David Geffen Donates $100 million to Lincoln Center

Geffen won the naming rights to the Avery Fisher Hall (right) as part of his $100 million pledge in 2015. Photo: Nils Olander via Wikimedia Commons

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York announced on Wednesday that the Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed the David Geffen Hall, after the music and entertainment mogul pledged to donate $100 million towards the renovation of the home of the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The naming rights to the famous classical music venue were recently made available to help fund an extensive refurbishment expected to cost over $500 million. The renovation is slated to start in 2019, but the building will be renamed already this year, with the start of the Philharmonic’s 2015-16 season.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lincoln Centre chairperson, Katherine Farley, said she approached Geffen, whom she knows socially, over a possible donation. “We talked about a lot of different ways he might get involved with Lincoln Center,” she said. Taking over the naming rights of the Avery Fisher Hall “seemed like […] the perfect match between David and us […] He jumped at the idea, and said yes right away.”

Brooklyn-born Geffen said in a statement “as a native New Yorker, I recognize that Lincoln Center is a beacon to artists and musicians around the world. To be involved with such a beloved and iconic institution is deeply satisfying.”

According to the New York Times since stepping away from the entertainment industry in 2008 the Los Angeles-based billionaire has shifted his focus towards philanthropy. Describing himself as an “arts junkie,” Geffen has already given hundreds of millions of dollars to various organizations in Los Angeles that now bear his name, including the Geffen Playhouse, the Geffen Contemporary, and the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

While $100 million is no joke, Geffen has sold art for significantly more. In 2008, Artnews reported that Geffen had “scored $143.5 million from the sale of two works from his collection.” He parted with Willem de Kooning’s 1955 Police Gazette, which went to hedge fund manager Steve Cohen for $63.5 million, and Jasper Johns’s False Start(1959), which was sold to another major collector and hedge fund operator, Kenneth Griffin, for $80 million.


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