Inside move: Messier giving to the arts

Despite company troubles, topper involved in charities

Vivendi Universal’s board of directors clearly do not like topper Jean-Marie Messier’s corporate spending habits. But Gotham’s cultural elite have no problem with his charity spending whatsoever.

Messier, who with his family moved to Park Avenue just days before Sept. 11, is a white knight to the cultural institutions in New York, still hurting after the terrorist attacks and the nation’s recession cut a hole in the pockets of Gotham’s most philanthrophic citizens.

Waving Viv U’s dollars and francs, Messier wasted little time in entering Gotham’s seats of cultural power, many of which require significant six-figure giving to gain entry.

He’s stepped onto the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art and become vice chairman of the Museum of Television and Radio’s new media center. Messier’s wife Antoinette is on the board of the N.Y. Philharmonic.

On the fundraising front, the Messiers are proving to be troopers.

On May 30, the Messiers hosted, with “Austin Powers” star Mike Myers, Gotham’s anti-poverty organization, the Robinhood Foundation’s, annual fundraising dinner. And Messier is doing a fundraiser the N.Y. Public Library and the interfaith group Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

After receiving an honorary humanitarian award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on May 2, Messier has also agreed to help build a Tolerance Center near Times Square.

Whatever Messier’s long-term commitment to the arts in New York may be, it’s certainly welcome in the short-term.