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Actor Morgan Freeman is scheduled to put in an appearance at the San Diego Yacht Club on October 23, where he will be inducted as chairman of the honorary advisory board of the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame of Annapolis, Maryland, succeeding the late newsman Walter Cronkite, another celebrity sailor.

But the really big name connected to the event is that of Bill Koch.

The non-profit sailing center is bankrolled in part by a $300,000 gift from Kansas-born oil billionaire Koch, the successful 1992 America’s Cup defender who has many close ties to San Diego’s big-money sailing scene and still spends time here.

When he was vying for the cup in the early 90s, Koch leased a posh house on San Diego Bay steps away from the yacht club in Point Loma and placed a large bronze nude by famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero in his yard for the public to view.

He subsequently lent 150 of the works of art he had furnished his temporary Point Loma residence with to La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art, including paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, and Pablo Picasso.

Another Koch hobby is his $12 million collection of 40,000 bottles of vintage wine. A famous womanizer, he's been through expensive divorces.

Koch, his money, women, and politics were the subject of a lengthy August profile in the Village Voice.

His brothers, Charles and David, with whom he has had a rocky relationship over the years, are big Tea Party backers, but not Bill, according to the story.

“He donates tens of thousands of dollars to mainstream Republican candidates such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, but doesn't publicize his opposition to Barack Obama.

“Rather than fund Tea Party groups, he gives money to impoverished kids in Palm Beach County and to hospitals and schools in Colorado, where he has another home. In September, he will open a private high school in West Palm Beach, Oxbridge Academy.”

UPDATE, 10-17 : A spokeswoman for the event says Freeman will not be attending due to a scheduling conflict. She adds, "Media mogul Ted Turner, local sailing greats Dennis Conner and Lowell North, surfboard industry pioneer Hobie Alter and Whitbread Round the World winning skipper Paul Cayard are among those inductees who will be in attendance."

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monaghan Oct. 14, 2011 @ 8:34 p.m.

Is he friends with big sailer and America's Cup backer Malin Burnham? Maybe he can contribute to the warchest of San Diego Foundation and Burnham and friends who are going to help San Diego get a "vision."


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