South Bank philanthropist trips up in bid for immortality

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THE publishing tycoon Lord Hamlyn was set for fame in posterity. The South Bank arts complex in London would have been renamed the Paul Hamlyn Centre, had not the Arts Council this week scuppered a planned refurbishment which Lord Hamlyn pledged to support with pounds 17m.

The millionaire philanthropist would have joined Henry Tate, the sugar magnate who funded the London gallery in his name, and Lord Sainsbury, who paid for the extension to the National Gallery, in becoming a feature on the artistic landscape.

The re-naming would also have confirmed a trend well- established in the United States where donations to good causes buy status and, for the most generous donors, immortality.

Mark Phillips, who explored the American charity scene for a Modern Times documentary programme, The Generous Rich, to be broadcast later this month, said: "In New York, philanthropy is a means to climb socially. People are loathe to admit it, but it's clear."

Colin Tweedy, director of the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, said the situation in Britain differed from America, but British benefactors increasingly wanted people to know about their gifts. "It's a very interesting phenomenon. We're getting more and more of it. As the state's role is reduced, corporates and individuals are becoming more important," he said. "A lot of the great givers in Britain were - or are - Jewish and the Jewish philosophy is that the best gift is an anonymous gift. However, most human beings want immortality. Very few individuals are so altruistic that they do not want their name used."

So now there is the Rupert Murdoch chair of communications at Worcester College, Oxford, Sir John Moores Uni- versity in Liverpool and the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery. One of the greatest philanthropists of our time is Vivien Duffield, daughter of the entrepreneur Charles Clore, who has given away pounds 90m of her own money.

Yet there are those who shun publicity. Janice Blackburn, who yesterday won an award sponsored by Montblanc honouring individual patrons of the arts, said she and her husband, David, a property developer, did not want anything named after them. "It's the work that interests me."