Bono expands charitable empire to art -- Will he put his money where his mouth is?


U2 front-man Bono has a new plan to help his for-charity brand (Product) Red get some cash.

Sotheby's will be selling some $28 million worth of art donated to the cause at a special Red auction on February 14th. According (subscription required) to the Wall Street Journal, "Until now, the two-year-old commercial enterprise has teamed up with companies to license the Red logo on everyday products like $51.99 sneakers and $28 T-shirts, with between 40% and 50% of the profits going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Swiss foundation spearheaded six years ago by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan."

I'm as sympathetic to those causes as anyone, but I think that consumers should think long and hard before they contribute through purchases from a company with Bono involved.

In a March 2007 piece that, had it gained a broader audience, would have destroyed the rock star's credibility, Bloomberg Markets looked at (PDF file -- may take a minute to load) Bono's financial dealings and reached this conclusion: "The rock icon, who campaigns to end poverty, scrimps on taxes and presides over an investment empire." Read the article for details.

This is a guy who wants government to spend big to alleviate poverty and then dodges taxes at every legal opportunity. Hypocrite!

My favorite pop star turned philanthropist is Ricky Martin -- He puts his money where his mouth is, donating the money to help build and restore 224 in the wake of the tsunamis that rocked the Indian Ocean Basin. Check out the Ricky Martin Foundation.