Letter: Boogie an icon of Aspen generosity

To Andy Stone:

After reading your recent commentary on Boogie Weinglass (“Perfectly phony turned into perfectly Aspen,” The Aspen Times, April 29), which included quotes from Mayor Steve Skadron, I feel I have a responsibility to respond as someone who has been at Weinglass’ side for the past three decades.

When Boogie came on the Aspen scene some 30 years ago, he built a building that changed the complexion of our town, which you and others referred to as “the Boogification of Aspen.” Frankly, at that time, I also was somewhat offended. But what also occurred was the birth of an icon the likes of which our city had not experienced. I can certainly list the voluminous donations, contributions and accomplishments such as The Buddy Program, which began 15 years ago with 13 to 15 kids. Today, the Buddy Program boasts more than 700 kids who have been helped, and its success is largely because of Boogie’s financing of the original program and its dedication to keeping the program alive and thriving by hosting and fundraising at the annual Buddy Program Bash party, which raises some $1 million at each event.

Perhaps what you and others don’t know is that Boogie does not seek notoriety or headlines, just as he didn’t when he spent $250,000 when he met a well-known local girl who was 13 years old at the time and whose face was genetically disfigured. He arranged for the cosmetic reconstruction of this girl’s face, who, with his help, was accepted to the medical school years later at Johns Hopkins University and is now a doctor.

Does anybody remember when Amanda Boxtel, a 27-year-old teacher at Aspen High School, met with a tragic ski accident some 20 years ago? Amanda was left completely paralyzed from the waist down and was relegated to a life in a wheelchair. Boggie entered the picture and, besides giving her emotional support, helped Amanda financially in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital, bought her a condo in Basalt and ordered a specially equipped car for Amanda to be mobile and independent.

It also should be noted that Boogie has donated large sums to the Neshama Center, which is run by Shlomo Ben-Hamoo’s sister, in addition to giving Sophia Ben-Hamoo, Shlomo’s daughter, a scholarship for $10,000.

Do all of these examples sound like the actions of a man who would sell his building for a very handsome sum and then attempt to renege on what you perceive as his financial responsibility, especially when all you hear is the one-sided version from Shlomo and when, at the moment, Boogie is instructed by his attorney not to comment?

Barry Gordon