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"You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give"

Following its record sale at auction, the former owner of Spitfire P9374 Tom Kaplan spoke about his decision to donate the proceeds from the sale to charity.

Tom, an American philanthropist, funded the project to restore two Mk1 Vickers Supermarine Spitfires to their original 1940s condition. No expense was spared, all parts sourced for the restoration had to be from that era or made to those historical specifications.

Spitfire P9374 and its donor Thomas KaplanThomas Kaplan will donate some of the proceeds of the sale of his Spitfire to the RAF Benevolent Fund

One aircraft has been donated to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, the other was auctioned by Christie's on Thursday and commanded a record £3.1million price.

Proceeds from the sale will be shared with Panthera, a wildlife conservation charity, WildCRU and Stop Ivory.

"My family has a tremendous passion for wildlife conservation particularly big cats but also other species and we drew a parallel with the near extinction of British liberty in 1940 and the imperilled nature of wildlife species today. We drew a parallel between those Few who stood up and refused to accept defeat.

"We thought what better way to be able to draw the parallels, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of France, the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, to be able to, as an American and a Jew, say ‘thank you’ to Britain for having stood alone before my own country entered the war and held the line until our enemies made some mistakes."

Tom was speaking at a reception following the Spitfire’s sale, on the eve of a national event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain.

"When you think about what is really important, it is about remembrance. It is about never forgetting, it is about gratitude.

"I cannot say it often enough, a line that often been mis-attributed to Winston Churchill, 'you make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give'. I can certainly tell you that as someone who has collected a painting or two and has been known to have sometimes an inquisitive side, it is much greater to give something away.

"We hope that we have been able to show, when it is time to step up it is all about being able to express gratitude and it is as they used to say in World War I 'it is not words, it is deeds that count'."
 

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