Seeing foreign donations to U.S. arts groups in new light

Posted on: October 15, 2019

“Vladimir O. Potanin, a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in banking and natural resources, has been a donor and board member of the Guggenheim Museum since 2002,” writes Graham Bowley in Sunday’s (10/6) New York Times. “More recently he gave $6.45 million to the Kennedy Center in Washington…. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, rich Russians have emerged as influential patrons of the arts and Western cultural organizations have often been the beneficiaries. Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center are among those who have received gifts from moneyed Russians or the companies they control over the past decade…. There is little evidence that their donations have been directed or coordinated by Moscow. But they all enjoy good relations with the Kremlin [creating] something of a minefield for American cultural organizations, many of which depend on philanthropic support…. [Oligarch Viktor F.] Vekselberg and his company, Renova Group, had been among the entities slapped with sanctions by the United States Treasury…. In a 2017 accounting, a Renova official said the company had spent $13.5 million on ‘arts and culture’ in the nine years ending in 2016.”

Posted October 15, 2019