Washington Monument Donor Explains Why He Gave $7.5 Million Gift

Business leader a history buff

Thursday, Jan 19, 2012  |  Updated 10:37 PM EDT
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A businessman donates $7.5 million to repair the Washington Monument.

A businessman donates $7.5 million to repair the Washington Monument.

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Rubenstein: I Want to Repay a Debt

Donor David Rubenstein explains why he gave $7.5 million to the Park Service to restore the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument Inspection Helmet Cam

The National Park Service released video recorded by the daredevil climbers that inspected the monument's damage.
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The National Park Service announced a private donor has stepped in to pay for half of the $15 million it needs to repair the Washington Monument.

On Thursday morning, billionaire businessman David Rubenstein said he gave the $7.5 million gift to the Park Service to repay a debt to his country.

"I don't think I want to be buried with my wealth.  I don't want my executor to give it all away," Rubenstein said, speaking in front of the monument.  "I'd like to have the pleasure of giving it away to things that I think are good while I am alive."

He continued, "As with the Magna Carta and other things that I've done, I kind of want to repay a debt I have to the country.  That's really what's behind it."

Rubenstein purchased a copy of the Magna Carta in 2007, which will go on display in the National Archives in February.   The 62-year-old co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, has made a number of large gifts in recent years to Washington's cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center.

Last month, Rubenstein gave $4.5 million to the National Zoo to fund its giant panda reproduction program for five more years.

On Thursday morning, Rubenstein said the Washington Monument had originally been built using private donations, totaling $1 million.

Rubenstein said private citizens had helped build the monument once, and he'd like to help repair the monument for future Americans.

"I thought, because it's such an important symbol of our country, if I could help in some modest way I would like to do so," he told News4.

The Park Service said repair work will start this year, and they hope to be able to reopen to the public in 2013.
 

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