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March 24, 2015

Barbara Walters Helped Engineer Geffen's Lincoln Center Gift

The New York Times examines the backstory of David Geffen’s $100-million naming gift to Lincoln Center and the controversy in philanthropic circles over the terms of the gift, particularly the venue’s pledge to keep the Hollywood mogul’s name on its concert hall in perpetuity.

Barbara Walters played a key role in the deal, introducing Mr. Geffen and Katherine G. Farley, Lincoln Center’s chairwoman, both friends of the television news icon. “I thought that it would be a great match, because David has such vision and he gives so much money everywhere to different things,” Ms. Walters said.

Mr. Geffen, a Brooklyn native, stepped up after Lincoln Center won back naming rights to its Avery Fisher Hall by paying $15 million to Mr. Fisher’s heirs. Some arts philanthropy experts have questioned the promise of permanent naming rights, especially as the Geffen gift will cover just 20 percent of the estimated $500-million cost of the hall’s long-awaited renovation.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion column about the Geffen-Lincoln Center naming deal.