The Bay Lights Returns With Brilliant Permanence


Iconic Light Sculpture Gifted to the People of California
Tad Taube and Taube Philanthropies provide pivotal support


Top (L to R): Taube Philanthropies Chairman Tad Taube, Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, ILLUMINATE Founder Ben Davis, Former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Bottom: Fireworks over The Bay Lights 

Photos: Drew Altizer Photography


San Francisco (February 10, 2016)—Leo Villareal’s monumental work of public art, The Bay Lights, returned to the Bay Bridge as a permanent installation on January 30, 2016. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, philanthropist Tad Taube, ILLUMINATE founder Ben Davis, and artist Leo Villareal pushed the ceremonial button at 7:25 pm. When the 25,000 LEDs once again shone in the world’s largest light sculpture, Newsom and Pelosi officially accepted the gift of the installation on behalf of the people of California in exchange for ongoing stewardship of the artwork by the Bay Area Toll Authority and Caltrans.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said, "I think a lot people forget the Bay Bridge is owned by the people of California and managed by Caltrans—we will be responsible for maintaining these lights. What an incredibly gracious gift this is. The private sector stepped up in partnership with the region and the State, and we are all going to be the beneficiaries of this for generations to come.” 

Congresswoman Pelosi added: “The Bay Lights is a beautiful tribute to our beloved city. San Francisco has long served as a beacon of hope, welcoming people and ideas from around the world. With this brilliant work of public art, the Bay Bridge will shine even brighter. Thanks to the contributions of ILLUMINATE and the vision of artist Leo Villareal, this permanent display will continue to celebrate our rich heritage.”

The Bay Lights was due to be permanently removed from the bridge in March 2015 when its original two-year permit expired, until Tad Taube, Chairman of Taube Philanthropies, offered to provide $2 million toward the $4 million needed to keep the lights on and successfully encouraged fellow members of the Bay Area community to provide the financial support necessary to keep an inspiring light sculpture on the Bay Bridge shining. 


“When Tad Taube discovered that The Bay Lights would disappear forever without public support, he also recognized it would require very significant financial support to ensure sufficient funds were raised. His $2 million matching grant became absolutely pivotal, helping ILLUMINATE to inspire additional gifts, increasing visibility of the need for funds, and creating real momentum. The Bay Lights will now become a permanent part of the Bay Area because of Mr. Taube, and for that we are extremely grateful,” said Ben Davis. 

“The Bay Lights enriches San Francisco’s beauty and majesty, as well as that of our extraordinary San Francisco Bay,” said Tad Taube. “I am proud of and grateful to our fellow citizens for joining us in ensuring this magnificent work of art remains a part of our city.”

The Bay Lights was re-installed in time to shine for Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. 


ILLUMINATE aims to alter the arc of human history through the creation of transformational works of public art. Its mission is to produce contemporary art with civic impact, social activation, and global reach to stimulate a culture of generosity and collaboration. With regards to The Bay Lights, ILLUMINATE’s new Shine It Forward program lets people dedicate a light to someone they love. Donations will empower the non-profit arts organization to create future works of awe-inspiring public art. Personalized dedications can be made at


Taube Philanthropies was established in 1981 by its founder and chairman, Tad Taube. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and with an office in Warsaw, the Foundation makes philanthropic investments primarily in the Bay Area and Poland, in scholarship, heritage preservation, arts and culture, education, and institution-building. Taube Philanthropies is committed to collaborative giving for greatest charitable impact and actively partners with individual donors and other foundations. For additional information, please visit