By Jacob Gurvis
February 1, 2024
(JTA) — Jewish billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein has reportedly agreed to purchase the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles.
Rubenstein, a Baltimore native who is best known as the co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, is leading a new ownership cohort that includes Jewish former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Orioles Hall of Fame player Cal Ripken Jr.
Rubenstein’s group will initially purchase a 40% stake in the franchise, taking over from the Angelos family, who have owned the Orioles since 1993. The deal is valued at $1.725 billion, and Rubenstein will be the lead decision-maker.
“I am grateful to the Angelos family for the opportunity to join the team I have been a fan of my entire life,” Rubenstein said in a statement he posted on X. “I look forward to working with all the Orioles owners, players and staff to build upon the incredible success the team has achieved in recent seasons. Our collective goal will be to bring a World Series Trophy back to the City of Baltimore. To the fans I say: we do it for you and can’t do it without you. Thank you for your support.”
Rubenstein, whose net worth is estimated at $3.7 billion, is a prolific philanthropist known for gifts to preserve patriotic sites and objects, including copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. He was among the initial group of signatories to The Giving Pledge, the charitable campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage wealthy individuals to contribute at least half of their wealth to charitable causes.
In 2022, Rubenstein donated $15 million to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the museum’s collection was renamed in his honor. Rubenstein, whose father’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, said the war between Ukraine and Russia inspired him to make the donation.
“My ancestors came from Ukraine; I’m obviously Jewish,” he told The Washington Post at the time. “The Holocaust was an effort to wipe out the European Jews. If you look at the Holocaust and what happened, people say, ‘Why didn’t the U.S. do more? Why didn’t we intervene?’”
“We are living in a similar moment,” Rubenstein continued. “Antisemitism is on the rise in the world. People are saying, ‘What can we do?’ There are many things you can do, and reminding people of the Holocaust is one.”
Rubenstein is also a major donor to the Jewish Life at Duke center at Duke University, his alma mater.
Rubenstein takes the helm of the Orioles at a high point for the team: Baltimore finished with an American League-best 101 wins in 2023 and boasts the strongest farm system in the sport.
At the same time, the Orioles had the second-lowest payroll in the MLB last season, and many fans have expressed frustration with the team’s perceived unwillingness to spend money in the free agent market — something that could change with Rubenstein in charge. Once the sale is approved by the league, which could take several months, Rubenstein will instantly become one of the MLB’s wealthiest owners.
Rubenstein, who served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, also spent 14 years as the chairman of the Kennedy Center, to which he has donated more than $100 million. He previously expressed interest in buying the Washington Nationals, whose previous owner, Jewish real estate magnate Ted Lerner, died last year.