Queen’s birthday honours: Ukrainian-born museum donor Leonard Blavatnik is made a knight

Other recipients include the artists John Akomfrah and Idris Khan


Leonard Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born businessman who has given substantial donations to the Tate and Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. His knighthood was awarded for “services to philanthropy”. 

Tate Modern has named its new extension—formerly the Switch House—the Blavatnik Building after the entrepreneur donated more than £50m, the largest-ever financial donation to a UK museum. He has also supported the V&A’s new Exhibition Road extension, which is due to open next week, with a £5m donation. Blavatnik emigrated from the Soviet Union to the US in 1978 but also has a London residence; he runs the New York investment company Access Industries. 

Among the 1,109 recipients were a number of leading figures from the arts in the UK. John Akomfrah, whose video installation The Airport (2016) was shown last week in Art Basel’s Unlimited section, was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to art and film-making. Idris Khan was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire); his memorial to the war dead of the United Arab Emirates was unveiled last year in Abu Dhabi. 

OBEs were also awarded to Jill Ritblat, a trustee of the Design Museum in London and former vice chairman of the Tate International Council, and Helen Dorey, the deputy director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.

Tim Sayer, a former BBC Radio 4 news reader, was made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire); last year he bequeathed his collection of 400 works by artists such as Alexander Calder and Bridget Riley to the Hepworth Wakefield in West Yorkshire.