MacKenzie Scott May No Longer Have a Partner in Philanthropy


In lieu of a wedding announcement, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott's second husband, Dan Jewett, a science teacher, proclaimed their marriage last year by publicly promising to join her in donating their enormous fortune to good causes.

A year and a half later, his name has quietly vanished from her philanthropic endeavors. On the site for the Giving Pledge, where billionaires promise to give away half of their wealth before they die, his letter no longer appears with hers. Without fanfare, his name was recently edited out of a Medium post Scott had written last year about their gifts. Previously, grateful nonprofits that had received grants from Scott and Jewett thanked them both, but recent recipients thank her alone.

What this news means for their marriage and Jewett's influence over the disbursal of tens of billions of dollars remains, for the moment, uncertain. But Scott, a published novelist, also deleted Jewett from her author bio on Amazon, the online retailer founded by Scott's first husband, Jeff Bezos, and the source of her vast wealth.

Scott rocketed to global attention as she began giving away her wealth at a pace rarely seen in the philanthropic world. After her divorce from Bezos, Scott assembled a team of advisers and began quietly making multimillion-dollar donations to nonprofit groups that totaled more than $12 billion in just three years.

Scott promised in her May 2019 letter on the Giving Pledge to "keep at it until the safe is empty." Bloomberg has estimated her net worth as high as $62 billion, but between her billions of dollars in contributions and the decline in the stock market, the news organization now gauges her fortune at $27.8 billion.

In his own Giving Pledge letter two years later, Jewett sounded full of enthusiasm. "I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know - and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others," he wrote.

Yet he also noted that he had not previously considered making any kind of public statement about his charitable priorities because he had "never sought to gather the kind of wealth required to feel like saying such a thing would have particular meaning."

As recently as last week, according to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which preserves old versions of webpages, his letter was still twinned with hers on the site, accompanied by a photo of the two of them looking as if they were out for a hike together. Today there is just a headshot of Scott, and her letter.

Scott has refused to speak publicly about her giving, declining repeated interview requests from news organizations including The New York Times. The lawyer who handled her divorce from Bezos declined to answer questions from the Times on Tuesday. Emails to representatives of Scott about Jewett's removal from the sites went unanswered. Attempts to reach Jewett through friends, family, former colleagues and at an address associated with him in Seattle were unsuccessful.

Scott made her announcements in long posts on Medium that listed the names of organizations that received billions of dollars cumulatively.

Last month, Scott gave two homes in Beverly Hills, California, valued at a combined $55 million, to the California Community Foundation. The foundation's affordable housing grant-making functions will receive 90% of the value of the properties. Jewett's name, which had been in recent gift announcements, was nowhere in the news release.

The Health Forward Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, announced Tuesday that it had received a $15 million gift from Scott. The Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston also recently announced that it had received a $20 million grant from Scott. Neither announcement mentioned Jewett.

Jewett taught at the Lakeside School, the prestigious Seattle private school attended by the Bezos children, where he was popular among students and fellow teachers alike.

"He's earnest, not very edgy," said Angela Loihl, who spent nearly a month in 2014 with Jewett and a friend driving in a small-motored car from London to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Loihl recalled how their mutual friend had told her years later, after he married Scott, "He's the perfect person to end up with this money to give away - no sense of greed at all."

The 2021 news of their marriage took even Jewett's friends and colleagues by surprise - producing a whirlwind of news coverage far beyond his expectations, as reporters even appeared on the Lakeside campus. Although he finished the term there, Jewett felt his presence on campus was a distraction.

His new wife had become arguably the most influential philanthropist in the world with an approach that emphasized huge grants - often the largest single gift a group had received - with no strings attached.

In his Giving Pledge letter published in March 2021, Jewett wrote that he was "grateful for the exceptional privilege it will be to partner in giving away assets with the potential to do so much good when shared."

In June 2021, Scott posted about her giving on Medium, where she wrote: "Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisers - we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change." Sometime in the past week, searches on the Internet Archive showed, the post was edited, and Jewett's name removed from there as well.

© 2022 The New York Times Company


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