Want Your Name on a Building? Prepare to Be Generous

New York's most affluent citizens have been able to have their name slapped on buildings all over the city for the right donation. Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup, and his wife, Joan, gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Cornell's medical college. Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times New York’s most affluent citizens have been able to have their name slapped on buildings all over the city for the right donation. Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup, and his wife, Joan, gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Cornell’s medical college.

Don’t look back, Donald Trump; when it comes to having one’s name emblazoned all over New York City, Ronald Perelman might be gaining on you.

In appreciation for a pledge of $100 million, Columbia University said last week that it would name a planned building after Mr. Perelman, a billionaire financier. The building, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation, will be one of a growing roster of facilities in New York City bearing the Perelman name.

The list already includes the Ronald O. Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, the Ronald O. Perelman Rotunda at the Guggenheim Museum, and the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School. Ms. Cohen, who died in 2007, was Mr. Perelman’s ex-wife.

Mr. Perelman also has his name on less-concrete things like fellowships and even the dermatology department at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The business school at New York University carries the name of a major donor, Leonard N. Stern, a graduate of the school.Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times The business school at New York University carries the name of a major donor, Leonard N. Stern, a graduate of the school.

His generosity has gained him entry into the pantheon of financiers and business owners whose names are chiseled in granite around the city. Among its members are Sanford Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup; Kenneth Langone, an investor and founder of Home Depot; Henry Kravis, the private-equity maven; and the Tisch family.

At Columbia Business School, Mr. Perelman’s gift matches one from Mr. Kravis, whose name will adorn another new building there.

Indeed, $100 million seems to be the minimum tariff for naming rights these days. That is how much Stephen A. Schwarzman, a financier, promised to the New York Public Library, which named its central building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan after him.

The medical center at New York University bears the name of Kenneth Langone, an investor and founder of Home Depot, who gave the center $200 million.Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times The medical center at New York University bears the name of Kenneth Langone, an investor and founder of Home Depot, who gave the center $200 million.

Mr. Langone gave twice as much — $200 million — to N.Y.U. five years ago to have its entire medical center bear his name. That same year, Mr. Weill and his wife, Joan, gave $250 million to the Cornell Medical Center, which they had already given two gifts of $100 million.

To hoi polloi, all this celebrated largess may look like a tussle for recognition among titanic egos. But Mr. Langone said there was no competition among his peers to have their names attached to the greatest number of facilities.

“My wife and I agree our names are around enough,” Mr. Langone said in a telephone interview. He added, however, that the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, of which he is a trustee, may soon name something for him.

Along with the medical center, the night school at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business is named for Mr. Langone, who earned his master’s degree in business administration there. Mr. Langone said he could not recall how many millions he had given to the business school.

He noted that his initial gift of $100 million to the medical center had been anonymous. But he said that after he agreed to give an additional $100 million, officials of the university had persuaded him that “if you let us publicize this, it’ll have babies.”

That proved true, he said, rattling off the names of several other wealthy families, including the Tisches, that in turn gave large sums to the medical center. He said the center had raised more than $1 billion since his latest gift was announced.

“Like the one-percenters or not,’’ Mr. Langone said, “for whatever reasons, they’ve shared their good fortune.’’

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