“My life is devoted to this,” Gisele Bündchen told the Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald in 2015. The Brazilian supermodel was referring to her work with Luz Foundation, a charitable organization that Bündchen founded in 2007. The foundation was initially focused on developing opportunities for girls, and it later opened up to other humanitarian causes. The supermodel also later created the Luz Alliance Fund, in partnership with the Brazil Foundation, to provide low-resourced Brazilian families with support during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I know what people think: ‘This girl is only posing for the pictures’. But in my head, I think all the time: ‘Okay, if I take this job then I will have more money to invest in this project.’ So that’s what I’m doing.”
On October 28, Gisele Bündchen and American football player Tom Brady filed divorce papers in a court in Florida. The divorce ended 13 years of marriage that produced two children and a combined net worth of more than $700 million. Brady’s personal fortune is estimated at about $250 million, although it could be higher because of the sports and advertising revenue he has received throughout his career. Bündchen’s wealth is estimated at around $400 million, with annual income of between $30 million and $40 million. (for a time, she was the highest-paid model in the world.) Despite their impressive fortune, the divorce has revealed that the couple donated less than 0.1% of their wealth to charity between 2007 and 2019.
A series of public documents have shown that since 2007, their foundation, through which they collaborate with other non-profits, has given very modest donations to other NGOs. Various outlets have covered some of the most striking donations: the couple, who own a beachfront villa in Costa Rica, donated $300 to support a local environmental organization in 2018. According to their own tax records, the couple donated $1,000 to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to lead active lifestyles and compete in sporting events. Another $900 went to the World Wildlife Fund, allegedly one of the causes closest to Bündchen’s heart.
In total, the foundation chaired by Gisele Bündchen, Tom Brady and Peter Mattoon, an athlete and business manager who helps Brady with his investments and business activities, donated $640,402 to various organizations between 2007 and 2019, equivalent to less than 0.1% of the couple’s total wealth. Most of that money went to yoga and meditation centers. The Luz Foundation donated $80,000 to the Pointing Out the Great Way Foundation, a Massachusetts-based organization that supports Indo-Tibetan meditation, in 2019. The couple also donated $25,000 to the David Lynch Foundation, an organization based in New York and founded by the famous film director, which supports transcendental meditation and yoga in schools. In addition, they donated another $25,000 to the Waltham, Massachusetts-based You Go Girl Yoga Foundation.
More recently, between 2014 and 2015, Bündchen spent two years on the board of directors of the Alliance for Forests, a non-governmental organization with a presence in more than 70 countries that works to protect forests and biodiversity, act on climate, promote the rights and improve the livelihoods of the rural population. The model’s foundation donated $48,000 to the Alliance in 2014 and $25,000 in 2015.
In 2020, during the Covid pandemic, Brady and Bündchen donated 750,000 meals through a collaboration between their foundation and the Florida organization Feeding Tampa Bay. In light of the new information about the couple’s donations, some question whether the act was a publicity stunt, given that Brady had signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March of that same year.
The divorce between Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen has been described as “efficient” and “discreet.” Only 24 days elapsed between the revelation that both had hired family lawyers and the divorce filings. Although confirmation of the divorce ended widespread speculation about the state of their relationship, the future of the Luz Foundation is currently unclear.