Oscar Tang

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Oscar Liu-Chien Tang (Chinese: 唐騮千; pinyin: Táng Liúqiān) is a Chinese-born American financier[1] who is notable as the first leading Chinese-American philanthropist for education and arts and culture,[2] for which he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.

This 962 A.D. painting by Chinese artist Dong Yuan is one of the earliest landscapes which created the illusion of depth and distance on a silk canvas. Tang bought it for New York's Metropolitan Museum in 1997.

Early years[edit]

Tang was born in Shanghai, China, and his family fled from the country when the Communist revolution took over in 1949. Tang graduated from The Rectory School in Pomfret, Connecticut in 1953. He attended the St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, where he was the first Chinese student at the school. In 2013, he returned to St. Johnsbury as its Commencement Speaker.[3] He later enrolled at Phillips Academy in Andover as a tenth grader and graduated in 1956. His future wife, Frances Young, attended Andover's sister school, Abbot Academy, and she went on to Skidmore College. Tang's lifelong dedication to Andover as the largest donor in the school's history and a champion for education was profiled in a 2012 documentary called "An Andover Life".[4]

Tang was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale University and received a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1960, Tang married Frances Young.[5] Tang received an M.B.A degree from Harvard Business School. His wife graduated from Skidmore in 1961.

Tang's maternal grandfather was Wen Bingzhong (Chinese: 温秉忠; 1862-1938), one of the 120 young boys sent by the late Qing imperial court to study in America during the Chinese Education Mission established by China's first student to graduate from an American University (Yale), Yung Wing (Chinese: 容閎). Wen was the first Chinese to be documented in the Northampton, MA census in 1880. After his return to China, he later served as a high-level foreign service official.[6] Tang's father was P.Y. Tang (Chinese: 唐炳源), a Boxer indemnity scholarship student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who became one of the early civic and business leaders of post-1949 Hong Kong; he was also a leading philanthropist in education. He was widely respected for his business success and as a civic leader. Tang received many honors in his lifetime including Justice of the Peace and Order of the British Empire. He died in Hong Kong in 1971. Oscar Tang has talked about his family's roots in American education publicly and attributes his own experience and philanthropy to his family history.[7]

Business career and family[edit]

Tang began his career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, or DLJ. In 1970, Tang founded an investment firm known as Reich and Tang in New York City. He headed the firm until 1993. The firm was highly profitable. It is now part of the investment bank Natixis. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, Tang worked with other high-profile Chinese-Americans to found the Committee of 100, including Yo-yo Ma and I.M. Pei, to "encourage rapport and understanding between two countries."[8] His wife Frances Young Tang was a philanthropist who specialized in landmark preservation. In 1992, she died at the age of 53 from cancer. A gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is named after her, as is the Tang Art Museum at Skidmore College, her alma mater.[9] She was a stepdaughter of the Chinese diplomat Wellington Koo.[10] In 2013 Tang married Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang (née Hsin-Mei Hsu 徐心眉),[11] a Penn-, Cambridge-, and Stanford-educated archaeologist[12] and UNESCO advisor on the faculty at Columbia University.[13] Hsu has been dubbed by the Chinese press as "China's Lara Croft" for her hosting of the award-winning documentary series Mysteries of China.[14][15] Chinese and Singaporean press has widely reported that Hsu is a descendant of the Ming dynasty Catholic imperial minister Xu Guangqi[16] 徐光启 who was beatified by the Vatican on April 15, 2011[17] and regarded by many to be the founder of modern Shanghai. Xu Jiahui 徐家汇 (the District of the "Xu/Hsu Clan) is the historical center of Shanghai.[18] Hsu's maternal great grandfather was Ji Xiaolan 紀晓岚, Qianlong Emperor's imperial minister of war and poet laureate. Tang's daughter Tracy Tang Limpe, is a philanthropist and the chairman of the board at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY, her alma mater.[19] Tang's daughter Dana Tang, an architect, married Andrew Haid Darrell in 1998.[20] Tang's brother was Jack Chi-chien Tang (唐驥千), a prominent business leader, educator, philanthropist in Hong Kong and one of the founders of Asia Society Hong Kong Center in 1990.[21][22] Tang's brother-in-law is the distinguished Princeton University professor, Dr. Wen Fong, [23], who is attributed to have "helped to create and shape the academic field of East Asian art history as we know it today."[24]


It is believed that he has given away $200-250 million.[25] Among other recognitions for his philanthropy, Tang is an honoree of the Carnegie Corporation's "Great Immigrants: The Pride of America."[26] Tang is known to be a significant donor to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[27] the New York Philharmonic, Yale University,[28] Skidmore College,[29] the Vail Valley Foundation,[30] the Dunhuang Foundation,[31] the Gordon Parks Foundation,[32][33] and other organizations. Tang has also contributed to other institutions including the Tang Center for Early China at Columbia University,[34] the Princeton University's P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art,[35] the Tang Center at MIT,[36] Duke University,[37] University of California, Berkeley,[38][39] Cornell University,[40] and Harvard University. In 2008, he gave $25 million to Phillips Academy in what was the school's largest ever single contribution.[41] In 2014, he donated an additional $15 million to Andover to establish the Tang Institute at Andover. At The Rectory School in Pomfret, Connecticut, Tang donated the P.Y and Kinmay Tang Performing Arts Center and has created the Tang Family Endowment for Excellence in Teaching with $5 million. Tang resides in New York City and Vail, Colorado with his wife. Tang was honored as Vail Valley's Citizen of the Year in 2004. In June 2016, Oscar L. Tang was honored by the Metropolitan Museum with its Business Committee Civic Leadership Award for his service and contribution as a longtime trustee and philanthropist.[42]

Phillips Academy and the Tang Institute at Andover[edit]

In 2008, he gave $25 million to Phillips Academy.[41] It was the largest single donation in the school's 230-year history.[41] The gift was used to support "need-blind admission" allowing smart students from less affluent families to attend the elite boarding school, according to headmaster Barbara Landis Chase.[41] As of 2008, Tang has contributed close to $41 million to Phillips Academy, helping boost the school's endowment over $800 million.[41] Before being instated as the President of the Phillips Academy Board of Trustees, he was a charter trustee since 1995 and a major school volunteer for over two decades. He was instrumental in preserving the buildings and campus of the former Abbot Academy, which merged with Phillips Academy, when there had been discussion about razing the no-longer-used structures; Tang's philanthropy gave funds for preservation of these buildings. Tang's term ended on July 1, 2012, when he was succeeded by Peter Currie '74, business executive and former Netscape Chief Financial Officer.[43]

In October 2014, Tang gave an additional $15 million to establish the Tang Institute at Andover.[44] "A physical and virtual hub for entrepreneurial exploration, the Tang Institute at Andover supports community ideas for innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Focused on the Andover experience and advances in secondary education more broadly, the Institute encourages experimentation, interdisciplinary collaboration, new partnerships, connected learning, and ongoing assessment. By harnessing the intellectual curiosity and creativity of faculty and students—both in and out of the classroom—the Tang Institute seeks to have a lasting impact on campus and beyond." For more information about the Tang Institute at Andover, see http://tanginstitute.andover.edu/

Metropolitan Museum of Art[edit]

Tang is a member of the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[45] He gave $14 million in 1997 to enable the museum to purchase rare and valuable Chinese paintings, most notably what is commonly known as the Riverbank by Dong Yuan.[46] His gift included 11 major paintings from the C.C. Wang collection and additional funding toward Chinese art galleries. A gallery is named after Tang's late wife, Frances Young Tang. In 2013, Tang further contributed to the Metropolitan Museum's acquisition of a collection of Tibetan and Nepalese masterpieces that were once part of the Zimmerman Family Collection.

In March 2015, Oscar L. Tang, the first Chinese-American trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 20 years and a leading patron of its Chinese collection, gave an additional 15 million to create new curatorial and conservation staff appointments and programming to the Museum's Asian Centennial.[47][48]

Oscar L. Tang received the Met Museum's Civic Leadership Award in June 2016.

New York Philharmonic[edit]

Tang is a trustee of the New York Philharmonic and has supported the Orchestra's summer residency in Vail as part of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival for many years. The New York Philharmonic is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five" and the oldest American symphonic institution. The Philharmonic's home is David Geffen Hall, located in New York's Lincoln Center.

Oscar Tang and his wife Agnes Hsu -Tang at the NY Philharmonic Chinese New Year gala in 2013

The Tang Center for Early China at Columbia University[edit]

Columbia University and its Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures have announced the creation of the Tang Center for Early China. The new center, made possible through a $5 million endowment gift from Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang, will help advance society’s understanding of the richness and importance of early Chinese civilizations as part of a broader common human heritage.[49] For more information about the Tang Center, see http://ealac.columbia.edu/tang-center/.

The P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University[edit]

Oscar L. Tang funded the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art in honor of his parents. The Center sponsors and facilitates scholarly exchange by bringing together scholars, students, and the general public through interdisciplinary and innovative programs, including lectures and symposia, film series, publications, graduate education, museum development and exhibitions. For more information about the Center, see http://www.princeton.edu/tang/.

The P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for Silk Road Studies at the University of California, Berkeley[edit]

Mr. Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang, and his nieces and nephew -- Nadine Tang, Leslie Schilling, and Martin Tang -- provided a $5 million endowment gift to Berkeley to establish the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center, the first American institutionalized center dedicated to the study of the historical trading networks serially known as the Silk Road. The Center promotes the research and teaching of the material and visual cultures that flourished along the Silk Road and formed a bridge between the many economic epicenters of Eurasia and China.[50]

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College[edit]

Tang gave $10.2 million for the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in 2000.[29] Tang's daughter was a trustee at Skidmore College. The purpose of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is to awaken the community to the richness and diversity of the human experience through the medium of art. Every year the Museum has a designated day in honor of its namesake and alumna, Frances Young Tang, called Frances Day.[51]

Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion Exhibition at the New-York Historical Society[edit]

In September 2014, the New-York Historical Society, New York's oldest art museum, opened the first comprehensive exhibition on the history of Chinese in America. Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion[52] was a highly successful and critically acclaimed show that chronicled the complex history of the Chinese in America—the challenges of immigration, citizenship, and belonging that shaped both the Chinese American experience and the development of the United States as a nation. This exhibition was made possible by the leadership support from Oscar Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang. New-York Historical Society later donated this exhibition to the Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco, where it is now on permanent display.


  1. ^ https://www.economist.com/news/business/21702204-chinese-bosses-are-giving-more-charity-emperors-gift
  2. ^ Semple, Kirk (January 8, 2013). "As Asian-Americans' Numbers Grow, So Does Their Philanthropy". The New York Times.
  3. ^ http://www.stjacademy.org/cf_enotify/view.cfm?n=724
  4. ^ An Andover Life documentary on Youtube
  5. ^ "Frances L. Young Betrothed To Oscar Tang, Yale 1960". The New York Times. June 1960. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  6. ^ http://www.cemconnections.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=149#FN5
  7. ^ http://gate.sinovision.net:82/gate/big5/video.sinovision.net/?id=25668
  8. ^ LIZ PEEK (May 8, 2007). "Lulu Wang Throttles Back (Except on the Racetrack)". New York Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-10. ... a group of high-level Chinese-Americans — who include I.M. Pei, Yo-Yo Ma, and Oscar Tang — created shortly after the Tiananmen Square crackdown to "encourage rapport and understanding between two countries that I love and have great loyalty to,...
  9. ^ Eric Pace (February 4, 1992). "Frances Tang, 53; Was Philanthropist and Preservationist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10. Frances Young Tang, a philanthropist in the field of education and a preservationist specializing in landmark buildings, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 53 years old ...
  10. ^ http://www.chinainperspective.com/ArtShow.aspx?AID=20117
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/fashion/weddings/hsin-mei-hsu-oscar-tang-weddings.html?_r=0
  12. ^ http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/s/1587/images/gid2/editor_documents/education/the_new_monuments_men_-_participant_bios.pdf?sessionid=4110ed7f-d04b-4f50-9460-e190d7a6f28a
  13. ^ http://ealac.columbia.edu/portfolio-items/h-m-agnes-hsu-tang/
  14. ^ http://video.sinovision.net/?id=20608
  15. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/482/
  16. ^ http://ricci.bc.edu/people/xu-guangqi.html
  17. ^ https://www.ucanews.com/news/church-to-beatify-early-china-convert-in-shanghai/13012
  18. ^ http://www.cdrb.com.cn/html/2012-06/14/content_1608968.htm
  19. ^ https://www.mastersny.org/cf_news/view.cfm?newsid=149
  20. ^ "WEDDINGS; Dana Tang and Andrew Darrell". The New York Times: Style. February 8, 1998. Retrieved 2010-01-10. Dana Tang, a daughter of Oscar L. Tang of New York and the late Frances Young Tang, was married last evening to Andrew Haid Darrell,
  21. ^ http://asiasociety.org/hong-kong/memory-dr-jack-tang-chi-chien
  22. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/giving/12CHINA.html?_r=0
  23. ^ https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E6%96%B9%E9%97%BB
  24. ^ https://artandarchaeology.princeton.edu/people/faculty/wen-fong
  25. ^ static.ow.ly/docs/power%20100_Y55.pdf
  26. ^ http://greatimmigrants.carnegie.org/profile/oscar-tang/
  27. ^ JUDITH H. DOBRZYNSKI (May 19, 1997). "11 Major Chinese Paintings Promised to Met". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10. ... Six of the works in the gift will go on display immediately in the galleries, whose expansion was a two-year, $14 million project. The gift is being made by Oscar L. Tang, an investment manager who is a trustee of the Metropolitan and put up the money for the paintings. ...
  28. ^ http://www.yale.edu/printer/bulletin/htmlfiles/architecture/endowment-and-term-funds.html
  29. ^ a b HOLLAND COTTER (December 22, 2000). "ART REVIEW; Party Time: Inside and Out, Playful Wit Reigns at Skidmore's New Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10. The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. ... Paid for mostly by a gift from the Chinese-born American businessman Oscar Tang, whose daughter and wife Frances both graduated from Skidmore, the $10.2 million museum ...
  30. ^ http://www.vvf.org
  31. ^ http://dunhuangfoundation.us
  32. ^ http://www.gordonparksfoundation.org
  33. ^ June 7, 2009 (June 7, 2009). "EVENING HOURS; June Moon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10. The Gordon Parks Foundation, which preserves and promulgates the work of Mr. Parks, a groundbreaking photographer, had a dinner at Gotham Hall ... OSCAR TANG,
  34. ^ http://ealac.columbia.edu/tang-center/
  35. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/tang/about/
  36. ^ http://www.gbcacm.org/venues/cambridge/mit-building-e51-tang-center.html
  37. ^ https://chroniclevitae.com/jobs/0000795258-01
  38. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (November 12, 2007). "For Chinese-Americans, Schools Earn the Prize". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Brice, Anne (May 4, 2017). "Berkeley to open first university center for Silk Road study in North America". The University of California.
  40. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (November 12, 2007). "For Chinese-Americans, Schools Earn the Prize". The New York Times.
  41. ^ a b c d e Globe Staff (February 6, 2008). "Alumnus donates $25 million to Phillips Academy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-01-10. Phillips Academy in Andover announced today that the school had received a $25 million donation, the largest single gift in its 230-year history, from retired Wall Street investor Oscar L. Tang.
  42. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-08/corbat-gets-de-blasio-toast-at-the-met-as-clinton-takes-brooklyn
  43. ^ "Currie '74 Elected to Succeed Tang as Board President July 2012". Phillips Academy. 15 February 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  44. ^ https://www.andover.edu/about/newsroom/pages/introducing-the-tang-institute.aspx
  45. ^ Bill Cunningham (December 9, 2007). "EVENING HOURS; Season of Giving". The New York Times: Style. Retrieved 2010-01-10. The Acquisitions Fund Benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a gala for the opening of the new 19th- and early-20th-century galleries. ... and OSCAR TANG with
  46. ^ JUDITH H. DOBRZYNSKI (May 25, 1997). "Landscapes Were Never The Same". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-10. Southern Tang Dynasty scholar Dong Yuan created the illusion of depth and distance as he painted mountains and rivers on silk. He was a founder of the Chinese monumental landscape style. Last week, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened its new Chinese galleries, one of a few surviving works attributed to Dong Yuan, The Riverbank, had pride of place. ... Part of the renowned collection of 90-year-old C. C. Wang, an artist who escaped from Communist China in the 1950s, it had been bought for the Met by the financier Oscar L. Tang.
  47. ^ http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/news/2015/landmark-gifts-for-asian-art-department
  48. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-china-show-the-met-goes-where-the-money-is-1430875806
  49. ^ http://news.columbia.edu/oncampus/3681
  50. ^ http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2017-05/19/content_29416639.htm
  51. ^ https://tang.skidmore.edu/index.php/posts/view/858/
  52. ^ http://chineseamerican.nyhistory.org/explore/

External links[edit]