Israeli Tycoon Eyal Ofer Donates £10 Million to London's Tate Modern

Ellie Armon Azoulay
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Ellie Armon Azoulay

Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, who lives in Monaco, recently donated £10 million (NIS 55 million) toward the £215 million expansion project of the Tate Modern museum in London. In appreciation of his donation, the Tate Modern will name the three eastern galleries on the third floor after Ofer.

Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate Modern, said "It is exciting to see such outstanding philanthropy continuing from one generation to the next."

Ofer said in response that for him it is a privilege to support the development project, which will enable the institution to enrich the experience and the access to modern art for a larger audience of visitors from the United Kingdom and beyond.

Ofer, 63, has divided the family business empire with his brother Idan since the death of their father, Sammy Ofer, in June 2011. As well as his involvement in shipping, Ofer also controls a real estate portfolio, Global Holdings. According to Forbes magazine last year, his wealth is estimated at $6 billion, putting him among the 200 wealthiest people in the world (no. 198 last year).

Slated to be concluded in 2015 or 2016, the development will expand the museum by 60 percent. The project is now 15 percent short of its total funding.

The Tate Modern is considered one of the most frequently visited exhibition spaces in Britain, with a record 5.3 million visitors last year. Fundraising for the expansion project has to date included £50 million from the government, £7 million from the Greater London Authority and the rest from private sources such, including £5 from the Wolfson Foundation.

In the past Sami Ofer offered a $20 million donation to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for a new building, provided that the museum be renamed after him and his wife Aviva. The offer drew great public criticism, due to which Ofer decided to cancel the donation, but not far from there he built the large Sammy Ofer Heart Building in Ichilov Hospital (the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center), which is, of course, named after him.

Eyal Ofer (right) and an artist's impression of the exterior of the new development of Tate Modern in London.Credit: Iliya Melinkov and AP
The exterior of Tate Modern in London.Credit: Bloomberg