Tags: unicef | madonna

UNICEF/Madonna Fundraiser Mired in Controversy

Thursday, 14 Feb 2008 10:40 AM

By Stewart Stogel

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Madonna's recent controversial fundraiser for UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) has taken a new twist.

The public relations firm which ran the extravaganza, is under investigation by the state of New York. The unusual event, held last week on the U.N.'s North Lawn in NYC, raised almost $4 million for the U.N. agency and a Madonna affiliated charity, Raising Malawi.

The so-called "gala" was entirely underwritten by the Italian fashion house Gucci, which reportedly spent more than $5 million on the celebration.

In return for the financing, Gucci got the United Nations to provide the space to host the event as well as complete control over its operations. Gucci also took the liberty of marketing the celebration as a tie-in to the opening of a new 5th Avenue store and the annual Big Apple Fashion Week.

United Nations sources tell NewsMax that the event and its administration violated numerous United Nations rules and regulations.

The blame for what is now termed a fiasco, has been placed on several U.N. officials including Ann Veneman (UNICEF chief), Alicia Barcena Ibarra (under secretary-general for management) and Ahmad Fawzi (director radio-TV operations).

There is talk inside UNICEF that Veneman, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture who was appointed in 2005, may not serve her full five-year term.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was so upset about the administration of the fundraiser that he canceled his appearance at the event and left New York City early for a visit to Chicago.

Now, the public relations firm KCD International, retained by Gucci to administer the UNICEF bash, is under a formal investigation by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. In an complaint released a day after the UNICEF event, Cuomo alleges that Mark Jacobs International, a New York City fashion house, repeatedly bribed the superintendent of the 69th Regiment Armory, James Jackson, for use of the Armory.

On one recent occasion, Jackson was allegedly paid more than $30,000 to use his facility on the Upper East Side. Cuomo says the NYS armory normally rents for about $6,000. Jacobs used the historic location in connection with promoting its line during Fashion Week.

The Mark Jacobs' public relations firm, like Gucci/UNICEF, is KCD International. As in the Gucci/UNICEF case, KCD was looking for unusual, high profile locations to host its events. Cuomo alleges that the bribes paid to Jackson by Jacobs were laundered through KCD.

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