There¬†are a dozen billionaires living around Washington, but only one who‚Äôs become D.C.‚Äôs personal Daddy Warbucks: ..
The Carlyle Group co-founder is the go-to guy when it comes to big, historical projects: He gave $7.5 million to repair the Washington Monument, $75 million to the Kennedy Center, $4.5 million for the National Zoo pandas, and.‚ÄČ.‚ÄČ.well, you get the drift.
The latest beneficiary of his largess is the National Archives, which opened a new gallery in his name Wednesday night with one of the four surviving copies of the 1297 Magna Carta. Rubenstein paid $21.3 million for the document in 2007, then loaned it to the Archives and gave another $13. 5 million for a public space to showcase its history and influence.
‚ÄúIt was the inspiration for the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution,‚ÄĚ Rubenstein told the VIPs (Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Pat Leahy, noted donors and historians) at the opening reception. The rights of these documents, he said, were originally granted to white, male property owners: ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs happened over the ensuing 200 years is a struggle in our country to make these rights ‚ÄĒ that were said to be for everybody but really weren‚Äôt ‚ÄĒ actually for everybody.‚ÄĚ The new exhibit, titled ‚ÄúRecords of Rights,‚ÄĚ explains how the basic principles first spelled out 800 years ago were then applied to civil rights, the women‚Äôs movement and immigrants.
Rubenstein, who‚Äôs worth an estimated $2.5 billion, told us he supports projects that he has a personal connection to (he loves books, documents and history) and where he can launch or complete a big endeavor. ‚ÄúI try to find things where my money can get it started and others will follow, or finish something. Obviously, I can‚Äôt do everything that comes to me, but I try to be as careful as I can in finding the kind of things I can help with.‚ÄĚ
Buying the Magna Carta was right up his alley: Ross Perot put it up for auction and Rubenstein snapped it up to keep a copy in the United States. ‚ÄúIt was the most important document in Western Civilization,‚ÄĚ he said. But no, he can‚Äôt read the original and you probably can‚Äôt either: It‚Äôs written in itty bitty letters ‚ÄĒ in Medieval Latin.
Rubenstein said he would like to do more, but doesn‚Äôt have the resources of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. But he was one of the first 40 signers of their ‚ÄúGiving Pledge‚ÄĚ which requires him to donate at least half of his fortune to charity. So, yeah ‚ÄĒgood bet they‚Äôll be more red ribbons to cut.
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