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Fundraiser aims to replace Ady Gil anti-whaling trimaran

The sleek vessel collided with a Japanese whaling ship last week. It was used by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose work is featured in the reality series 'Whale Wars.'

January 10, 2010|By Louis Sahagun
  • "I won't let them take me down," says Ady Gil, at his Woodland Hills home. "I'm going to build another ship, an improved version."
"I won't let them take me down," says Ady Gil, at his Woodland… (Ann Johansson / Los Angeles…)

With the snap of his fingers, entertainment industry executive Ady Gil can summon the artisans and technology to build stage facilities for Hollywood television productions and movie premieres.

On Saturday, they helped him again with an unusual and hastily called assignment: a fundraiser at his spacious Woodland Hills home to raise the $3 million to $5 million needed to replace a sleek anti-whaling trimaran that collided with a Japanese whaling ship last week.

Gil financed the purchase of the now-sunken vessel, later renamed after him, by the militant environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for its campaign to interfere with whaling, a saga at the center of Animal Planet's "Whale Wars" reality series.

The Gil had yet to sink to the bottom of the Southern Ocean on Wednesday when the first plea for donations was issued by its operator, Sea Shepherd. On Thursday, Gil launched preparations for the event aimed at building a "bigger, better, faster ship for our cause."

"I won't let them take me down," he vowed. "I'm going to build another ship, an improved version."

Will there be an Ady Gil II? That remains to be seen.

Steve Roest, chief executive officer of Sea Shepherd, said he welcomed Gil's financial assistance, but "for legal and tax reasons, we have to leave our options open."

Those options, he said, could include acquiring a vessel and naming it the Ady Gil II.

"We'd be crazy not to," he said. "The Ady Gil is on people's lips around the world. Within the first 1 1/2 hours after the Japanese whaler rammed it, more than 300,000 people downloaded the video of the collision on YouTube."

Beyond that, he said, "Ady Gil is one of the biggest donors Sea Shepherd ever had." Another is game-show host and producer Bob Barker, who has donated $5 million to the group.

Early donations Saturday were far more modest. Topanga landscaper Ron Corona said he was honored to support the cause and chipped in $100. Entertainment industry hair stylist Jason Newell also donated $100. One man donated $50,000, according to Gil.

Gil said he doubted he would hear from what he called "big-gun" Hollywood donors on short notice. But of the 600 people invited, he expected about 200 would come aboard. Each paid $50 to attend the event capped with vegan hors d'oeuvres, music supplied by a DJ and a special announcement.

"I'm going to protest the incident on the steps of the Japanese Embassy in Los Angeles," Gil said. "If I'm the only one there, I don't care."

The 78-foot carbon-fiber vessel was purchased less than a year ago by Sea Shepherd with a $1-million donation from Gil, co-owner of American Hi Definition Inc., a company specializing in design and construction of production facilities for television programs.

"The Ady Gil was the only ship we had," Roest said, "that was fast enough to keep up with any ship in Japan's fleet."

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

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