News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 40: David M. Rubenstein

Ricky Carioti/Washington Post/Getty Images

David M. Rubenstein

Amount donated in 2010: $26.6-million

Biggest beneficiaries: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Chicago Law School

Other key beneficiaries: Library of Congress and the Foundation for the National Archives

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, 61, pledged $10-million, of which $2-million has been paid, to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, where he serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Of the total, Mr. Rubenstein has earmarked $5-million to support the National Symphony Orchestra and to celebrate the tenure of Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra’s new music director. The donor directed $2.5-million to support a significant production each year, to be called the Rubenstein Program; $1.5-million for an arts-education program for students in kindergarten through high school; and $200,000 for activities such as the Kennedy Center Honors awards and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and others.

Mr. Rubenstein plans to pay the remainder of the pledge at an annual rate of $2-million over the next four years.

In addition, Mr. Rubenstein pledged $10-million to the University of Chicago Law School for full-tuition scholarships. He has paid $500,000 toward the pledge and plans to pay off the rest over the next five years. Mr. Rubenstein, who has served on the university’s Board of Trustees since 2007, earned a law degree at the university in 1973.

A self-made billionaire, Mr. Rubenstein said he gave the donation because the law school gave him an opportunity that he would like others to have and because he wants to help the law school compete with peer institutions to attract the best students.

Mr. Rubenstein also pledged $5-million, of which $1-million has been paid, to the Library of Congress, in Washington, to help support the library’s annual National Book Festival and for reading programs. The remainder of the pledge will be paid over the next four years at $1-million annually.

He also gave $1-million to the Foundation for the National Archives, in Washington, to build a new display case for the Magna Carta, a 714-year-old English charter that is considered one of the most important legal documents in history.

When H. Ross Perot put the Magna Carta document up for auction in 2007, Mr. Rubenstein jumped at the chance to buy it, wanting to ensure this copy—the only one in the United States, stayed in the country. He bought the document for $21.3-million at a Sotheby’s auction and has lent it indefinitely to the National Archives.

In addition to those gifts, Mr. Rubenstein gave many smaller donations in 2010, including $350,000 to the Economic Club of Washington; $170,000 to the D.C. Public Education Fund, in Washington; and $128,000 to Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area.

—Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.