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The Monday sentencing of philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman for his role in orchestrating a price-fixing scheme between the nation’s top two auction houses will not affect the Kennedy School of Government’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, said officials at the school yesterday.
Taubman, who donated $15 million in 1988 to found the center, colluded for six years with Sir Anthony Tennant, the former head of rival auction house Christie’s, violating a federal antitrust law by fixing the fees the auction houses charged to sellers.
He was sentenced to a year in prison and will also have to pay a $7.5 million fine.
“No one is above the law,” federal Judge George B. Daniels said at the New York City sentencing.
Kennedy School officials said that programs at the Taubman Center will not be affected.
“Taubman has never really taken any specific interest in us,” said Taubman Center Director Alan Altshuler.
Altshuler said he did not expect the building’s name to change.
“In the great scheme of things, [Taubman] has led a very ethical life,” Altshuler said. “His conviction does not mean that his life has not been ethical, or one that Harvard doesn’t want to associate with.”
Kennedy School spokesperson Jesus Mena also said a name change was unlikely.
“It is the Taubman Center and it will remain the Taubman Center,” Mena said.
Should the University wish to change the center’s name, legal complications could interfere, according to the University’s development office.
“A case like this is unprecedented,” said Andy Tiedemann, spokesperson for the University development office after Taubman’s conviction in December. “Legally [the center] may not have many options.”
Harvard is not the only University to which Taubman has donated money. In 1983, Taubman endowed the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University with a $3.2 million gift.
At the University of Michigan, Taubman has given more than $30 million and his name appears on the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the medical library and a building of the health care center.
Neither Brown nor Michigan have announced plans to remove Taubman’s name from any facility.
Thomas J. Anton, founding director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy, said he has heard “no talk” of changing the Center’s name. “Mr. Taubman has been very, very supportive of our center,” Anton said.
Representatives from the University of Michigan refused to comment.
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