Beware gift-bearing robber barons because there’s almost always a catch
By donating large sums to centres of learning, tainted family dynasties and opportunists seek to blunt human rights
For centuries, rich, ruthless men have funded centres of learning as a form of spiritual money laundering and to perpetuate the glory of their names. In death, as in life, they drove hard bargains.
Oxford and Cambridge, the UK’s ancient universities, have done well out of such bequests compared with their British and European rivals. But the era of scrutiny-free donations has drawn to an end; the universities face a new and testing environment when it comes to defending decisions to stash the cash and plant a prominent name plate on a new library or graduate centre...