PALM BEACH — Embarrassing emails written by Paul Tudor Jones, the Palm Beach billionaire founder of the powerful Palmetto Bay-based Everglades Foundation, to disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein popped up in the New York Times this week.
And they’re bound to raise questions among the donors and supporters of the environmentalist non-profit group as it sells $1,000-tickets for its annual Palm Beach black-tie fundraiser, a Feb. 17 affair at The Breakers with Jimmy Buffett as the featured entertainer.
“I love you,” hedge-fund investor Jones wrote to Weinstein on Oct. 7, according to the Times. “Focus on the future as America loves a great comeback story … The good news is, this will go away sooner than you think and it will be forgotten.”
The emails were published in a lengthy story about how Weinstein managed to remain one of Hollywood’s biggest film producers for decades while an increasing number of women, including well-known actresses, complained they’d bee sexually harassed and even raped by the porky producer.
Police in New York City, Beverly Hills and London are investigating sexual assault allegations against Weinstein, who produced iconic movies like Pulp Fiction and Gangs of New York.
Jones, a presence on the philanthropic circuits in both Palm Beach and Miami, was on the board of The Weinstein Company, the same board accused by critics of turning a blind eye on Weinstein’s sexual proclivities.
In time, Jones and the rest of the board resigned.
But as the Times story hit the web yesterday, Jones issued a lengthy statement to the employees of his diverse companies, including Tudor Investment Corporation.
He asked employees to understand the context of the emails he wrote.
“I deeply believe in redemption,” Jones wrote, “but what I know now is that Harvey was a friend I believed too long and defended too long. Perhaps in your own life you have faced a similar dilemma – how to react to a friend who is revealed to be someone other than the person you believed him or her to be.”
Jones reminded his employees to care and respect one another.
At the Everglades Foundation, whose mission is the restor the River of Grass to its natural state, the silence has been deafening.
CEO Erik Eikenberg is in Tallahassee and didn’t return a call or respond to a text message.
Seven board members contacted, including five women, didn’t return calls. One, Miami Beach socialite Kimberly Mendelson, said: “I have no comment.”
Margaritaville signer Jimmy Buffett, who also happens to be a board member, was in Jamaica and didn’t reply to an email for comment.
Jones, meanwhile, has been raked over the coals before when it comes to his words about women.
A speech by Jones about investing at the University of Virginia in 2013 is still being mentioned, and actually sparked protests by women. In October, about 40 women gathered outside Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach to protest Jones’ presence at the school for an Everglades Foundation event.
“You will never see as many great women investors or traders as men. Period. End of story,” Jones said. “The idea that you could think straight for 60 seconds and be able to make a rational decision is impossible, particularly when their kids are involved.
“As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never share about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby.”
Jones, and the Everglades Foundation, have become staunch supporters of embattled Florida Senator Jack Latvala, the target of sexual harassment complaints in Tallahassee.