Cal State to benefit from gift of $10M sports car collection

Nicholas Begovich, 98, with his European sports car collection, which he and his wife, Lee, are donating to California State University, Fullerton, as a $10 million planned gift. Image courtesy of California State University, Fullerton

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) – A 98-year-old retired engineering executive has donated $10 million to California State University, Fullerton that he hopes will help expose students to the “absolute wonders” of science.

The gift from Nicholas Begovich will go to CSUF’s Center for Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy center. It will be named after Begovich and his wife, Lee, 91, an art historian and former first-grade teacher.

Begovich didn’t write a check, the Orange County Register reported. He is handing over the couple’s collection of 15 postwar European sports cars — including a Pegaso, Lamborghini, Talbot-Lago, Ferrari and a DeTomaso Pantera Coupe — that will be sold.

The newspaper said the gift will support the center’s research into gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time produced by the massive collision of two black holes.

“If you look at what Einstein did 100 years ago, he predicted gravitational waves, and he did it by sitting at a table with a pad of paper and pencil and cooked it up in his mind,” Begovich said at a ceremony Saturday night. “It took 100 years to get the technology to actually measure what he said.”

The Begoviches have made several gifts to CSUF and already have a campus art gallery in their name.

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