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David Mark Rubenstein

Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Private

Managed by: Alex Bickle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Private

About David Rubenstein

David Mark Rubenstein (born August 11, 1949) is an American financier and philanthropist best known as co-founder and co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment company based in Washington D.C. He is also currently serving as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and chairman of the board of trustees at Duke University, his alma mater. According to the Forbes ranking of the wealthiest people in America, Rubenstein has a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Early life and career

Rubenstein grew up an only child in a Jewish family in an exclusively Jewish neighborhood in Baltimore. His beginnings were modest. His father was employed by the United States Postal Service and his mother was a homemaker.

He graduated from the college preparatory high school Baltimore City College, at the time an all-male school, and then from Duke University magna cum laude in 1970. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1973, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. From 1973 to 1975, Rubenstein practiced law in New York with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Prior to starting Carlyle in 1987, with William E. Conway, Jr. and Daniel A. D'Aniello, Rubenstein was a deputy domestic policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter and worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.

Although in 2006 private equity activity was booming and larger companies than ever before were bought out, insiders feared the day that it would abruptly end. On two different occasions David Rubenstein expressed this fear. In January 2006, he stated: "This has been a golden age for our industry, but nothing continues to be golden forever". One month later, he emphasized this concern more explicitly: "Right now we're operating as if the music's not going to stop playing and the music is going to stop. I am more concerned about this than any other issue", These concerns proved to be right as at the end of 2007 the buyout market collapsed. This collapse can largely be attributed to the credit crunch, which significantly increased the cost of borrowing. As leveraged loan activity came to an abrupt stop, private equity firms were unable to secure financing for their transactions. As the consequences of the credit crunch unveiled themselves, many previously announced buyouts were cancelled.

In May 2008 David Rubenstein stated: "But once this period is over, once the debt on the books of the banks is sold and new lending starts, I think you'll see the private equity industry coming back in what I call the Platinum Age - better than it's ever been before. I do think that the private equity industry has a great future and that the greatest period for private equity is probably ahead of us."

Personal life

David Rubenstein's father was a postal service worker earning $7,000 annually and his mother a housewife, the family lived in Baltimore. In a speaking engagement at the University of Maryland, he revealed that his mother wanted him to grow up and become a dentist. Rubenstein has stated that he was once offered to meet Mark Zuckerberg before he dropped out of Harvard but decided against it. This is his single greatest investment regret.

He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and is married to Alice Rubenstein (née Alice Nicole Rogoff), founder of the Alaska House New York and the Alaska Native Arts Foundation and owner of Alaska Dispatch News. They met while Rubenstein was working for the Carter Administration and were married on May 21, 1983. They have three children together, two daughters and a son.

In addition to his main Bethesda residence, he has vacation homes in Colorado and Nantucket. As of early 2016, he normally drives a fifteen-year-old Mercedes station wagon.


Rubenstein was among the initial forty individuals who have pledged to donate more than half of their wealth to philanthropic causes or charities as part of The Giving Pledge.

He has made large gifts to Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago Law School, and the National Park Service.

He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago on May 31, 2007.

In December 2007 Rubenstein purchased the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta at Sotheby's auction house in New York for $21.3 million. He has lent it to the National Archives in Washington D.C. In 2011, Rubenstein gave $13.5 million to the National Archives for a new gallery and visitor's center. He has purchased rare Stone copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, and the Constitution and has lent these copies to the State Department, the National Archives, the National Constitution Center, the Smithsonian and Mount Vernon.

Rubenstein was elected Chairman of the Board of the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, starting in May 2010. He was Vice Chairman of the Board of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, and chairman of its fundraising drive. A new atrium was named for him. He is on the board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution.

In December 2011, Rubenstein donated $4.5 million to the National Zoo for its giant panda reproduction program. The panda complex was then named the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat for the next five years and conservation biologists in the U.S. and China who are awarded National Zoo fellowships for their work to save pandas would be named "David M. Rubenstein Fellows." Another $4.5 million was donated in September 2015, about four weeks after a male giant panda cub was born.

In 2012, he donated $7.5 million towards the repair of the Washington Monument.

In 2013, he donated $50 million to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which is being used for 65,000 square foot addition.

In April 2013 and 2015, he donated a total of $20 million to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which will be used to rebuild at least two buildings in the slave community on Mulberry Row at Monticello. The funds will also be used to restore Jefferson's original road scheme, restore the second and third stories of Jefferson's home which are currently mostly empty, and replace infrastructure.

In November 2013, he bought a copy of the Bay Psalm Book for $14.1 million, the highest price ever paid for a printed book, and pledged to lend it to public collections and exhibitions around the world.

In 2014, he donated $10 million to Montpelier, to support the renovation of the home of James Madison.

In November 2015, he donated $20 Million for the New Commons Building at the Institute for Advanced Study. The building will be named Rubenstein Commons and will feature conference space, meeting rooms, a cafe, and office space.

On February 15, 2016, Presidents' Day, Rubenstein presented a gift of $18.5 million to the National Park Foundation to expand educational resources, foster public access, and repair and restore the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The park plans to create 15,000 square feet of visitor space beneath the memorial. This gift, presented during National Park Service's centennial year, was Rubenstein's fourth gift to benefit US national parks.

Duke University

Rubenstein has made several gifts to Duke University. He donated $5 million to Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy in 2002, after which Rubenstein Hall was named for him. In 2009, he donated an additional $5.75 million to the school. In 2011, he also donated $13.6 million to the Duke University Libraries in support of renovating the university's special collections library, which was named the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. In 2012, he donated $15 million to support the university's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. That same year, he gave another $10 million to support Duke Athletics. In 2013, Rubenstein donated $10 million to fund graduate fellowships and undergraduate internships at the Sanford School of Public Policy. In 2015, Rubenstein gave $25 million towards the new $50 million, 71,000-square foot Arts Center, set to be inaugurated in 2017.

University of Chicago

In 2010 and 2013, he provided a total of $20 million to the Law School for scholarships. The gifts will fund up to 60 full-tuition scholarships in three consecutive Law School graduating classes. Approximately 10 percent of all students from the Classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019 will be Rubenstein Scholars.

In 2014, he provided the lead funding for a Forum to serve as the University's principal conference center.

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David Rubenstein's Timeline

August 11, 1949
Baltimore, Maryland, United States