Thursday, June 23, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The fall of the king of opera

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The fall of the king of opera: "The fall of the king of opera

His pledged donations were so lavish that the Royal Opera House named its new atrium after him. Now Alberto Vilar is accused of theft, writes David Teather, and the opera world is unsure if he was a sham

Thursday June 23, 2005
The Guardian
In his name: the Vilar Floral Hall, Royal Opera House. Photograph: PA

Alberto Vilar must be wondering how it came to this. A Cuban-American financier once valued by Forbes Magazine at $950m (�520m), he has been lauded as one of the world's leading philanthropists, having pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to support the arts, universities and medical centres across the world. The sums are eye-popping: in recent years his pledges have included $45m to the New York Metropolitan Opera, $50m to the Kennedy Arts Center in Washington, $14m to the Los Angeles Opera. In Britain, he is well known in the arts community for a pledge of �10m to the Royal Opera House, a donation which was acclaimed for saving the opera and which prompted a grateful Covent Garden to name its striking glass atrium the Vilar Floral Hall. "

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