Lincoln Center had been seeking a benefactor to finance the renovation of the home of the New York Philharmonic. Katherine Farley, chair of Lincoln Center, had announced the gift and the rechristening in March. The renaming ceremony took place as the New York Philharmonic opened its 2015-2016 season.
Leadership and supporters of Lincoln Center and the Philharmonic gathered to celebrate the hall’s new identity, joining Geffen to unveil the David Geffen Hall signage on the hall’s southern exterior.
"I was born and raised in New York, so it is especially gratifying to be associated with Lincoln Center and the transformation of one of the world’s great concert halls," Geffen said. "I would have loved it if my mother could have been here to see this."
Avery Fisher Hall was originally named for the Fisher electronics company founder in 1973. It was reported in fall 2014 that executives at the arts center were making plans to pay the Fisher family $15 million for permission to remove Fisher's name from the building in order to seek a new benefactor to provide for the venue's future.
The New York Times previously reported that Geffen, 72, insisted on a provision that the new name be kept "in perpetuity." "As a native New Yorker, I recognize that Lincoln Center is a beacon to artists and musicians around the world," Geffen said in a statement. "To be involved with such a beloved and iconic institution is deeply satisfying." Construction on the renovation and "reimagination" of the venue will begin in 2019, with an estimated cost of $500 million. Plans also call for the creation of a new Lincoln Center Hall of Fame, which will offer a comprehensive celebration of all aspects of the performing arts and film.
Max Abramovitz designed the concert hall, originally known as Philharmonic Hall, which opened to the public in 1963.
Geffen's work in the entertainment industry shaped the careers of such artists as Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Bob Dylan, the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He also produced Dreamgirls on Broadway and the film version of Little Shop of Horrors.
He was among the first philanthropists to personally and financially support the fight against AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. He has supported the AIDS Project Los Angeles, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, amfAR, God’s Love We Deliver, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Project Angel Food, among others. The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles is also named for him.
The gift is not the first of its magnitude. In 2008, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center was renamed for oil magnate David H. Koch after a $100 million gift.
Here is a video of the rededication: