News & Opinion | May 7, 2018 12:26 pm

Taxpayers Are Subsidizing the Lavish Met Gala

RealClearInvestigations looks into who is actually paying for the extravagant event.

met gala
Tom Brady (L) and Gisele Bundchen attend the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for
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Celebrities come from far and wide to walk the red carpet and celebrate the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Ball. Organized by Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, it is an exclusive event, with only 550 people invited. With such a limited invite list, Wintour is turning away scores of people who could easily afford the $30,000 tickets, but don’t generate buzz or necessarily go with her brand, writes RealClearInvestigations. 

The charity ball gets more attention than any other in the country and is attended by the likes of Beyoncé, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Derek Jeter and Bradley Cooper. But, RCI writes, all of that glitz and glamour is underwritten by the American taxpayer. Taxpayer subsidies occur in a number of ways at the Met Gala. Tables for 10 go from $275,000 to $500,000, and so buyers may deduct that cost, minus the nominal cost of the meals, set at $250 a person. You can also pay the Met Gala a seven-figure sum to have your name up in lights for the night, as well as at the exhibition that follows. That is also tax deductible.

“The IRS clearly states that donors cannot get anything of value from their contributions, which is why they cannot deduct the meal portion of the ticket,” said David Callahan, founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy and author of The Givers, to RCI. “Here we have a case where they get a full deduction and they’re getting value that the IRS is essentially overlooking.”