Brown to name performing arts center after energy billionaire linked to major spill in RI environment

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Late Tuesday afternoon, Brown University announced that the sprawling, nearly completed performing arts center will be named in honor of the late George Lindemann and his wife Frayda.

“The name of the center, which is scheduled to open in 2023, honors Frayda Lindemann, a member of the Brown Corporation, and her late husband, George Lindemann Sr., a longtime supporter of the university, a leader entrepreneur and an art collector,” the Ivy League school said in its statement.

What the release makes no mention of, however, is Lindemann’s career in the energy industry and his company’s role in one of the most controversial environmental crimes in Rhode Island history.


His company was fined $18 million by a Rhode Island jury for a mercury spill in Pawtucket and that penalty was overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

Lindemann amassed a huge fortune by owning, selling and merging a number of companies, including Southern Union Group – a company he eventually sold in 2011.

It’s not the only controversy – George and Frayda’s son has made world news for his contract with his show horse.

Lindemann Southern Union – RI Mercury Spill

In October 2009, Federal Judge Will Smith of the U.S. District Court in Providence assessed the Southern Union Company at $18 million for illegally storing mercury at a company-owned site in Pawtucket. The federal court sentence included a $6 million criminal fine and $12 million in community initiative payments.

“Companies that handle hazardous chemicals like mercury must follow the law designed to protect the public and the environment. This $18 million fine is an indication that environmental crimes will not be taken lightly and offenders will be held accountable,” the acting assistant attorney general said. Cruden at the time.

This sanction was later eventually appealed to the United States Supreme Court by Lindemann’s Southern Union.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that the jury, not the judge, should have conducted the factual inquiry that underpinned the sentence. The sentence – but not the conviction – was overturned by the High Court.

In 2013, it was determined that because the jury could not be reconstituted, Smith was fined $500,000.

Between the time of the initial $18 million penalties and Smith’s final decision, Lindemann struck a major deal worth nearly $10 billion.

According to a Dallas News report in 2011, “Houston Southern Union Group pipeline company agreed on Tuesday to be acquired by Dallas pipeline company Energy Transfer Equity for $9.4 billion, ending a war of auction between Energy Transfer and Williams Cos. Energy Transfer on Tuesday offered $9.4 billion for the company, made up of debt and $5.7 billion in cash or common ETE units. $.25 a share for Southern Union.

Energy Transfer said in a press release that the offer had been approved by the boards of both companies.

“This revised merger agreement provides our shareholders with superior value, greater closing certainty and unmatched strategic advantages that could not be achieved by any other industry combination,” said Southern Union Chief Executive George Lindemann, according to the Dallas News.

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Screenshot of a New York Times article.

Brown George Jr. graduate found guilty of killing his show horse

In 1996, the Lindemanns’ son made global headlines for hiring a hitman to kill his show horse.

The Sun-Sentinal reported: “George Lindemann Jr., heir to one of Palm Beach County’s wealthiest families, is facing a 33-month sentence in federal prison for ordering a hit on his show jumping horse. ‘Obstacles in 1990.’

Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Cox said that at the time of the trial, the horse murder was done so Lindemann could save face.

“He had the horse killed because the horse made him look bad. He found it easier to have the horse killed than to admit to those in the horse set that he had made a mistake buying the horse” , Cox said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The New York Times wrote: “Judge [George] Marovich called the couple’s actions “despicable and reprehensible” and said he wanted the phrases to send a message to the country club and “the equestrian community”.

Lindemann’s prison sentence was the harshest yet, stemming from a government probe into what prosecutors have called the equestrian world’s ‘dirty little secret’ – the murder of horses for insurance money. .

Lindemann, Jr. graduated from Brown University.

Brown gift from Lindemann’s announced by the university

Brown praised the Lindemanns’ money this week. Their statement stated the following:

“The Lindemanns provide crucial support in the construction and operation of this unique and flexible space, which includes a state-of-the-art main room that can transform into five different configurations for a variety of performances and presentations; a suite of custom-designed studios for theatre, music, dance and other artistic explorations and a transparent “slice” of windows across the main level that invites the Brown and Providence communities to witness and engage in the process of artistic creation.

The center’s name was unveiled Tuesday, May 24, at a small celebration with university leaders, Brown Arts Institute faculty and staff, and members of the Lindemann family. The building’s name is visible to passers-by in Providence, etched on the facade of the building where construction continues on Angell Street, adjacent to the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

According to university president Christina H. Paxson, with the opening of the Lindemann Performing Arts Center on the horizon, Brown is well positioned to become a destination of choice for world-class arts scholars, students engaged in the arts, international artists and members of the regional community who will be invited to make, present and witness works in the new center. The center’s location adjacent to the Granoff Center creates a strong on-campus hub for creativity, expression, experimentation, and discovery.

“We see a future where Brown is the primary destination for students who want to fully integrate the arts into a comprehensive education, and the Lindemann Performing Arts Center is an important part of that vision,” Paxson said. “By supporting artistic scholarship and innovation in this truly one-of-a-kind space, Frayda Lindemann is helping the University create a distinctive home for generations of talented students, faculty, community members and guest artists.

According to a press release from Brown, Ms. Lindemann said that before her husband’s death, he looked forward to supporting the Performing Arts Center project, which will expand Brown’s ability to create and stage new and existing ones, to combine art forms and to welcome the world-renowned teachers and artists to learn from and inspire students in disparate fields of study. She said she and Paxson share the belief that the arts play a vital role, not only in institutions of higher learning, but also in communities around the world.

Frayda Lindemann obtained a doctorate. in musicology from Columbia University, and from 1980 to 1991 was associate professor of musicology and music history at Hunter College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. From 2012 to 2016, she chaired the board of directors of Opera America, an organization that serves more than 150 opera companies in the United States and Canada; she was the first board chairwoman in the organization’s history to never lead an opera company. The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, which develops some of the nation’s most talented young opera artists through training and performance opportunities, is the largest and most prestigious of its kind.

The couple’s history with Brown began when two of their children attended college in the 1980s. Two of their grandchildren also chose to attend Brown, “inspired in part by the previous generation’s positive experiences on the campus”.

“All of my children and grandchildren who attended Brown thrived there – it’s such a happy place,” Ms Lindemann said. “My husband was very keen to invest in a place that made our children and grandchildren into passionate people and creative thinkers. His generosity is the basis of our support for Brown, past and present.'”

Regarding the donation, Brown admitted that they were aware of young Lindemann’s conviction for killing the horse, but were unaware of the connection to environmental crime in Rhode Island.

“Brown has detailed policies and practices in place to guide our work with donors, including policies for accepting and naming gifts. Among the provisions, our policies clearly state that the acceptance of a gift n does not imply or imply that the University endorses or endorses any donor’s views, opinions, businesses, or activities. These policies and practices guided our decision-making, and we accepted this gift in full. trust,” Brian Clark, associate vice president for news and editorial development, said in a statement to GoLocal.

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