A Manhattan billionaire bought a $37 million insurance policy — to get his kids into the right college, according to a new report.
Hedge-fund honcho David Shaw singled out seven elite universities as his kids neared college age, then began doling out annual massive “gifts,” typically $1 million, to the schools through a family endowment, says the article by ProPublica and New York magazine.
The whopping sum — $37.3 million in all to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Brown, Columbia and MIT between 2011 and 2017 — was a legal option to the current college-admissions scandal, the online report said.
While now-infamous college-fixer Rick Singer was siphoning bribes from a caldron of wealthy clients, including TV actress Felicity Huffman, to land their kids spots at top schools, Shaw and wife Beth Kobliner hedged their bets within the system — at a mind-boggling price, the report said.
“At minimum, experts in higher-education fundraising say, Shaw and Kobliner’s strategy improved their children’s chances of getting into at least one of the country’s top universities,’” according to the article.
“At best, it would allow them to choose whichever blue-chip school they preferred, making selecting a college as easy as ordering from a takeout menu.”
Shaw, the 68-year-old founder of the renowned hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co., has three children with his financial-journalist wife: Rebecca, 23, Adam, 21, and high-school sophomore Jacob.
Rebecca graduated from Yale in 2018. She is now a writer for TV’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Adam is currently enrolled at Yale. Jacob still attends the tony Horace Mann School in Manhattan, where both his older siblings went.
Their father, worth an estimated $7.3 billion, went to the University of California, San Diego, the article noted, while their mother was rejected from Yale and went to Brown.
Shaw handled the process of their kids’ college admissions like he does everything in his life: with excruciating precision, the report said.
According to “company lore,” the numbers genius is so obsessed with efficiency that before he travels, he has had an assistant take the same planned route to try to eliminate any possible wastes of time, the article said.
When seeking caregivers for the Shaw children, job recruiters working for the family would press applicants on their problem-solving capabilities. They would pose such questions as “David doesn’t like fluoride: How would you figure out the bottled-water brands that have the least?” and “If David is concerned about ticks, how would you prevent them from invading his property?” the article said.
Shaw once told staffers they needed to come up with a way to prevent ticks from invading the family’s 38,000-square-foot Hastings-on-Hudson estate.
One plan involved building a moat around the property to prevent potentially disease-carrying squirrels and deer from crossing over, the report said.
A former family employee, Fox “New Girl” TV sitcom writer Elizabeth Meriweather, penned a not-so-flattering off-Broadway play about her brief time working for the Shaws.
A Yale graduate herself, Meriweather had been fired by the family for forgetting to put the kids’ snacks — bottles of water and pear cut into quarter-inch-thick slices — in the car before school pick-up, the report said.
When it came to his kids and college, money-man Shaw used the same strategy he employs with his investments — spreading his money across the field to decrease risk, according to the article.
“It’s obvious he picked the four schools he’d rather get into with a million dollars a year and the lesser schools with half a million a year,” said William Zabel, the former head of Princeton’s planned-giving advisory committee.
Zabel was referring to Shaw’s $1 million-a-year gifts to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, as opposed to the $500,000 that the hedge-funder typically gave to Columbia and Brown and $200,000 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“If it didn’t help at Yale, he wouldn’t mind if it helped at Princeton,” Zabel said of Shaw and the dough. “It’s pretty clear he’s hedging his bets.”
Perhaps ironically, Shaw’s kids are so well-rounded and smart that they are just the kind of students any Ivy League school would seem to want anyway, the report noted.
As for Shaw’s wife, she has advised parents against following “the herd with your donating dollars.
“You might find yourself obsessing over those annual college rankings,” she has said. “Don’t take them too seriously.”
The schools that received the Shaws’ money insisted to ProPublica and New York mag that they have a “merit”-based admissions process and look for students “of exceptional quality and character.”
A rep for Shaw did not immediately return a request for comment from The Post on Monday.
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