The new wing would not be possible without an extraordinary gift of £20m from Mr Sammy Ofer, KBE.
Sammy Ofer was an international shipping magnate and philanthropist. He served in the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean during World War Il and having been based in Monaco for many years recently retired to Israel (September 2009).
Sammy Ofer was born in 1922 in Romania and moved to the then British Mandate of Palestine as a child. He entered the maritime world, joining his father’s ship chandlery business. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy and saw active service.
The international shipping group which he founded now operates a significant part of its fleet from London with about 90 vessels flying the Red Ensign.
Through his longstanding relationship with London and its shipping community Sammy Ofer developed a deep appreciation and respect for the long maritime tradition and history of the UK. This was the motivation for his donation to the National Maritime Museum. The gift will to enable the Museum to connect with a broader audience and to communicate the value and relevance of the UK’s rich sea-going heritage.
A renowned philanthropist, Sammy Ofer pledged in excess of £40m in support of education, medicine and medical treatment facilities. He was also a well-known art lover and collector.
Lord Sterling said at the time of the gift in 2009:
Sammy Ofer is a man who has been key to the global maritime industry for many years. With London being the hub of the international shipping community, and Greenwich at the very heart of our maritime heritage, Sammy Ofer’s great gift to the nation will help us to create a spectacular contemporary environment to enable all our visitors to better understand the importance of the maritime world in our lives today.
Lord Sterling of Plaistow
Chairman, National Maritime Museum