When David M. Rubenstein turned 54, he read that white Jewish males were likely to live to 81. “So I said, ‘I have 27 years to go,’ ” Mr. Rubenstein said. “I could be like the pharaohs and say, ‘Bury me with my money.’ Or I could start giving it away.”
Mr. Rubenstein, who turned 60 last month, has spent the last six years doing just that. Having amassed a fortune worth $2.7 billion, according to Forbes, as managing director of the Carlyle Group, the heavyweight private equity concern that he helped found in 1987, he currently serves on the boards of about 30 major institutions and says he donates generously to all of them.
Now Mr. Rubenstein has given $10 million to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for its $1.2 billion redevelopment project. In appreciation, the center’s new visitors’ and ticket space on Broadway — scheduled to open Nov. 24 — will be named the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. The redesigned indoor space, between 62nd and 63rd Streets and running from Broadway to Columbus Avenue, was formerly known as the Harmony Atrium.
“You can go there and get discounted tickets, and there will be free concerts,” he said in an interview on Tuesday at Lincoln Center. “I thought it was a very good idea.”
Like movie stars, philanthropists have their golden periods, when they are in ascent and in demand. By that measure, this is Mr. Rubenstein’s moment. In the same year, 2004, he joined the boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and of Lincoln Center, where he is now vice chairman. In May he was named to the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, its Congressionally appointed governing body.
Mr. Rubenstein is also on the boards of Duke University in Durham, N.C., where he earned his bachelor’s degree; the University of Chicago, where he earned his law degree; and Johns Hopkins University, which is in his hometown, Baltimore.
He underwrites scholarships for Washington students — Mr. Rubenstein himself lives in Bethesda, Md. — and is on the board of, among others, the Council on Foreign Relations, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Asia Society, Ford’s Theater and the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.