RBG Award gala scrapped after Ginsburg family and past recipient Barbra Streisand object to honorees

This year's awardees included men for the first time, including Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch.

An awards gala to be held in the name of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been canceled after strong objections from Ginsburg's family, past recipient Barbra Streisand, and others over this year's crop of honorees.

The Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, which bestows the awards, raised eyebrows and drew criticism when it revealed the recipients last week: controversial tech billionaire Elon Musk, conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, "junk bond king" Michael Milken, lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, and actor Sylvester Stallone.

While the name of the honor had been changed from the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award to the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Leadership Award earlier this year in the name of equality, critics noted that four of the five picks were men. Two, Milken and Stewart, were also convicted felons.

In a statement announcing the cancellation of the ceremony, Opperman Foundation chairman Julie Opperman said, "Keeping in mind that our goal is only to do good, the Foundation is not interested in creating controversy. It is not interested in generating a debate about whether particular honorees are worthy or not. And while Justice Ginsburg's concept of EQUALITY for women was very controversial for most of her life, the Foundation does not intend to enter the fray. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg was known for her civility."

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty</p> Barbra Streisand and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Kevin Mazur/Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Barbra Streisand and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The statement continued: "It is important to note, that the last thing we intended was to offend the family and friends of RBG. Our purpose was only to remember her and to honor her leadership. And, while we believe each of the honorees are worthy of our respect for their leadership and their notable contributions, the Foundation has decided that the planned ceremony in April 2024 will be cancelled."

After the recipients were announced last week, Ginsburg's daughter Jane said in a statement to the New York Times that the choices were "an affront to the memory of our mother."

"The justice's family wish to make clear that they do not support using their mother's name to celebrate this year's slate of awardees and that the justice's family has no affiliation with and does not endorse these awards," she continued.

On Monday, Streisand, who received the honor last year, joined Ginsburg's family in condemning the choice of this year's recipients. In an Instagram post, the singer and actress said that she was "proud" to have received the award "in memory of one of the most esteemed public figures in American history."

She added, "Justices Ginsburg and [Sonia] Sotomayor stand as two of the most respected women role models, and their commitment to democratic values, especially women's rights, is unequaled. That's why I join the Ginsburg family in condemning the choice of honorees this year. I had the privilege of meeting Justice Ginsburg on several occasions, and I strongly doubt she would approve of these awardees."

Julie Opperman said that the foundation will "reconsider its mission and make a judgment about how or whether to proceed in the future."

The RBG Award was first given out in 2020, to philanthropist and arts patron Agnes Gund, by Ginsburg herself. It has also honored Queen Elizabeth II and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

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