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– The Museum of Fine Arts’ rotunda, prior to the installation of the John Singer Sargent murals

– The Museum of Fine Arts’ rotunda, today

As you have undoubtedly heard by now, a Wall Street hedge fund manager has been accused of bilking investors out of as much as $50 billion.

Entrapped in his scheme were many well-known charities and individuals.

Locally, the Carl & Ruth Shapiro Foundation was hit hard. Carl Shapiro has estimated that his family’s foundation has lost up to 50% of its value – $145 million. (Mr Shapiro is said to have lost as much as $400 million of his own fortune.)

This is a tragedy.

Through their foundation, the Shapiros have helped build Boston. Anywhere and everywhere you look, you can see the results of their generosity.

I live across the street from the Huntington Theater Company’s new home, built with the support of the Shapiros.

I went to an opening at the Museum of Fine Arts last Tuesday and walked through the Shapiro Rotunda.

On Thursday, I had an MRI at the Shapiro Center, at Beth Israel Hospital.

From museums (Children’s, Museum of Science, ICA, MFA) to health centers (Whittier Street, Boston Medical Center, Brigham & Women’s, BI/Deaconess) to Jewish-focused charities, their support can be seen, and felt.

In 2007 alone, their foundation gave out money to over 130 organizations, most of them in or near Boston.

Mr Shapiro is 95 – 95!!! What a shock this must be to him and his entire family. And a terrible disappointment that must feel hopeless, to those who have benefited from his generosity.

It’s cliched but true: there’s a special place in hell for people like Mr Madoff.

Photos courtesy Boston Public Library

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