New York's Richest Resident Is Into Dance. Where Has His Money Been Going?

New York City's richest resident, David H. Koch, is the younger half of the billionaire Koch brothers who are collectively worth around $82 billion. Both David and his brother are in their seventies and while they're still quite involved in their business, they've been deep into philanthropy for yearsnot to mention the turbo-charged political giving that has made them infamous.  

David Koch has had a particular interest in cancer research since a routine check up revealed that he had prostate cancer. In addition to battling his own cancer, he's also given serious money to health causes, including a $100 million gift to fund a cancer research center at his alma mater MIT.

Koch has also given big money to art, specifically dance. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, one of several philanthropic outfits under the Koch family name, has given some of its largest sums in recent years to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.

Koch is a member of the (large) board of directors at Lincoln Center. In July 2008, Koch pledged $100 million over the next ten years for the preservation and renovation of the State Theater of New York at Lincoln Center. The theater is now named the David H. Koch Theater, and is adjacent to the Metropolitan Opera House and Avery Fisher Hall. (I'm sure New York liberals are delighted to see that name as they pass into the theater.)

In addition, last month, the David H. Koch Plaza opened to the public at the Metropolitan Museum of Art following a major two-year reconstruction effort which added new landscaping and fountains. Koch gave $65 million toward this project.

Koch has also given sums to American Ballet Theatre, with which he's been associated for 25 years. Koch currently is a vice chair at the theatre, which has received at least $6 million over the years. Koch has also given $500,000 to the New York City Opera recently and in 2010 gave the Ballet Theater Foundation $2.5 million to help fund the Nutcracker.

At the end of 2012, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation held more than $60 million in assets and gave away more than $10 million that year. Given what you hear about the Koch brothers, you might think his foundation is mainly dropping big grants on right-wing groups. You'd be wrong, at least about this Koch funding entity. All $10 million in foundation grants in 2012 went to the arts.

As far as grantseekers are concerned, however, Koch appears to be making these gifts to a select few outfits with which he already has a relationship.

But here's the thing about David Koch's arts philanthropy: It's almost surely just begun, given that he has more than $40 billion to his name and isn't getting any younger. We wouldn't be surprised to see a larger, more professionalized foundation giving out David Koch's money to a larger array of grantees a few years from now.

As with a lot of these very selective billionaire donors, the key may be patience. If you fundraise for the arts and for dance, especially in New York City, keep an eye on this Koch brother.