August 17, 2011, 5:15 PM

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gives $10 million to a Seattle museum

It’s the largest donation in the 59-year history of the Museum of History and Industry.

Lead Photo

Jeff Bezos owns a stake in Amazon worth about $17.4 billion. Inc. is doing very well, thank you, and founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is sharing the wealth with a $10 million donation to Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

The museum, focused on the history of Seattle and its leading companies, announced the gift on its blog. The posting says Bezos’ gift will underwrite the creation of a Center for Innovation at the museum’s new facility, due to open in late 2012 just a few blocks from Amazon’s corporate campus.

The Center of Innovation will highlight how Seattle-area companies such as Boeing Co., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon have contributed to advancing technology and industry. “There’s something about Seattle that has made it an unusually good place to innovate, and the MOHAI Center for Innovation will help Seattle continue on that course by showcasing and teaching how industrial innovation can play an important role in human advancement,” the blog post quotes Bezos as saying.

Leonard Garfield, the museum’s executive director, called Bezos “one of the leading visionaries and inventors of our time. We are fortunate to have him in our own backyard, helping continue Seattle’s renown for large-scale innovation.”

Bezos is in a strong position to make big donations given Amazon’s surging sales. The No. 1 online retailer in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, Amazon reported a 51% year-over-year increase in second quarter sales to $9.9 billion, though Q2 net income declined 7.7% from the prior year quarter to $191.0 million.

Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, owns 19.5% of Amazon’s shares, a stake currently worth about $17.4 billion.

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