Oligarch pays to upgrade Israeli Ken-Cen lounge

Oligarch pays to upgrade Israeli Ken-Cen lounge


norman lebrecht

November 30, 2017

Press release:


(WASHINGTON)—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced that it will undertake a full-scale renovation of its Israeli Lounge, located on the Box Tier level of the Concert Hall. The renovation is made possible by a $1.25 million gift from LetterOne, the international investment firm co-founded by businessman and philanthropist Mikhail Fridman. Through a competitive design process, a selection panel will identify a winning design that celebrates the spirit of modern-day Israel as well as the richness and vibrancy of Jewish culture. The competition launches on December 14, 2017.

“The Kennedy Center is grateful for Mikhail Fridman’s vision and generous gift,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “The renovation of the Israeli Lounge is an opportunity to refresh an important space and reflect on the cultural connections that shape our nation’s performing arts center. Mr. Fridman shares the Kennedy Center’s vision for a reimagined Israeli Lounge that honors Israel’s rich cultural legacy while looking toward the future.”

“When I first visited the Kennedy Center last spring, I was inspired by the Center’s dynamic, creative energy. As an Israeli citizen, I thought it was important for the Israeli Lounge to project that same dynamism, so that it can reflect modern-day Israeli culture as well as the incredible diversity of the Jewish heritage,” said Mr. Fridman. “I hope we can tap the creativity of outstanding designers and inspire a modern interpretation of the Israeli Lounge through this competitive design process, so when a member of the public enters the Israeli Lounge, they can get a better sense of the make-up of Jewish identity and experience a piece of Israel as it is today—culturally vibrant and forward-looking. I am honored to work with Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter and the selection committee to refresh this important space.”

The Israeli Lounge was a gift from the people of Israel in honor of President Kennedy presented during the Center’s opening in 1971.

Fridman, 53, founded Russia’s largest bank, Alfa. He holds Russian, Ukrainian and Israeli passports.