July 24, 2021

Oligarch washes his reputation by donating to Tate Modern in London

The latest review by Forbes Len Blavatnik’s fortune amounts to $ 19.1 billion (17.4 billion euros). Enough to leave enough pocket money for the oligarch to make a generous donation to Tate Modern. Its exact amount is not disclosed but the sum was sufficient for the famous London Museum of Contemporary Art to decide, Thursday, May 4, to rename its extension. The new wing, which is moreover very successful and open since June 2016, will now be called the “Blavatnik Building”. “The generosity of the donation is almost unprecedented in the history of the Tate”, affirms in a statement Nicholas Serota, the director of the institution.

The gesture annoys Roman Borisovich, an anti-corruption activist based in London. ” What an unfortunate decision! I especially hope that one day there will be a Blavatnik wing in Belmarsh high security prison. According to him, the businessman is close to the Kremlin, which got rich in a sulphurous context and thus buys an image cheaply.

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A generous philanthropist

Born in Ukraine in 1957, emigrated to the United States in the 1970s, at the age of 21, a graduate of Harvard University, Mr. Blavatnik initially built his fortune in aluminum during the dismantling of the ‘USSR. He then became known to be one of three Russian partners of TNK-BP, a joint venture (joint venture) on par with the British oil company, which exploited Russian hydrocarbons. With his American nationality and education, the oligarch embodied the link to the West.

In 2008, TNK-BP was the subject of an extraordinary struggle for control. The whole Russian administrative machine was set in motion: the police launched several raids on its offices; an employee was arrested and charged with espionage; around 100 employees were threatened with losing their visas. Bob Dudley, its managing director – and today the boss of BP – had to leave Russia in a hurry, to hide while the tension subsides. The British oil company finally let the Russian partners take more control in the group. A few years later, it was bought by Rosneft, the Russian national oil company, allowing Mr. Blavatnik to pocket a large capital gain.

Since then, the oligarch has taken a step back from Russia. His company notably took control of Warner Music and the man reinvented himself as a generous philanthropist. He made donations to the Royal Academy, the National Gallery, and therefore, the Tate. At the University of Oxford, he also created the “Blavatnik School of Government”, an institute seeking – without laughing – to create a “Better governed world”. « He whitewashes his reputation », Chokes Mr. Borisovich. Proof that petroleum stains are sometimes washed off by purchasing oil paints.