Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Closer Look at the Gygax Memorial Fund - Why Does it Seem to be Spinning Its Wheels?

With yesterday's news that Gail Gygax was asserting her rights to the Gygax name (and pushing the Gygax sons from the new TSR board) it got me thinking about the Gygax Memorial Fund. It's strange how Gail and her legal legal team can be so involved in protecting the Gygax name when it's used by family but there has been little if any recent movement on the side of the Gygax Memorial Fund.

What do I mean?

The Fund's website is rarely updated, so I went to Facebook. On the Fund's Facebook page, we have this update from nearly a year ago:

So, the sale of bricks is going to help fund the memorial. How many brinks? There has to be a low end number. It's nearly a year later. No footprint has been finalized?

Actually, this very article says there's going to be about 250 bricks. The maintenance fund requires $25k (as per the linked article). Do the math at home...

The following is from November 6th, 2013. Its from the Lake Geneva Board of Parks Commissioners Minutes.

and from December 4th, 2014

Gail's been talking bricks for 2 years now. The footprint is 10x10. Sure, some space is going to be covered by the base of the statue but how many bricks does she expect to sell?  How much is the statue? (actually, in the above article Gail estimates the statue / memorial at $250k)

Holy shit! $250k for the piece pictured above? Someone is getting robbed. I guess those bricks will need to be priced using "new math."

How much money does the fund currently have? Damned if I know. The last tax return posted on the Fund's website is for 2012 and it lists $129,162 in net assets. $123,196 was raised in 2012 alone, which means it carried over less than $6k from 2011. Why the huge bump in funds? Safe to assume it's from the sale of the AD&D 1e reprints by WotC. No, wait, that can't be right. The reprints went on sale in 2013 so that huge shot in the arm was from elsewhere. The fund must be sitting in mountains of money after WotC donated a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the reprints.

In 2012 Gen Con had a Gygax Memorial Fund Auction. That must be where the 2012 donations came from, right?

Nope, just a drop in the bucket.

Anyhow, why no posted tax returns for 2013 and 2014?

Laziness? Perhaps. There doesn't seem to be much effort to get eyes on the Gygax Memorial Fund website. The last update on the website appears to be from June 12th of this year.

Incompetence? Not likely. Certainly not if the same legal team is helping with the fund that is steering Gail's iron grip on the Gygax legacy.

Something else? Perhaps. Earlier this morning I sent the Gygax Memorial Fund a request for the Tax Documents related to 2013 and 2014. Those tax returns are supposed to be available to the public.

See, if 2013 and 2014 were posted on the Fund's website, I wouldn't have to make such a request.

I'll post more as I dig more. At the moment I can't figure out why the sale of bricks hasn't happened yet. If and when I get the tax returns I'll post that info also.

Earlier article from April 10th, 2014 for those interested:


  1. Thanks for following up on this. I'm afraid that the funds have gone to fund her litigations against Gary's children. At this point I think it doubtful that anyone else is going to drop money into that woman's clutching hands. It all strikes me as very shady.

    1. My instincts agree with you. I'll give the fund a week to get back to me before contacting her lawyers and the fund's accountant.

  2. "Gygax said her goal is to encourage more families to kplay more games together. 'You game together, you stay together,' she said."

    Oh the irony.

  3. This is just sad. Why is she forcing her kids out of the business? What have they done? Something that would besmirch the Gygax name?

    Gary would roll over in his grave over this nonsense, the last thing this humble man wanted would be some Obelix raised to him. From all stories I've ever heard about him and the few times I met him he would've just fine with someone planting a tree and a plaque and call it a day.

    1. they aren't her kids, they are her step-kids

    2. They are still Gary's kids and still have the last name of Gygax.

      Unless there is some background drama growing up that was never shared with the public we aren't seeing.

    3. the trust controlling Gary's works and legacy is under Gail's legal authority, not theirs

  4. Gail Gygax posted on Facebook link to this post:

    Gail Carpenter Gygax The GMF is a 501c 3 Corp. So all of you can check the public information.

    So rest assured no one has "sucked" any money out of the fund. There are no salaries paid, I have taken no money for my countless hours of working with the parks board, architect, sculptor and various others to provide the work necessary to build this tribute to Gary.

    I would love to see Garys fans contribute both in spirit and small donations to honor his wonderful contribution to their lives and the world. Ask your fellow gamer "Have you given to Garys Statue?

    So let's join together and all pitch in to help. My sister and I would really love to hear from you. Be positive and rest assured, Garys statue will be built! Happy Thanksgiving.

    (as an aside, I now have the 2013 tax info from an anon source - looking at it now)

    1. I wouldn't pitch her a pile of mud to help out after she forced his kids out of the TSR board. They have much more claim to the name than she does, hell they have much more claim to his legacy than she does. They are actively trying to put into the gaming community by being out there and doing things. Not sitting behind a bunch of lawyers and grabbing up everything she can.

    2. the fund ended 2013 with $222k

      how much does this memorial need, especially with the sometime in the future "brick sale"?

    3. She wants much more than a statue, she wants a damn exhibit hall and memorial dedicated to him.

    4. And beneath that exhibit hall they shall build a veritable labyrinth complete with minotaur and beholder.

  5. The woman's a crook, plain and simple.

    1. Ken Whitman is a crook (allegedly ;)

      Gail is just a bitter woman who is getting bad advice and doesn't know how to deal with people.

  6. It seems like this is a family matter for them to sort out, not the general public.

    1. Maybe they should stop asking the general public for money then.

      If you put your hand out, you invite scrutiny.

  7. Dear god that statue design is terrible.

    1. Yes, it demonstrates eye-poppingly bad taste.

      "A tree and a plaque" for Gary is looking better and better.

  8. Still think a life size Tomb of Horrors would be a better tribute.

  9. I thought part of the sale of the reprint 1st edition books with new covers by WotC was to also go to the memorial.

    I also think that monument is a bit much - with regards to keeping it as vandalism free as possible. A nice bronze bust on top of a short granite, limestone, or marble obelisk with engravings of said dungeon entrance, a dragon, and some polyhedral dice would, and a plaque, would be more than enough in my eye. And even that might be an embarrassment of riches for the esteemed Mr. Gygax.

    (having said that, I second the Tomb of Horrors idea!)


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