EBay’s Iranian Founder’s $3 Million Gift to Louvre

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Pam Omidvar

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar is known for the “venture philanthropy” of his Omidyar Network, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to support micro-finance, governmental transparency, and social media in developing countries. He also ventured into the arts with a gift of $3 million to the Louvre for research and educational projects on Persian art.

A fund will be established in the name of Omidyar’s mother, Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar, who is the founder and president of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, which supports research and education on Persian art and culture. The American Friends of the Louvre will help with the gift’s disbursement.

A French-born American of Iranian origin, Pierre Omidyar founded eBay in 1995. Forbes Magazine’s billionaires list gives his net worth as $6.7 billion. According to Forbes blogger Clare O’Connor, he became a billionaire in a single afternoon in 1998, when eBay went public. “We sort of skipped the ‘regular rich’ and we went straight to ‘ridiculous rich,’” he told O’Connor. “I had the notion that, OK, so now we have all of this wealth, we could buy not only one expensive car, we could buy all of them. As soon as you realize that you could buy all of them, then none of them are particularly interesting or satisfying.”

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