A virtual summit that was supposed to be centered around the topic of philanthropy and claimed to have secured some some big star power to participate, has been revealed as a fake.
Thrive Philanthropy, a small consulting firm based in Utah, had been advertising a star-studded event that would feature celebs including George and Amal Clooney as ‘keynote speakers’, actress Charlize Theron, Golden Gate Warriors’ Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha alongside actor Matthew McConaughey.
However, the PR firm that was to promote the event has now revealed that no such event is happening.
A website had claimed to have secured A-list celebs to speak on the topic of philanthropy in an exclusive ‘virtual’ two-day summit
George and Amal Clooney who are well known for their philanthropy are said to be calling for an investigation after their names were used to promote the event without their knowledge
Actress Charlize Theron had also been billed as a ‘keynote speaker’ at the event
A website had been set up inviting journalists to attend the ‘two day virtual Connect Summit’, promising to ‘educate, enlighten and engage on the most crucial and urgent global issues.’
‘The event will feature the who’s who in the non-profit and philanthropy circuit, including keynote speakers who include Matthew McConaughey, Stephen, and Ayesha Curry, George and Amal Clooney, Ashton Kutcher, Charlize Theron, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Camilla Alves, and Julie Cordua,’ a press release promoting the summit read.
Tickets were being sold for $399 each with some as high as $1,799 according to Deadline.
However, after the story was published, the website was stripped and the facility to purchase tickets was removed.
Actress Blake Lively and husband Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. The couple have said they ‘were not aware of this event or confirmed to participate’
The PR firm, Wunderlich Kaplan, who had been hired to plug the flashy conference has since learned that no celebrities appear to have been booked and that all information related to the event appears to be ‘fraudulent’.
‘While something like this has never happened at our agency of over 20 years, it seems that we were hired to launch a conference that was built on lies,’ Kaplan wrote in a statement.
‘Regrettably, due to fraudulent information provided to us by our client Stephanie Lapensee the founder of Thrive Philanthropy, the creator of the Connect Summit, our agency, Wunderlich Kaplan Communications no longer represents this project.’
‘We are horrified about the situation and will be working diligently to make sure that all information put out there is corrected. Thank you for your understanding. It’s all pretty unbelievable as we still have not heard back from Ms. Lapensee.’
DailyMail.com has also reached out to Lapensee for comment.
Among the recognizable names were Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and wife Ayesha who have also denied any participation in the event
Some of the celebrities that had been billed as being involved in the event have since released statements in relation to the total non-event.
‘There are ads running claiming that Amal and I will be participating in the Thrive Philanthropy’s Connect Summit. We Have never heard of this summit and have never been approached to be part of a charity that is charging $399.00 for people to participate. When we contacted the company in charge they said it was a mistake and would take our names off,’ George Clooney wrote in a statement.
‘We don’t know whether this charity is what it says it is and was just duped by a booking agency or whether there is something more nefarious involved. The best antiseptic is sunlight, and in the interest of protecting the public and the many important charitable organizations we hope that this situation will be rigorously investigated,’ Clooney continued.
Other celebs given a billing included Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively. The couple have said they ‘were not aware of this event or confirmed to participate.’
The Connect Summit also claimed to have secured Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves
Stephen and Ayesha Curry have also stated that they ‘were never a part of this event.’
The Connect Summit also claimed to have David Simas, the CEO of the Obama Foundation, speaking and Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, hosting a panel.
The premise has echoes of the infamous Fyre Festival of 2017 which was a fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, pictured
Both have confirmed that neither are taking part in such an event.
Others speakers that had been billed as being involved, according to the website, were Peter Buffett, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett and his wife Jennifer.
At one stage, Deadline tells how the Summit was offering ‘a gift bag, exclusive access to sessions, morning yoga sessions and lunch/dinner with celebrity chef Curtis Stone.’
The premise has echoes of the infamous Fyre Festival of 2017 which was a fraudulent luxury music festival founded by Billy McFarland, of Fyre Media and rapper Ja Rule.
It was created with the intent of promoting the company’s Fyre app for booking music talent.
The festival was scheduled to take place in the Bahamas and was promoted on Instagram by social media influencers who later revealed they had been paid to do so.
Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals for which festival attendees paid thousands of dollars for, they received prepackaged sandwiches and FEMA tents as their accommodation.
Fyre festival was heavily promoted on social media and billed as ‘the cultural experience of the decade’ touting plush villas and gourmet food. However, the project completely fell apart due to lack of funds, and guests arrived at a barren island with inadequate food, water, or shelter
McFarland was blamed for the failure of the highly-anticipated music festival which was set to take place in the Bahamian island of Exuma over the course of two weekends in 2017
Celebrities including Elsa Hosk, Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, Lais Ribeiro, Gizele Oliveira and Rose Bertram, pictured left to right, were also paid to promote the event on Instagram