Tuesday, November 10, 2009

*Update* The MET receives a windfall from across the pond

The Scottish Sun is reporting that music lover Mona Webster, who died in August at the age of 96, gave £4.5m to the Metropolitan Opera and left millions to the UK's Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Ms. Webster's estate is worth an estimated £10m in total.

This is exciting news for the MET... but to me, one of the best parts of this story is the opening sentence of the Scottish Sun article, which reads exactly as:
"A RICH widow has shocked friends and family by leaving £4m in her will - to an American OPERA HOUSE."

According to a Sun source: "Everybody knew about Mona's love of opera and birdwatching. But the family are stunned at her level of generosity." While a MET spokesperson says: "Mrs Webster was a long-time friend and a generous donor. She will be greatly missed."

Indeed, I'm sure she'll be missed... but £4.5m to the MET is quite a legacy to leave behind.

From this MET fan: Thank you Mrs. Webster!


Just so you all know that Yours Truly has done his homework, I'd like to clarify something.

It seems that there is some confusion on the varying reports as to the worth of Mrs. Webster's estate and how much she bequeathed to the MET. Some reports hold her worth, as reported here, at £10m with £4.5m going to the MET. While other reports, including the NY Times, hold her worth at $16.6m with $7.5m going to the MET.

Please note the symbols £ and $. The difference is in the currency conversion.

Another interesting sticking point though: Ms. Webster left only $167,000 to the Royal Opera Trust, which is a benefactor to Covent Garden in London, much closer to Mrs. Webster's home. According to the NY Times, MET officials said Ms. Webster had complained about the Royal Opera.

Gail Chesler, the Met’s director of planned and special gifts said “She would tell me things that she didn’t like that Covent Garden was doing, and she just loved the Met. It (Covent Garden) was all over the place — casting, productions, management.”

I'm sure many at Covent Garden are stoically turning a blind eye.


Scottish Sun: Scots widow leaves £4.5m to N.Y. opera.

New York Times: Lover of Birds and Opera Leaves Millions to Both

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