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Billionaire donates millions

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-03-27

Sammy Ofer

Sammy Ofer

An 86-year-old Israeli billionaire has made the single largest donation to a UK cultural project. Shipping magnate Sammy Ofer has contributed £20m towards a £35m project being undetaken by The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Romanian-born Ofer, who served in the Royal Navy during World War II runs a shipping empire than spans the world as well as owning property, art and is also a major shareholder in Israel's United Mizrahi Bank.

The new development project of the Museum aims to show Britian's connection with the sea and the contribution it has made.

“I look forward to helping this hugely exciting project and believe it will be a great step forward for the Museum," said Ofer.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed the donation by Ofer. "This generous donation by Mr Ofer will help to ensure that current and future generations understand better the crucial role played by the sea in our history and the lives of those who depended upon it. I applaud this opportunity to promote engagement with our maritime past, present and future, which has only been made possible by this unique gift to the nation."

The new wing will be open in time for the 2012 Olympics in London.

"The completion of this ground-breaking scheme will undoubtedly increase the number of visitors we reach with our programmes and collections, both at Greenwich and through our digital resources," said Museum director Dr Kevin Fewster. "Thanks to the generosity of Sammy Ofer, the new wing will be completed in time for the 2012 Olympics during which Greenwich will be in the world spotlight."