News and analysis
February 06, 2012

No. 20: David M. Rubenstein

Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post/Getty Images

David M. Rubenstein

Amount donated in 2011: $66.2-million

Biggest beneficiary: Duke University Libraries

Other key beneficiaries: Foundation for the National Archives, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, White House Historical Association

Donor’s background: Mr. Rubenstein is a co-founder and the managing director of the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, in Washington.

Mr. Rubenstein, 62, pledged $13.7-million to Duke University Libraries for the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, which has been named for the donor, who graduated from Duke in 1970. He serves as vice chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Rare manuscripts are something of a passion for Mr. Rubenstein. In 2007, he bought the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta, a 715-year-old English charter that scholars consider one of the most important legal documents in history, and has loaned it to the National Archives, in Washington, so the public can view it. In 2011, he pledged $13.5-million to the Foundation for the National Archives for a new exhibit gallery and visitor center at the Archives headquarters in Washington. The new spaces are scheduled to open in 2013.

The philanthropist also pledged $12-million to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, where he serves as chairman of the center’s Board of Directors. The money will be used to help the organization attract young and diverse audiences with subsidized tickets and other programs; it will also support the center’s opera programs and help pay for a new organ for the Concert Hall.

In addition, Mr. Rubenstein pledged $10-million to the White House Historical Association to upgrade the group’s Washington headquarters, the historic Decatur House, and to establish a center for White House history, an education and research institute that has been named for the donor. Mr. Rubenstein worked in the White House from 1977 to 1981 during the Carter administration, when he served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.

He also pledged a series of smaller gifts last year, including $5-million to the Council on Foreign Relations, $5-million to Harvard Business School, $4.5-million to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park for the zoo’s panda exhibit, and $2.5-million to the Library of Congress.

—Maria Di Mento

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View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2011.