Israeli Billionaire Ofer Makes Gift to Expand Tate Modern

Israeli shipping billionaire Eyal Ofer has donated 10 million pounds ($15.2 million) to the Tate Modern of London, helping to fund the biggest expansion in the museum’s 13-year history.

The gift from the Eyal Ofer Family Foundation continues the family’s history of supporting U.K. institutions started by his father, Sammy Ofer, and will help bankroll a new building that will increase the museum’s size by 60 percent. The new structure will house contemporary visual works, such as photography and performance art.

“It is exciting to see such outstanding philanthropy continuing from one generation to the next,” Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate said in a written statement. “The generosity of Eyal Ofer and his family will help to make the Tate Modern a truly twenty-first century museum.”

Ofer, 63, is Israel’s second-richest man, with a fortune valued at $5.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. With his younger brother Idan, he owns one of the world’s largest closely held shipping companies, Sammy Ofer Group Monaco, whose vessels are operated by London-based fleet manager Zodiac Maritime Agencies.

The billionaire also owns commercial real estate properties in Europe, Israel and the U.S., including a stake in Manhattan’s luxury condominium building, 15 Central Park West, and homes in Monte Carlo, London and New York. After Sammy Ofer’s death in 2011, his assets were evenly divided between Eyal and his brother, who has a fortune valued at $5.6 billion.

Family Tradition

Sammy Ofer, who established the family’s ties to the U.K. when he joined the Royal Navy at the start of World War II, donated 20 million pounds to build a new wing at London’s National Maritime Museum, in 2008. He also funded the restoration of the British clipper ship, the Cutty Sark, that same year.

Last year, Eyal continued the family tradition of supporting British cultural institutions when he contributed an undisclosed amount to the commissioning of the royal barge Gloriana, which led the boat processional in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Tate Modern, which occupies a converted power facility on the south bank of London’s Thames River, announced that plans were approved for the new building in 2009. It has raised 85 percent of the 215 million pounds needed for the expansion and, in recognition of Ofer’s donation, will name one of its exhibition suites the Eyal Ofer Galleries.

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