A very discreet billionaire
For the American press, it is « The man who owns L.A. » (“The Man Who Owns Los Angeles”). Owner of the city’s ice hockey and football franchises, the venue that hosts the mythical Lakers basketball games and many nearby hotels, cinemas and restaurants, Philip Anschutz cultivates his influence as much as his discretion. “He’s behind the curtain, but in Los Angeles he’s the one pulling the strings,” declare to Los Angeles Times economist Jack Kyser. Born in 1939, into a wealthy Kansas family, Anschutz first followed the path of his father, a land and oil company, before investing in railroads, telecommunications, the press and entertainment. At the head of a fortune estimated at more than 11 billion dollars, he counts among his possessions the very lucrative music festival Coachella, which opens its doors on April 15.
The most profitable festival owner
Since 1999, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, located in a desert valley east of Los Angeles, has been one of the busiest and most profitable music events in the world. Its bohemian retro aesthetic, the elaborate looks of its festival-goers and the fame of the artists it attracts have made Coachella a prominent event. So much so that Anschutz found himself in the spotlight in 2016, in light of revelations about the political causes he champions. Among them: struggles against abortion, against gun control and those denying the reality of climate change.
A sponsor of conservative fights
Thanks to regular donations between 2010 and 2017, this powerful patron of Donald Trump and the Republican Party was able to finance organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation or the Family Research Council, notoriously known for campaigning in favor of the enactment of anti-LGBT laws across thirty-four states across the country. Causes in complete opposition to the values carried by Coachella, which each year promotes artists openly defending LGBT rights, like Lady Gaga, Lewis Capaldi or Ariana Grande.
An unrepentant “dizzy”
Philip Anschutz reaped the wrath of part of the public, the boycott of some celebrities and the grievances of his own collaborators. Paul Tollett, organizer and co-founder of Coachella, said in 2017: “The image of the festival is tarnished, and I am offended. » Under pressure, Philip Anschutz ended up taking the floor to plead thoughtlessness, accompanying this exit with a donation of 1 million dollars to the association of Elton John, which fights for the protection of sexual minorities. He was singled out again, a few months later, for other large donations to evangelical structures encouraging LGBT discrimination, such as the Christian University of Colorado, whose charter provides that “No one should teach, defend, support or excuse homosexuality”. Since then, Philip Anschutz has tried not to overshadow the event, which finds the light this month after two years of pandemic.