Carlyle Co-Founder David Rubenstein has friends on both sides of the political aisle including President Joe Biden, who is staying at his Nantucket home for Thanksgiving. The two men wer ehonored at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy Gala in New York in November 2017
Billionaire businessman David Rubenstein grew up the son of a postal worker, made his fortune in private equity and has pledged to give most of it away.
Along the way he’s made friends with the rich and the powerful and on both sides of the political aisle: George H.W. Bush was an adviser to his company while Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter are close friends. And he’s even admitted his regrets include turning down opportunities Mark Zuckerberg to invest in Facebook and Jeff Bezos to invest in Amazon.
His company – the private equity firm The Carlyle Group worth $293 billion – has come under fire at times for its business practices but Rubenstein, who has a net worth of $4.5 billion, according to Forbes, has reshaped his image, become one of the most visible philanthropists in the world, buying copies of the Magna Carter and the Emmancipation Proclamation in what he’s called acts of ‘patriotic philanthropy.
Rubenstein, 72, came back in the spotlight this week after it was revealed President Biden – along with wife Jill, their kids and a gaggle of grandkids – arrived on Nantucket Tuesday night to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at Rubenstein’s private compound on the posh island.
Rubenstein is in Europe, according to local reports.
The Bidens are staying at Rubenstein’s $20million 13-acre compound on Nantucket Harbor. Biden has previously stayed at Rubenstein’s place on Nantucket, including in 2014 when he was vice president. The Bidens are paying rent but it’s unclear how much.
Rubenstein bought the waterfront property in 2000 for his now ex-wife Alice and their three children. He tore down the existing house and put up a 13,000-square-foot home which features a tennis court, swimming pool and private dock.
The location of the home is historic Abram’s Point off the Polpis Road – named after one of the last surviving Native American Wampanoag race, Abram Quary.
Rubenstein has reportedly boasted to friends that he only spends 12 days a year at the Nantucket estate. A rock on his front lawn reads: ‘I’d rather be working.’
He admits he’s a work-a-holic.
‘If I were forced to relax in conventional ways I’m convinced I’d have a heart attack,’ he told The Washington Post in 2003. ‘I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t play golf.’
The Bidens are staying at Rubenstein’s $20million 13-acre compound on Nantucket Harbor for the Thanksgiving holiday
State police cars and Secret Service vehicles have the area around the home closed
The house sits far back on the island, on its inner harbor
The Coast Guard patrol around the home the Bidens are staying in
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk down the steps of Air Force One on Tuesday upon their arrival in Nantucket for the holiday
Hunter Biden carrying Beau Biden disembarks from Air Force One with some of the other Biden grandkids for the Thanksgiving holiday
Private equity firms are companies that take struggling companies that are not traded on the stock exchange and raise cash, which they then re-invest in those companies with the goal of making them profitable.
These firms would then try to get a handsome return on their investment by either offering the company to the public which can buy shares, selling the company, or recapitalization.
Rubenstein cofounded The Carlyle Group in 1987 with William Conway Jr and Daniel D’Aniello and managed the company’s advisers, which included George H.W. Bush. He now serves as non-executive co-chairman of the company.
All three co-founders became billionaires after building the company from the ground up. They raised money from investors and used it to purchase companies – early on they focused on defense companies – and then sold them for profit.
Rubenstein also indicated the rich need to pay more in taxes, saying ‘taxes in the United States are not completely fair for anyone.’
But he’s also said that taxing billionaires like himself wouldn’t generate enough income to help the federal government wipe out its debt.
‘I don’t think all of a sudden a wealth tax, for example, would solve all of our society’s problems, if one could ever actually be implemented,’ Rubenstein told CNBC during the 2020 presidential campaign about Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal.
‘If you tax the upper income, there aren’t enough of those people to really make a wealth distribution effect that’s going to be significant. There just aren’t enough highly wealthy people,’ he added.
Rubenstein now gives speeches and hosts a show for Bloomberg TV. He also serves as chairman of the Washington Economic Club. He chairs the Kennedy Center Honors when it airs on CBS.
Among his regrets, Rubenstein said he was once offered the opportunity to meet Mark Zuckerberg and invest in Facebook before Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard but decided against it.
He also said he turned down a 20% stake in Amazon during the early years of the company. He’s also said he regrets not investing in Twitter and turning down an opportunity to buy the Washington Post before Bezos purchased the newspaper.
Before cofounding The Carlyle group, Rubenstein practiced law in New York between 1973 and 1975. He served as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments.
Rubenstein then went on to serve as an official for President Jimmy Carter’s Administration as a deputy domestic policy adviser to the President.
He told the New York Times how he got involved in private equity: ‘I read that Bill Simon had done a leveraged buyout in the early 1980s where he bought Gibson Greeting Cards and made $80 million on a $1 million investment. I didn’t know what a leveraged buyout was, but it sounded more attractive than practicing law.’
Rubenstein’s business practices have come under fire.
John Oliver, in a segment on his HBO show, accused him of buying up mobile home parks and sharply increasing the rent on tenants, who often can’t afford the increase or the high cost to move the home.
He was also subject to conspiracy theories after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On the day of the attack, he was attending a conference sponsored by the Carlyle Group in Washington DC where Osama bin Laden’s brother was also in attendance, which led to unfounded gossip the compnay was somehow complicitous. To calm matters, Rubenstein returned the bin Ladens’ $2 million investment in the Carlyle Group.
In addition to promoting his causes, Rubenstein also often talks about his personal story.
He grew up the son of a postal worker and homemaker in Baltimore, earning high enough marks to attend Duke University as an undergrad, then the University of Chicago for law school.
He has three children – Alexandra, Gabrielle, and Andrew – and has said he’s given them Ivy League educations but did not give them trust funds.
He gives millions to charity – including $7.5million for the repair of the Washington Monument after the 2011 earthquake and $4.5 million to the National Zoo for its Giant Panda program.
And in 2016, he donated $25 million for a pancreatic cancer center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and has given $100 million to his alma mater Duke University.
He has made large gifts in recent years to Washington’s cultural institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center, where he is chairman.
An aerial view of the 13-acre compound owned by billionaire Carlyle group co-founder David Rubenstein on Nantucket Harbor
David Rubenstein, 72, is an American billionaire businessman with a net worth of $4.5 billion
David Rubenstein pictured November 21 with Nancy Pelosi in D.C.
In 2007 Rubenstein bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $21.3million, which he has loaned to the National Archives; he practices what he calls ‘patriotic philanthropy’
David Rubenstein and his now ex-wife Alice at the 2015 state dinner for Chinese President President Xi Jinping
Like Bill Gates he is among the list of billionaires that have pledged to give at least half their money to philanthropic causes in their lifetime as part of The Giving Pledge.
A history buff, he practices what he calls ‘patriotic philanthropy’ to preserve historical artificats.
In 2014, Rubenstein donated $12.3 million to restore Arlington House, the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The columned home, originally built as a monument to George Washington between 1802 and 1818, was restored to its historical appearance in 1860, before the start of the U.S. Civil War.
Rubenstein said the site crowns the most sacred land in America but needed major repairs.
The money he donated to National Park Foundation will also go toward fixing the grounds and slave quarters, and overhauling the site’s museum exhibits.
‘The goal is to remind people of American history,’ Rubenstein said at the time. ‘I think when you’re restoring history, you should remind people of the good and the bad.’
In 2016, Rubenstein donated $18million to fix up the Lincoln Memorial. The money was used to fix the memorial’s roof, clean the marble and improve accessibility by adding a second elevator.
Rubenstein said his admiration for Lincoln drew him to this project. ‘Lincoln deserves to have his memorial in tip-top shape,’ he said in a phone interview at the time.
In 2007 Rubenstein bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $21.3million, which he has loaned to the National Archives. The Magna Carta bears the seal of King Edward I and is dated 1297. It is one of 17 known handwritten copies of the text that established a tradition for the rule of law that even the king would honour.
Rubenstein told the Times of his philanthropy: ‘In the end, you have to say what is the purpose of life, and what are you doing here? Everybody has to ask themselves that question. What are you doing that makes your existence on the face of the earth justified? What am I doing? Well, maybe fixing up companies isn’t such a great thing. It does add to the economy, you could argue. But giving away the money, reminding people of history, is one thing that I’m now a little bit focused on.’