If you are looking for the modern definition of a “Renaissance man,” you could find it in a dictionary — or, you could read about Andy Sabin.
Andy Sabin is a metal mogul, renowned benefactor and philanthropist for hundreds of causes. He is a Republican kingmaker, an environmental activist and among the most visible figures in the East End community. Sabin’s contributions to our region, Long Island, this nation and the world cannot be overstated.
His company, Sabin Metal Corporation, the world’s largest, privately owned precious metal refining company, refines and recycles gold, silver, platinum and palladium. These materials, which are in high demand for state-of-the-art technologies, help make everything from your smart device to high-grade military technology. They are also used by pharmaceutical companies and oil refineries. Sabin has made a career and a fortune in the industry — but sees his role in society as much larger.
Sabin’s Rolodex is a who’s who of America’s most influential leaders, but the only elected officials he supports are those who share his values. His goals are simple: By supporting responsible leadership, humankind and the Earth may provide future generations with climate-minded elected leaders. While one may not automatically assume that a significant Republican power player would propel the candidacies of the environmentally conscious, it is Sabin who is changing the modern definition of what it means to be a “Republican.”
“I am the chairman of Conserve America, a conservative conservation group, as well as the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, which has 11 Republican senators, who meet with 11 Democratic senators, sharing the same values on environmental responsibility,” Sabin says.
Senators Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Tim Scott; representatives Michael McCaul, Virginia Fox; North Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and George Pataki visited the beautiful East End upon his invitation.
“When the leaders come to the East End, they are amazed at the amount of protected open space. In East Hampton, we have been able to designate 38% of the town’s open land as permanent conservation. It is an accomplishment that I have been involved in and I am very proud of,” Sabin continues. “A lot of these elected officials are also happy to learn of what we are doing for the ocean, with sustainable fishing and other similar issues.”
Sabin sits on the boards of some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions. He has held leadership positions on the Law Advisory Board of the Columbia School of Law, the UCLA School of Law, and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. In addition, he has helped underwrite and fund the development of medical institutions, including the M.D. Anderson Care Center at the University of Texas, and has funded cancer research at Sloan Kettering.
“I’ve just completed a cardiac research center, and a men’s wellness center at Columbia-Presbyterian that will shape medical care for future generations,” Sabin says.
He has helped advance women’s health in Kenya, and he has a new project planned in Tanzania. His contributions have afforded countless women access to essential healthcare.
And, despite such a portfolio of giving and philanthropy, Sabin is far from finished.
“My favorite saying is: Every day above ground is a good day. I give out thousands of bracelets that people wear as a reminder that when they wake up in the morning, they are blessed. Just be thankful that you woke up and you’re healthy,” Sabin says.
Year-round, Sabin resides in Amagansett with his family, and his commitment to the East End has been on display. His efforts helped fund and develop the East Hampton YMCA, which has afforded local youth the ability to play and learn and has serviced senior citizens. He is also a co-founder and president of the South Fork Natural History Museum, which funds conservation education.
“One of my favorite things in life is to take young kids in the field, to hike in the woods and see the smile on their face when they see the beauty of nature. I have taken over 100 underprivileged youth and their families into the forest — it was so heartwarming to help inspire the next generation to help save the planet,” Sabin says.
On his environmental expeditions, Sabin has gone around the world. From Papua New Guinea to Australia, and 104 other countries, Sabin has been involved in the discovery of new species, with a particular affinity for reptiles and amphibians.
Sabin has more than 14 different species named after him, including the Peruvian frog — the 7,000th known amphibian species — which is also known as the Sabin glass frog. This month, a new shark species was discovered in Madagascar and named after Sabin. The dwarf lemur of Madagascar also bears his name.
“When you name an animal species, it is forever. It is the only thing that will exist in perpetuity,” Sabin says. “I’ve also started to find lost species and name them for very dear friends. If you want to ensure that you give a unique gift, name a species after someone.”
All in all, if there is one word that Sabin wants to be defined by, it is “compassionate.” He adds, “I am on Earth to save lives and the planet. I don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery. I don’t care if I die poor, just so long as I have done something to save lives and save the planet.”