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Blackstone’s Studzinski to Give Tate $1.57 Million More

John Studzinski
John Studzinski, senior managing director of Blackstone Group LP. Photographer: Adam Berry/Bloomberg

John Studzinski, senior managing director of Blackstone Group LP and a benefactor of Tate Modern, said he’s giving the London museum another 1 million pounds ($1.57 million) to help pay for its new wing.

The U.S.-born banker-philanthropist pledged 5 million pounds in May 2007 toward the planned 215 million pound extension. Its construction was stalled until this year because of a financing shortage. He’s now helping Tate raise the final quarter of the building’s costs, or about 50 million pounds.

“We had the world economic crisis in 2008, which made fundraising almost come to a complete halt,” Studzinski said in a breakfast interview at London’s Wolseley restaurant. “During that period of 2008 and what followed, we made a number of contacts with a lot of people.”

“Many of those people want to give to the Tate,” he said, citing potential donors from continental Europe, Asia (including India) and Russia.

Studzinski said he’s part of a new group of Tate benefactors who are contributing 1 million pounds each to form a select circle of patrons. His name is already on two of the Tanks, the inaugural spaces in the new extension.

Tate Director Nicholas Serota welcomed the gift.

“I am delighted,” he said in an e-mailed comment, “that John Studzinski has pledged a further 1 million pounds, on top of his existing generous gift to Tate, in support of an initiative that we will be developing in the autumn to complete the fundraising for Tate Modern.”

Morgan Stanley

Studzinski, 56, spent 22 years at Morgan Stanley and three at HSBC Holdings Plc before joining Blackstone. He is based in London and New York.

This year, the banker is giving 4 million pounds to U.K. non-profit institutions. They include The Passage, a homeless day center he helped found. Through his Genesis Foundation, Studzinski also offers regular support to The Royal Court Theatre, the Young Vic, and the Royal College of Art.

He recently became chairman of Create, a non-profit organization that takes the arts into London’s less privileged east and had a 2012 budget of 1.7 million pounds. A highlight of the current program is a show by photographer David Bailey, who was born in East London. Create’s main sponsor is Deutsche Bank AG.

Studzinski is spearheading an initiative called Create Jobs, which offers young people 250 paid two-month placements in the creative industries in East London.

Studzinski said the U.K. ought to simplify its tax system to encourage giving by a wider spectrum of donors.

Mittal’s Olympics

“There’s a constituency of very wealthy people who will continue to be generous,” said Studzinski. “Looking at Mr. Mittal’s very generous contribution to the Olympics, I’m sure his generosity would be there whether or not there’s a tax incentive for it, because he is so wealthy.”

ArcelorMittal -- the world’s No. 1 steelmaker, led by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal -- has contributed 19.6 million pounds toward the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a spiraling steel tower in the London 2012 Olympic Park.

Smaller fortunes, said Studzinski, may be daunted by the complex process of getting tax relief for giving, which could be more transparent.

“Americans still just say, ’If I give $100 million, I find a way to allocate that over a certain number of years, and I deduct that directly from my taxable income,’” he said. “In this country, it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and it’s not as black and white.”

Studzinski is also a trustee of American Patrons of Tate, an independent U.S.-based charity that acquires works for the Tate and raises money for it.

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts and Jorg von Uthmann on Paris art.

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