A billionaire’s pledge easy for Gerry Lenfest

Gerry Lenfest and his wife Marguerite didn’t need a pledge to prompt them to give away their billions.

But the couple, who took home $1.6 billion after the sale of their cable company to Comcast, signed the now-famous Billionaires Pledge this summer anyway.

“We are having too much fun giving our wealth away to save any for later,” Gerry Lenfest said in an interview Friday.

The couple, who have given the most in donations to this region except for the Annenbergs, are the types of billionaires that Philadelphians can appreciate. They still live in their first house, originally purchased in 1965, without air conditioning.

They have already given about $800 million of their vast fortune. So when mega investor Warren Buffett approached with the ultimate philanthropic pledge, the answer was easy.

“When Warren called, it was very easy for us to agree. Marguerite and I have already given away more than half of our wealth,” Lenfest said. “We also do not plan to have our foundation last for perpetuity, only for the next 30 years. After that, the foundation could outlive its original purpose.”

Marguerite Lenfest shook her head in agreement, “We think it is bad to leave that much wealth to your children. All that money would rob them of the incentive to do anything with their lives.”

Gerry Lenfest, who simultaneously chairs the Board of Trustees for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Curtis Center and the American Revolution Center, said, “We are always talking up the pledge.”

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