NEW YORK -- The billionaire who withheld money from charities in his hometown Cleveland has given the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum $12 million, but only after persuading the director to cut spending. \nPeter Lewis, the museum's chairman and biggest donor, told Guggenheim director Thomas Krens several months ago to improve the museum's finances or face losing his job. \n"In the last four or five months, I stopped cajoling and started seriously threatening,'' Lewis told The New York Times in Wednesday editions. \nKrens worked out a 2003 budget of $24 million, about half the level of several years ago and 13 percent less than last year. The museum board approved the budget Monday. \n"The financial situation at the museum is solid, more solid than it has been in a long time," said Lewis, whose donation was used to pay off debt. \n"What Peter has done is extraordinarily generous," Krens said. "We delivered the plan, and he found the plan so acceptable that he was moved to give $12 million." \nKrens said the budget anticipates no changes in scheduled exhibitions for the coming year. \nLewis, chairman of the suburban Cleveland-based insurance company Progressive Corp., is well known for his giving, especially to the arts. \nHe announced in June that he was stopping charitable contributions in Cleveland because he believed that the private Case Western Reserve University was poorly managed and its national academic stature fell short of its potential. He hopes his boycott will force a change in the university's board. \nLewis said in a recent interview he's more optimistic now about the university, but not satisfied by recent concessions from Case that include gradual change in the board's composition. He has repeatedly said the entire board should be replaced.
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