Carlyle Riches: Meet the Private Equity Guy Behind That Big Holocaust Museum Gift

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington D.C. began as an idea in 1978 and now serves as a living memorial to the Holocaust visited by 2 million people annually. While the museum receives federal support, donors also help keep the museum a fixture of the National Mall. Many of USHMM's featured donors were impacted by the Holocaust. 

Now consider a recent $20 million gift from Allan and Shelley Holt to sponsor a comprehensive revitalization of USHMM's Permanent Exhibition. The son of Holocaust survivors, Holt was appointed vice chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Obama in December 2015. Among other things, the funds will will support "efforts to expand the reach and impact of the exhibition and ensure its relevance to new audiences, especially youth."

Holt describes some of his motivations, "The Museum is an important American institution. This gift is an expression of our family’s gratitude to this remarkable country, and most especially it honors my parents, all of my grandparents who were killed, and my mother’s two sisters who survived with her.” 

Allan Holt is the latest executive at D.C. private equity giant Carlyle Group we've come across who's involved in philanthropy in a big way. We've written about Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein, a major patron of museums and cultural institutions. Rubenstein recently gave Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture a $10 million gift, as well as historic artifacts, and has given the Smithsonian at least $44 million through the years.

Another Carlyle cofounder, William Conway Jr., meanwhile, is poised to give at least $1 billion to Washington D.C. We've also written about the third billionaire co-founder of Carlyle, Daniel D'Aniello, who gave $20 million to American Enterprise Institute not long ago.


Allan Holt doesn't have as much money as Carlyle's co-founders, but clearly he's done pretty well. He and his wife Shelley have been giving through the Hillside Foundation, a vehicle established in 2005 which disbursed around $4.3 million in a recent tax year. The couple has steadily supported USHMM via their foundation and have also strongly funded Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Congregation B'Nai Tzedek. The Holts have helped bankroll a film about a Nazi concentration camp, too.

Outside of the Jewish community, the Holts also key in on STEM education in the D.C. area. Like Rubenstein, the Holts are linked to Smithsonian, too. Holt is a board member of Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and the couple helped establish the Holt Scholars Program. The Holts have supported 3D mammography at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

For a complete overview of this funder, read our profile of Allan Holt.