The new president of the National Gallery in London is conservative party donor John Booth, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was appointed by its board of directors to succeed Tony Hall, a former BBC chief executive who resigned in May following an argument over Martin Bashir’s controversial 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
Booth only joined the National Gallery‘s board of trustees in February, first as Tate’s Liaison Trustee, and then last month as a trustee appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He also chairs the Prince’s Trust and the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, as well as the communications company Maintel and the London Theater Company (which operates the Bridge Theater). Its main business interests are electronic commerce, media and telecommunications.
Booth says he’s thrilled to take on the role as the National Gallery “prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2024”. To coincide with the bicentenary, the gallery is embarking on a Â£ 30million renovation project and fundraising will be one of its priorities. Booth’s first term will last until 2025 and he would then be eligible for a second.
Four years ago, Booth donated Â£ 207,000 to the Conservative Party. Concerns have been expressed about arts organizations chaired by those close to the Conservative Party. In June, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was appointed President of the British Museum, a post he will assume on October 4.