George Soros funds own philanthropy with $18 billion


(JTA) — Jewish-American billionaire George Soros has transferred $18 billion to Open Society Foundations, a philanthropy he founded.

The gift, made over several years but first disclosed on Tuesday, is one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to one foundation, The New York Times reported.

Open Society is now the second largest philanthropic organization by assets in the United States behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wall Street Journal reported. The foundations, which provide about $900 million annually for programs and grants, now hold most of Soros’ fortune. He reportedly is planning to give another $2 billion to the foundations in coming years.

Soros, 87, a major Democratic donor, earned his wealth as a hedge fund manager. His fortune currently is worth about $23 billion.

Open Society, which was founded by Soros more than 30 years ago, promotes democracy and human rights in more than 120 countries. In recent years, the philanthropy has provided funding to programs in the United States to protect gays and lesbians and reduce abuses by police, according to The Times.

Soros is frequently vilified by European right-wing politicians for his support of pro-democracy efforts through Open Society, and by pro-Israel activists for his support of Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups often critical of Israeli policies. He currently is under fire in his birth country of Hungary, where he has been derided for his support for efforts to allow migrants to enter the country.

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