David Geffen tells the WSJ that Dreamgirls is his final Hollywood project: "I don't want to keep solving the same problems. I'm not interested in buying things simply to make money. I'm interested in doing something that's going to be valuable for the community, where I can make a difference." Yes, he's talking about the Times.
If Mr. Geffen has his way, his next move will be to acquire a different kind of media asset: the Los Angeles Times, which he hopes to purchase from Tribune Co. "Los Angeles needs a better newspaper," he says. "I would devote my resources to building a first-class national newspaper."
It's no secret Mr. Geffen is eager to buy the newspaper if Tribune, which has put itself up for sale, decides to sell its assets piecemeal. "I would do whatever it takes" to build a pre-eminent newspaper, he says. Mr. Geffen is considered a strong contender to buy the paper, and says he has the means to make a cash bid himself.
"As a guy who is committed to, certainly by the time I die, giving everything I have away, that gives me an awful lot of latitude about what I can and can't do," he says. Mr. Geffen already has a medical school at UCLA named after him, after donating $200 million, as well as a theater in Los Angeles's Westwood district and a museum downtown. He has donated more than $300 million to his David Geffen Foundation.
Mr. Geffen denies his recent art sales were made to raise money to buy the paper. He recently set a record for the highest sum known to have been paid for a painting when he sold "Woman III" by Willem de Kooning for $142.5 million to hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen. He also set the record before that with the sale of a classic drip painting by Jackson Pollock for $140 million. That followed the sale of Jasper Johns's "False Start" for $80 million and de Kooning's "Police Gazette" for $63.5 million.
"When I bought all these paintings, they weren't worth anywhere near what they're worth today, and I don't know that I want so much valuable art hanging on my walls," explains Mr. Geffen. In the entertainment room alone of his mansion he has Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollocks on the walls. Asked whether he plans to sell more art, he says, half jokingly: "Anybody who wants to pay $150 million for a painting of mine can have it."