Us

Billionaire history buff donates millions to help repair Washington Monument

A tourist takes a picture of the recently damaged Washington Monument as clouds from Hurricane Irene moves up the Eastern Seaboard towards Washington, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.  The monument has been closed to the public it was damaged in the earthquake that shook the capital last Tuesday. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

A tourist takes a picture of the recently damaged Washington Monument as clouds from Hurricane Irene moves up the Eastern Seaboard towards Washington, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. The monument has been closed to the public it was damaged in the earthquake that shook the capital last Tuesday. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)  (AP2011)

A billionaire history buff says he will donate the final $7.5 million needed to repair cracks atop the Washington Monument caused by last summer's earthquake that shook the East Coast.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein tells The Associated Press he felt inspired to help after learning about cracks and chipped stonework high up the 555-foot obelisk from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake Aug. 23.

His gift is expected to be announced Thursday.

Congress allocated $7.5 million late last year, expecting a matching amount to be raised privately.

Daredevil engineers inspected the damage by slithering down ropes, and a report in December found the obelisk structurally sound but needing extensive repairs.

Rubenstein is co-founder of The Carlyle Group private equity firm. He says he wants the monument reopened to the public as soon as possible.