Royal Opera House removes reference to troubled benefactor

A benefactor's failure to pay a pledged donation of more than £10m has forced the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to remove his name from the Floral Hall, its famous Victorian atrium.

Alberto Vilar, a 64-year-old New York money manager, is currently awaiting trial on charges of defrauding an investor. He had pledged the money towards the Royal Opera House's £214m refurbishment appeal, its Young Artists Programme, opera productions and seat improvements.

The Royal Opera House said Vilar had failed to maintain scheduled payments despite several renegotiations. As a result, his name is being dropped from what had been called the Vilar Floral Hall. It will in time be taken off all signage and printed material.

As his wealth climbed to a reported $7.5bn (£4.3bn), Vilar made charity pledges of about £128m to music, education and health causes worldwide, from the American Academy in Berlin to the Los Angeles Opera. But he was able to pay only half of them after his investment funds crashed.

In a statement, Tony Hall, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said Vilar would still be listed on its 'donor and benefactors board' for having given the charity £4.4m since 1999.

- See Opinion, page 24.

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