Obituary: Alberto Vilar, prolific classical music donor who defaulted on pledges, 80

Posted on: September 13, 2021

“Alberto W. Vilar, whose record-setting largesse proved chimerical, died on Sept. 4 at age 80,” writes Taylor Grant in Friday’s (9/10) Musical America (subscription required). “A money manager who built a nearly $1 bn fortune through Amerindo Investment Advisors by focusing on biotechnology and technology stock, Vilar gave or promised to give more than $200 million to the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and others. Born in East Orange, N.J. … in 1940, Vilar lived in Puerto Rico from age 7 until he attended college in Pennsylvania…. He and a partner—Gary A. Tanaka—started Amerindo in the 1980s. At its peak, the firm had as much as $10 billion under management … His giving garnered naming opportunities in some of the world’s leading [opera] houses…. Vilar’s fortune … eventually fell … Vilar defaulted on millions of dollars of pledges … In May 2005 … Vilar was arrested and then indicted on federal fraud and money-laundering charges … He was sentenced to nine years in prison…. Released in 2018, Vilar lived on a monthly Social Security check in a Queens [NY} apartment.”