Rare Stamps Auctioned for $1.6 million for Projects in Africa by PIMCO's Bill Gross


posted: June 18, 2008

The rare Finnish stamps which sold for $260,000

NEW YORK, June 19 —Proceeds from the sale of a rare collection of Scandinavian stamps were donated in order to expand development projects in Africa that will reach more than a half million people. Bill Gross, one of the world's most successful money managers, who has also made a name for himself in the world of philately, auctioned off the stamps through the Spink Shreves Galleries auction house in New York City for nearly $1.6 million. The donation, made by Sue and Bill Gross of Laguna Beach, California will go to the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), which is administered by the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

“We were thrilled with the auction results,” said Sue and Bill Gross. “The Millennium Villages Project reaches the poorest people throughout Africa and invests in their futures. We’re happy to play a part in their growth and will continue to follow the development of these villages.”

Currently MVP administers 80 villages in 10 different countries reaching roughly half a million people throughout sub-Saharan Africa. By taking an integrated approach to development; tackling hunger, disease and improving infrastructure and education, the project seeks to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, eight globally-agreed to targets aimed at reducing extreme poverty by the year 2015.

Mark Porterfield, a Gross family representative, with Teresa Karamanos of the Earth Institute.

“The Millennium Villages Project,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, “provides things like bed nets to fight malaria, seeds and fertilizer to increase food production, the building of schools and clinics, and safe water to the poorest places in Africa. The generous donation by Sue and Bill Gross will help empower hundreds of thousands to fight poverty and transform their lives. Through critical and creative ways, this donation will go to expanding the Project throughout the continent.”

The stamp collection contained 110 rare and several unique 19th and early 20th century Scandinavian stamps. It included a 142 year old unusual printing of a pair of rare Finnish stamps, tied to an intact folded domestic letter dating back to 1869.  “It’s one of the great philatelic rarities of Scandinavia and of the entire world that will now cause many good things to happen around the world,” said Charles Shreve of Spink Shreves.


The Millennium Villages project offers a bold, innovative approach for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals—global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability—by 2015, and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent

For Inquiries, Please Contact: Kyu Lee,, 212-851-0798