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The famously reclusive Geffen opens up about his interactions with fellow moguls, his investments and where he gets his clothes in a wide-ranging interview with Fortune.
While Geffen claims he’s “not smart enough” to have been successful in Silicon Valley, he has strong relationships with tech moguls like Page and Sergey Brin at Google, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen and others. And, he says he’s given them advice in areas like art, show business and buying boats.
Indeed, Geffen says Jobs would call him often for advice, such as when he bought Pixar and decided to make Toy Story.
“Our relationship was based almost always on him calling up and asking, ‘Is this a good deal?,’ Geffen explains. “I’m not in his business, and I wasn’t trying to be. I was just a guy who admired him a lot and was flattered he wanted my advice.”
There also were lighter interactions, such as when Jobs used to make fun of Geffen’s boat. The late Apple mogul didn’t care much about money or like demonstrations of wealth, Geffen says.
Even though Jobs is gone, Geffen still believes in Apple, with roughly $1 billion dollars in the tech giant’s stock.
And although he’s not shy about buying expensive pieces of art or Ellison’s Rising Sun yacht, where he spends the third of his time that he’s not in L.A. or his lavish Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park, he’s a bit more modest when it comes to fashion.
“I buy my clothes at J.Crew online,” Geffen says. “I’m a very casual guy.”
Retired since DreamWorks moved to Disney, Geffen is less interested in the entertainment industry now.
“When I go to see Iron Man 3, I’m not as enthralled as I was when I saw The Bridge on the River Kwai,” he says.
With respect to music, he claims he can listen to works from up until pretty much the beginning of the ’90s, until Tupac.
Now, he intends to “give every nickel [of his money] away,” while he’s alive.
And he’s not a fan of doing so anonymously.
“I don’t agree that the best giving is anonymous. We should be examples to our friends and communities. I should be an example to young, gay kids,” he says. “And it’s not like people are really anonymous anyway — you remember that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm? In the end, everybody knows who ‘anonymous’ is.”
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Taraji P. Henson