Giving Big, a California Couple Gets Gratitude and Scrutiny

Standing on the grand staircase of Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s opulent Beverly Hills mansion at a party last fall — where Diane Keaton, Bob Iger and Brian Grazer were among the luminaries making small talk over crudités and Sazerac cocktails — the author Walter Isaacson took a moment to thank his hosts.

Not only were the Resnicks giving the party to celebrate his new biography of Elon Musk, they had also been major supporters of his former professional home, the Aspen Institute, donating $36 million to the think tank over the years.

Isaacson was not the only one in the room with reason to be grateful to them. Milling about the house, where works by Picasso, Fragonard and Boucher line the walls, were the museum directors Michael Govan of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (which has received $90 million from the Resnicks) and Ann Philbin of the Hammer ($30 million) as well as Michael Milken, the former junk bond king who later founded a think tank, the Milken Institute ($25 million).

Overall, the Resnicks — whose Wonderful Company business empire includes Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, Wonderful Pistachios, Fiji Water, Halos mandarins and Teleflora, the flower-delivery service — have donated $1.9 billion of their estimated $13 billion fortune to academic institutions, climate change initiatives, cultural organizations and programs in California’s Central Valley. Their gifts have landed them on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of the 50 biggest donors three times.

“You really have to see them as one of the largest proponents of investing in L.A.’s public institutions,” said Mr. Govan, LACMA’s director.

The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles named its Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center in honor of the couple’s $30 million gift. Credit…Eric Staudenmaier, via Hammer Museum

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