Washington's Richest Gallery

Want a seat on the board of one of Washington’s elite cultural institutions? From the Kennedy Center to the Smithsonian, the price is going through the roof.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

John & Richard Marriott

Heirs to the hotel chain, John and Richard Marriott are worth an estimated $1.3 billion apiece, and in 2010 both ranked 773rd on a Forbes list of the World's Billionaires. While Richard oversees Host Marriott, John heads up Marriott International, and both have made a habit of investing in education, donating to Virginia Tech and a variety of other leadership programs for young people.

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Steve Case

The AOL founder grew up in Honolulu, and his current home on Kauai makes him the second largest property owner in Hawaii. His most infamous business move to date was the doomed AOL-Time Warner merger in 2000, of course, but he since has bounced back with the launch of Revolution, "a company that seeks to drive transformative change by shifting power to consumers" by focusing on partnering with entrepreneurial companies in the health, financial, resort, wellness, and digital sectors. Worth approximately $1.1 billion, he chairs two nonprofits, Case Foundation and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, which he founded in 2001 after losing his brother Dan to brain cancer.

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Roger and Vicki Sant

Since Roger co-founded Applied Energy Services in 1981, the Sants have amassed a net worth estimate by Forbes at $1.7 billion, making them two of the biggest power players—and biggest philanthropists—in Washington. A $26.5 million donation to the National Gallery of Art made them the largest donors in the museum's history, and Vicki now serves as its chair. Roger has been both a chair of the World Wildlife Fund and a chairman on the executive committee of the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The pair also collects art and co-founded the Summit Foundation, which helps secure grants for causes related to population and the environment.

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Adrienne Arsht

Since making a name for herself as a high-powered lawyer and executive—she was chairman of TotalBank of Miami when it was sold to Banco Popular Espanol for $300 million—Arsht has established herself as a well-known patron of the arts in her Florida hometown, earning her the No. 39 spot on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's 2008 list of America's 50 biggest donors. Most notably, Arsht donated $30 million for the restoration of Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts and is also a major donor to the Kennedy Center, as well as The Metropolitan Opera, The Washington National Opera, and the University of Miami. "Politicians pass through, but the arts remain," says Arsht. "They sustain us all."


David G. Bradley

As the publisher of Atlantic Media, David G. Bradley has just as high a profile in the District as the publications he backs, hosting monthly dinners for the city's political and media power players in his Watergate office. "It's a joy for me," he has said. "I launched it for the romance of it. It's more a book club than it is a clubhouse." Bradley first made a name for himself in 1979 by founding the Research Council of Washington, which he sold for more than $300 million in 1997. More recently, he and his wife founded the CityBridge Foundation to aid the troubled Washington, D.C., public school system.

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David Rubenstein

No. 147 on Forbes' list of the super-wealthy is Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. At 60, he is worth $2.5 billion and sits on 30 boards, one of which is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where he has donated $3.5 million and now serves as chair. In one of his most extreme philanthropist-related purchases, Rubenstein bought the 713-year-old Magna Carta and loaned it permanently to the National Archives.