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Miami Art Museum donor Jorge Perez
Miami Art Museum donor Jorge Perez


Feb. 6, 2012

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The Chronicle of Philanthropy released its annual list of the top 50 donors in America today, 12 of which are big players in the arts. The 50 philanthropists gave a total of $10.4 billion last year, with cultural institutions getting a total of more than $213 million from the 12 arts patrons.

The Chronicle singled out the biggest individual gifts to cultural institutions: Arthur and Margaret Glasgow’s $70 million donation to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Philip and Patricia Frost’s $35 million gift to the Miami Science Museum, Jorge Perez’s $30 million for the Miami Art Museum, and Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest’s multiple gifts of $30 million for an “arts complex” at Columbia University and $5 million for the Barnes Foundation.

Yet the Los Angeles Times points out that the Chronicle’s totals for the arts may be misleadingly low. For instance, the list’s number-one donor, the late Margaret Cargill, gave $6 billion to her own foundation, which supports Native American and folk art, but isn’t categorized as an arts organization in itself. And Eli and Edythe Broad, massive supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gave $27 million to their own Broad Foundations, which includes an average annual donation of $4.8 million to the arts. And then there’s Leslie and Abigail Wexner’s contribution of $65 million to Ohio State University, which includes an earmark for the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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