Ariadne Getty doesn’t like being in the spotlight. While her foundation has donated millions of dollars to charities and causes since launching 15 years ago, the oil heiress is reluctant to accept praise or fame for her work.
Even so, she was on hand on Tuesday night when Variety named her philanthropist of the year during a swank cocktail reception and dinner at the Montage in Beverly Hills. Before being presented with the award by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Claudia Eller, Getty was recognized for her work on behalf of the Los Angeles LGBT Center as well as GLAAD.
She donated $2 million for the Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy, which opened in April on the Center’s newly opened Anita May Rosenstein Campus. She also donated $2.5 million for the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing program, which is slated to open in 2020 and will provide 99 affordable housing units for senior citizens.
“All of us at the LGBT Center are eternally grateful to Ari and for all the work she has made possible and all the lives that she has improved,” the center’s CEO Lorri E. Jean said. “Ariadne Getty has spent a lifetime giving generously to causes she cares deeply about. We would be here all night if we talked about all of the important work her extraordinary generosity over the many decades has made possible here in Los Angeles, across the county and around the world.”
Calling Getty a “friend,” Jean said, “I don’t say this very often, especially in this town, but Ari Getty is the real deal…She gives because she sees that there are important needs that must be met and she wants to help. She gives because her heart is filled with compassion and empathy. She gives because she feels she has a responsibility to make a difference.”
GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis recalled becoming fast friends with Getty after she attended her first GLAAD Media Awards. Getty famously donated $15 million to the LGBTQ media watchdog group during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“She gives with her heart, as Lorri Jean said, with no strings attached,” Ellis said. “When you’re trying to raise money and find work, Ari trusts the leadership of that work and doesn’t try to micromanage it and that’s a really big deal for leaders in a movement because a lot of people give money but there are a lot of strings attached and you have to do certain things. Ari gives you money because she believes in what you’re doing and that is a huge vote of confidence.”
Getty told Variety that her support of LGBTQ causes came about because both her children — son August Getty and daughter Nats Getty — are gay. Nats recently married YouTube personality Gigi Gorgeous.
“My new chosen family, which are all August and Nats and Gigi’s friends…they’ve become a part of my family and this is what I understand and this is what I want from the Center and what GLAAD does,” Ari said. “It brings people together and then only then do you feel a part of and only then do you understand that your involvement is so needed.”
She went onto say that she didn’t feel like she deserved the award because “this is what happens when you make friends who are doing important work and you have the ability [to help]. It’s all about the people who bring the work to you.”
Getty promised to live up to being philanthropist of the year: “I’ll continue to do my best to make the differences that I can.”
The evening’s guest list included “Pose’s” Johnny Sibilly, “Transparent” actress Trace Lysette, NBC Entertainment’s Chip Sullivan, ABC correspondent Karl Schmid, Sony Pictures’ Andre Caraco, “State of Pride” filmmaker Raymond Braun and YouTubers Connor Franta and Hannah Hart.