequot Capital Management Inc., pledged $25 million, and Mario J. Gabelli, the chairman and CEO of investment firm GAMCO Investors Inc., pledged $15 million, Columbia announced Monday.

With $400 million in donations and $100 million committed by the University's central administration, the Business School is now within $100 million of its $600 million goal for the buildings, spokesperson Evan Nowell said in a statement. Samberg and Gabelli's pledges follow other high-profile gifts, including a $100 million donation from financier Ronald Perelman in May.

The buildings, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and FXFOWLE, will encompass more than 450,000 square feet on the new campus. Construction on the buildings likely won't begin for another year and a half to two years, University President Lee Bollinger estimated in May.

Samberg and Gabelli, both Business ’67, are members of the Business School’s Board of Overseers. They said in a statement that they wanted to give others the same opportunities they themselves had enjoyed.

“My parents did not have a formal education,” said Gabelli, a first-generation Italian American whose net worth Forbes estimated at $1.2 billion in March. “But in this country, I had the opportunity to progress through a great education.”

Samberg, who also gave the Business School $25 million in 2006, paid the Securities and Exchange Commission $28 million in a 2010 settlement over accusations of insider trading of Microsoft shares. 

“I had the good fortune to attend a number of elite schools, but many people don’t have the advantages I had,” Samberg said. “In supporting Columbia Business School, I’m helping others, who didn’t grow up in the same environment, get a chance to advance.” 

casey.tolan@columbiaspectator.com  |  @caseytolan

Correction: An earlier version of this article reversed the positions of the two donors. Samberg is the founder of Pequot Capital Management Inc. and Gabelli is the chairman and CEO of investment firm GAMCO Investors Inc. Spectator regrets the error.

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ree4 posted on

Yes, Mr. Samberg, you're helping others learn how to break the law and fleece the public. Thank you.

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Anonymous posted on

Spec, please remove the second last paragraph out of respect to the man who just generously donated to our institution. You can deal with SEC violations in another report.

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CU_Alum posted on

I've never been shy about criticizing Spec, and I sympathize with your position. But I completely disagree with what your suggest. The writers at Spec are journalists, not PR agents for the university. They should not be expected to soften their reporting in order to coddle a donor. Besides, I'm sure Samberg's skin is more than thick enough to handle this.

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Anonymous posted on

Its disrepectful and shotty reporting. I am sure every donor, administrator, politician has a skeleton: should they be brought up every time they work in a soup kitchen?

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CU_Alum posted on

Spec's role is to inform its readers. You and I may feel gratitude for these gifts, but journalists aren't supposed to work that way.

The fine Mr. Samberg paid in 2008 is something many readers would want to know. His name is going to be prominently associated with Columbia's for decades, so Columbians have an interest in knowing about any significant blemishes on his record.

You're surely right that focusing on this one detail gives us an incomplete picture of Mr. Samberg. But Spec does not have to write full biographies any time an article says something unflattering.

If you believe more should have been said about Mr. Samberg, please say it in a comment. I'll read it with interest. So will others.

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protestfolk posted on

By not making reference to the following May 5, 2006 New York Times article by Andrew Ross Sorkin about past legal allegations of wrongdoing made by some investors in Columbia Business School Campus Expansion Project Donor Gabelli's mutual fund empire, Spec actually did--probably unintenionally--soften their coverage of how the money to fund the tax-exempt Columbia Administration's landgrabbing/real estate development profit in West Harlem/Manhattanville was originally obtained by the Columbia Administration's financial backers. As Andrew Sorkin observed in his May 5, 2006 New York Times article:

"Mario J. Gabelli, the famed money manager, settled a long-running legal battle yesterday with his first investor, agreeing to pay him and another early investor more than $100 million.

"The settlement comes after years of back-and-forth about the value of the investment in Mr. Gabelli's mutual fund empire and after a barrage of accusations that he had looted the company and breached his fiduciary duty.

"The lawsuit had been brought by Frederick J. Mancheski, 79, who was Mr. Gabelli's first investor in 1976, and David M. Perlmutter, a former lawyer for Mr. Gabelli.

"Both men contended that Mr. Gabelli had prevented them from selling at fair market value their stake in his private company, Gabelli Group Capital Partners, the controlling shareholder of Gamco Investors, which is Mr. Gabelli's publicly traded mutual fund company.

"Throughout the fight, a spokesman for Mr. Gabelli had described the lawsuit as meritless and at one point called it `'tantamount to greenmail,'' suggesting that the men were trying to `'reap huge additional gains at the expense of the other shareholders.''

"But in late March, the judge in the case issued a partial summary judgment in favor of the two investors. The judge, Linda S. Jamieson of New York State Supreme Court in White Plains, also said, `'There are allegations made against Mr. Gabelli that trouble this court.''

"The settlement ends a nasty legal fight for Mr. Gabelli, who also faces problems in another case.

"The Justice Department announced in March that it would pursue civil fraud claims against Mr. Gabelli, arguing that he orchestrated a scheme to deceive the Federal Communications Commission in its auctions of wireless spectrum licenses several years ago. He has denied the accusations.

"In a statement yesterday, Mr. Gabelli said that Mr. Mancheski and Mr. Perlmutter would receive about 2.1 million Gamco shares worth about $80 million, which would correspond with their stake in Gabelli Group Capital Partners.

"Additional cash compensation, worth more than $20 million, is also expected to be paid as part of the deal, though the details of that part of the settlement could not be learned...."

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protestfolk posted on

What perhaps should also be noted is that Columbia University Business School Expansion Project Funder and Columbia Business School Board of Overseers Member Gabelli and companies affiliated with him also had to pay $130 million in 2006 "to settle allegations that he used sham companies to buy cellphone licenses under a federal program for small and minority-owned businesses," according to a July 14, 2006 Washington Post article. As Washington Post Staff Writer Brooke A. Masters observed:

"The federal government alleged that 38 individuals and companies backed by Gabelli's money improperly participated in eight wireless spectrum auctions under special Federal Communications Commission rules reserved for small businesses. The Gabelli-backed entrepreneurs included his relatives, a former aerobics instructor, the caretaker of his vacation home and a retired professional basketball player, the government alleged. Gabelli was not eligible.

"`The FCC and all government agencies should be able to trust companies which certify information about eligibility to participate in government programs,' Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler said in a statement announcing the deal. `This settlement is an example of the government's determination to ensure that valuable federal resources are protected from fraud and abuse.'

"The settlement stems from a five-year-old private lawsuit filed under the federal False Claims Act by a whistle-blower, Rufus C. Taylor III, who will receive $32.2 million for his efforts to expose problems with the Gabelli-backed bidders.

"At the time of the auctions, in 1995 to 2000, Taylor was a lawyer representing a rival bidder, and he thought the Gabelli-backed companies were improperly taking advantage of special credits and financing designed to help entrepreneurs. Under the rules, small companies were allowed to take loans from larger ones but had to be actively involved in running their companies. `The issue was whether these small businesses were true small businesses or whether Gabelli really had control of them,' said Yale University law professor Jonathan Macey.

"Under the terms of the settlement, Gabelli and his affiliates did not admit wrongdoing, and they continued to assert that they complied with all the relevant FCC rules and procedures. Gabelli's money management firm, Gamco Investors Inc., which has more than $25 billion under management in the Gabelli Funds and other accounts, was not implicated in the lawsuit.

"Lawyers for Gabelli and his affiliates did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment...."

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Anonymous posted on

They should start construction on these new buildings sooner rather than later. They have most of the money now.

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You voted '+1'.
Anonymous posted on

Yes, agree. Speaking of shoddy reporting. Spec, you have the investors and their respective firms mixed up. Gamco is run by Gabelli.

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Columbia Spectator's picture
Columbia Spectator posted on

Thanks for pointing that out. We've corrected the story.

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Anonymous posted on

Good to hear you fixed it. Spec, the next time you try to publish dirt on a major benefactor, make sure you have his or her bio right.

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Anonymous posted on

Just a stupid question. Does it really cost over 300-400 million dollars to build every building in Manhattanville? Couldn't they build a ten story building for, say, 30 million? The Greene Science Center is over 400 million. The World Trade Center only cost about a billion, and it is much larger. Can we find less expensive builders and build more, faster?

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Alum posted on

Most of the new campus will be built on top of a seven-story underground complex containing support services, storage, parking, etc. The cost of each building includes the cost of the structure beneath it. The cost of the B-school complex also includes the cost of the structure beneath the lawn between the two buildings.

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Anonymous posted on

Alumnus Warren Buffett should close the gap and get the job done.

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Alum posted on

Come on Warren!

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mike rayfield posted on

i like to know can our comany to invest 7,000,000 dollars into our new church we are trying to get built its for the kids and community to help the people and get new program to help the community

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