Knicks game leads to $100,000 for Jewish charities
The New York Daily News reports that a chance meeting between pharmaceutical mogul Stewart Rahr and NYC real estate developer Jona Rechnitz at a New York Knicks game led Rahr to donate $100,000 to be split between Yeshiva Ketana in Manhattan and a Jewish educational program in Israel.
While the Knicks were getting trampled by Indiana on their own turf Sunday, a beautiful thing was happening courtside.
New York real estate developer Jona Rechnitz took a moment from cheering to introduce himself to his colorful seatmate, whom everyone else seemed to know.
“I see [billionaire businessman] Leon Black say hello to him, Richard LeFrak came by to say hello to him, Carmelo Anthony gave him a hug, and I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’ ” said Rechnitz.
It was pharmaceutical mogul Stewart Rahr and he was in a very generous mood. By the time all was said and done, two charities and a pair of schools would be a lot wealthier.
“[Stewart] tells me with five minutes left in the game and the Knicks losing by 12 points, ‘Why are you still cheering for the Knicks? Can I go home yet, Jona?” says Rahr.
Rechnitz optimistically assured Rahr — reportedly worth $1.6 billion and one of Forbes magazine’s 400 wealthiest men — the Knicks would pull out a win. “[Stewart] said, ‘I’ll tell you what. If the Knicks win, I’ll give a $1 million to the charity of your choice.’ ”
With the game winding down and the Knicks losing, Rechnitz asked for a consolation prize — $100,000 from Rahr if the Knicks lost, to give to charity.
Stewart “looked at me and said, ‘Jona, you’re a nice kid. Sure. Why not?’ ” said Rechnitz.
Assuming Rahr was joking, Rechnitz went home and sent his new pal an email saying thanks for the good time.
“I get an email an hour later saying, ‘Jona, be in my office tomorrow at Trump Tower on the 24th floor to pick up your check at 12:45!’ ” Rechnitz marvels.
Rahr gave Rechnitz $100,000 to split between Yeshiva Ketana in Manhattan and a Jewish educational program in Israel, and that wasn’t all.
He also made contributions to the Make a Wish Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and made arrangements to meet with Wiesenthal Center co-founder Marvin Hier to learn more about the organization’s civil rights agenda.
Stewart “said he was going to get significantly involved,” Rechnitz tells Confidential. “This is a dream. This just doesn’t happen.”
Called for a comment, Rahr told us, “I like the kid. He was [cheering for] the Knicks with four to five minutes to go, I liked his spirit.”
This was not the first financial windfall from a sports event to benefit charity for Rechnitz. In a recent Superbowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, Rechnitz bet $1,000 on the Giants to score the first points in the big game with a safety. The odds were 50 to 1. But when Patriots QB Tom Brady threw the ball 50 yards to the center of the field to avoid a sack at the beginning of the game, the move was deemed an intentional grounding and a major win for Rechnitz. Rechnitz ended up donating the $5o,000 to charity.