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Elliott Smith Foundation Or Elliott Smith Memorial Fund?

tribute show


There always has been so much confusion regarding the charities established by Elliott Smith and his family after his death. What we know for sure is that Elliott had established the Elliott Smith Foundation with drug counselor Jerry Schoenkopf and then-girlfriend Valerie Deerin to benefit abused children. The foundation went dormant when Elliott had drugs problem but in 2003, he was decided to resuscitate it. As a matter of fact, according to Jerry Schoenkopf and his assistant, Elliott had a meeting with Jerry on October 1st 2003 to finish up the paper work or what was necessary to do to create the Elliott Smith Foundation. It was exactly 20 days before he died, Jennifer Chiba was present at this meeting, but the foundation died with him.

Ashley, his half sister also explained:

‘The would-be Elliott Smith Foundation, which was supposed to be a charitable organization, essentially died with Elliott, before it ever got started.  Apparently when a person tries to start a 501c3 (or whatever the designation is for a charity organization,) it takes roughly a year for all of the paperwork to be filed, make its way through the courts, and finally be established as a legal and recognized charity. Elliott, with some help from a couple of other people (I believe Jerry was one of them), had started the paperwork for the organization a few months before he died, but I was told that he died before the paperwork had made it all the way through the process, and so the Elliott Smith Foundation never actually got started.  So as far as I know, there was never any money in that Foundation, since it never made it to the official status it would have needed to be to operate.  If there was money in some account, slated for the Foundation, I was not aware of it, and don’t know where that money might have landed, if there was any.’

Two few weeks after his death, a memorial show was held at the Henry Fonda theater with an astonishing line-up featuring Papa M, Tim Burgess, Beth Orton, Rilo Kiley, Future Pigeon, Alaska, Lou Barlow, Beck. Grandaddy and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst were also supposed to play but didn’t show up.

However, if you look at the ticket, it clearly says ‘all proceeds go to the Elliott Smith Foundation’,… a foundation which has never existed.

The problem is that Elliott’s family has established another trust following his death, called the ‘Elliott Smith Memorial Fund’, and once again this is what Ashley said:

‘Since the Elliott Smith Foundation was never able to get started, I decided to start the Elliott Smith Memorial Fund after he died, to try and act out his wishes in his absence. The ESMF, which is not a standalone charity (because that would have taken another year to set up,) funnels 100% of donations straight into established official charities that I think Elliott would have supported. I’m the one who organized and dealt with that fund, by creating a PO box to send donations to, and I wrote all the thank you notes, and passed along all of the checks to Free Arts for Abused Children.’

However the tickets were printed with ‘Elliott Smith Foundation’ and not ‘Elliott Smith Memorial Fund’ … does it matter? It brings at least some confusion. And to add to this already confused situation, both foundations had the same address, at Postalworks, with different PO Boxes:

Elliott Smith Memorial Fund, 2658 Griffith Park Blvd. #138, Los Angeles, CA 90039

The Elliott Smith Foundation, 2658 Griffith Park Blvd., #195, Los Angeles CA 90039.

So where did the money of the Henry Fonda show exactly go? A paypal account had even been opened for, but I bought my ticket with a credit card using Ticket web… Ashley was giving us updates of the money raised, and in January 2004, this is what she said:

‘I know that there are some checks on their way from recent benefit shows in Boston and Baltimore, and more from individuals trickle in everyday. So far a rough guess as to how much we’ve raised is about $23,000’

At that time, there had been several tribute gigs beside the Henry Fonda memorial show, which was probably the biggest one: at $20 the tickets with a capacity of about 1,200, this single fundraising should have already brought this sum, if we logically assume that the performers and the theater did not ask for any money. And 2 months later and many shows later, they only got $23,000? So again, where did the money go?

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