Philanthropic 50: David Rubenstein

by Editorial

There are as many kinds of philanthropy as there are people. David Rubenstein may not have invented what he calls “patriotic giving” but he is currently its leading practitioner by a long shot. It began with a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta that he bought at auction in 2013 for $21.3 million and placed on permanent loan at the National Archives. That, he said, started him “buying other documents to give them to places where they can be seen.” But it’s not just historic documents. The New York Times said recently that Rubenstein “stands nearly alone in shoring up institutions generally under the purview of the federal government.” For example, he paid for half the restoration costs of the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument and has underwritten the new expansion to the Kennedy Center, now under construction. A $7 million gift to the Smithsonian helps support Bao Bao, the baby panda in the manner to which it is accustomed. Rubenstein has said he wants to give away all of his money in his lifetime. He recently said in an interview: “Most of the people that I know who have accumulated a lot of things but haven’t given away things are not that happy. The people that have given away their time, their energy,their ideas and their money are much happier.”

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