Dossier: Keep Me a Prize
Who: Dan David, 73.
How he made his fortune: David is chairman and owns 18.2% of Photo-Me International, a $300-million photo-booth company.
How he's spending it: Taking his cue from dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, he plans to award the Dan David Prizes annually, through a foundation originally endowed with $100 million in Photo-Me stock.
The motivation: Immortality. "After 40 years of work, I thought I could perhaps give back to the world some of what has been given to me," says the Romanian-born entrepreneur from his penthouse in Rome.
The take: $3 million annually, split among three institutions or individuals that have excelled in fields related to the past, present, and future.
The first beneficiaries: A historic-research library in London, an American artificial-intelligence whiz, and a trio of biogeneticists.
What Andy Grove and the city of Rome have in common: They both came close to getting the prize. Bill Gates was nominated but didn't make the shortlist.
Winning isn't everything: Each recipient must give a total of $100,000 to young scholars at Tel Aviv University, which administers the prize, and at institutions of the winners' choice.
The most impressive board member: Henry Kissinger, who agreed to serve because of the Tel Aviv University affiliation. "I've been intensely concerned with the future of Israel," he says.
Following in the steps of Nobel, Dan David plans to glorify himself by giving money to others.
Hardest part about starting the program: The plunging price of shares in David's company. "The hope is that the Prize will go ahead forever, even if today the value of the endowment has certainly decreased," David says.
Things you can do to boost your chances of winning: "Peace in the Middle East, a cure for cancer, or the exploration of Mars," says David. "Or perhaps I would like to see a prize awarded for research in cryonics."
Cryonics?: "I want to be frozen, kept in liquid nitrogen, and possibly one day, when the illness that provokes my death is cured, be brought back to life," David says. He is applying for lifetime membership at the Arizona cryonics institution where, at this writing, Ted Williams's body is resting. The cost: $120,000 up front and $1,000 a year until death.
Fondest wish (and maybe an epitaph): Says David: "Think how nice it would be if I come back in 100 years and see what's happening in the world, with Photo-Me, with the Dan David Prize. I can dream about this possibility and go away with a smile. It's a hope; I pay for a hope."
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DONNA FENN | Inc.com Contributing Editor
Donna Fenn is the author of Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success, an exploration of the ways Gen Y is changing the entrepreneurial landscape.