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Kenneth Cole steps down as amfAR chairman amid controversy

The fashion designer resigned even as federal prosecutors look into dealings among amfAR and Harvey Weinstein

Image Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Kenneth Cole attends the 2017 amfAR Inspiration Gala Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Tabloid

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole has resigned as chairman of the board of the Aids charity amfAR.

The group’s board of trustees said Cole and four other trustees agreed to “graciously” resign after the board implemented term limits. Cole had served longer than the new limits that were adopted.

But Cole’s move also comes as federal prosecutors in Manhattan look into financial dealings in 2015 among amfAR, Harvey Weinstein and the American Repertory Theater.

Authorities are trying to find out if fraud occurred when $600,000 raised at an amfAR auction went to the theatre company that had produced Weinstein’s musical Finding Neverland. The musical is adapted from the 2004 whimsical film of the same name about a widow whose four young sons inspired playwright J.M. Barrie to write the children’s classic Peter Pan. The $20 million show failed to recoup.

Cole was a leader of amfAR, which stands for American Foundation for Aids Research, at the time.

In a statement, the group didn’t mention the fraud allegation, saying only that Cole had served the group with “extraordinary dedication.”

“Under his leadership we have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for AIDS research, had a profound impact on millions of people’s lives and gotten closer to our ultimate goal of finding a cure for this insidious disease,” the statement read.

In his own statement, Cole said he had “proudly served” on the amfAR board and will serve as honorary chairman, helping elect the new chairman. He said he supported the board’s term limit reform.

Cole has had a long relationship with amfAR, joining its board in 1987. He was elected vice chairman in 2002 and chairman of the board three years later. He has also designed the group’s advertising, including the “We All Have Aids” public service campaign in 2005.

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