from Nonprofit Quarterly:
The Kabbalah Centre … is now embroiled in what looks to be a scandal involving a woman with dementia.
A former socialite, Susan Strong Davis is an 87-year-old widow suffering from dementia. Notwithstanding her illness, somehow she has managed to borrow $2.65 million to build a 4-bedroom, 3-fireplace house in Beverly Hills – and to donate $600,000 to the Kabbalah Centre from her personal wealth, which apparently totals approximately $11 million.
The gatekeeper between Davis and the Kabbalah Centre is one John E. Larkin, who serves as Davis’ financial advisor and is a student of the Kabbalah. The site of the Beverly Hills home is also connected to Larkin; he owned it and sold it to Davis, according to the LA Times, “at a substantial personal profit.” As scummy as the house deal might sound, the NPQ Newswire is more interested in Davis and Larkin’s relationships with the Kabbalah Centre, which has been the subject of an ongoing IRS investigation.
The $600,000 donation from Davis raises the question of the role of financial advisors or wealth advisors, many of whom are ubiquitous in guiding the charitable giving of very wealthy people. Larkin is no unknown figure, having advised Ricardo Montalban and Candice Bergen among other celebrity clients. How he came to know Davis isn’t clear, but he was put in charge of Davis’s personal filings and, with a second trustee, George Dickinson, has made $900,000 managing her finances since 2002.
Larkin is beyond close to the Kabbalah Centre. He became involved with the Centre in the early 2000s, married an official from the Centre as his fourth wife (with the ceremony performed by the son of the Centre’s founders, Philip and Karen Berg), bought a home on the same Beverly Hills block as the Bergs, and managed personal investments for the Bergs and some of their “celebrity followers.”