The Man Who Made $7.5 Billion and Gave Away 99% Of His Wealth

A note: Since this article came out this billionaire ia now down to his last million and he is happy with that. Read all about him.

Chuck FeeneyChuck Feeney is an 82 year old Irish man who has made over $7.5 billion in his lifetime which he made by “hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops.” In 1984 Feeney transferred the entire 38.75% of his ownership stake in his company, Duty Free Shoppers, to his Atlantic Philanthropies; he kept $2 million worth of assets for himself. Most interestingly – he worked hard to keep his philanthropic efforts highly secretive; he either made anonymous donations or forced organizations not to disclose him as the donor. He was quite successful at evading notoriety for decades.

“I want the last check I write to bounce.”

Over the years – as a board member for DFS – he pushed to ensure the business was more profitable even though that money only generated money for his charitable foundation. $6.2 of the $7.5 billion has already been given to various organizations with a focus on education and research; the remaining $1.3 billion is slated to be given out by 2016. Chuck Feeney is the guy who Bill Gates says inspired him to give away the majority of his fortune using the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; many other billionaires like Warren Buffett have followed suit.. Forbes did a great profile of him HERE. The NY Times has a nice recap on him HERE.

“I’m a competitive type of person whether it’s playing a game of basketball or playing business games. I don’t dislike money, but there’s only so much money you can use.”

He donated almost $1 billion to Cornell University over the years; he graduated there in 1956 (source). He has donated $1.5 billion to Irish education and hundreds of millions to Irish charities (source). He gave $10 million to fund HIV research (source).

The Daily Mail gives some other breakdowns of his charities HERE:

Operation Smile, a project to treat children born with cleft palates, has had $19.5 million from Atlantic, while cancer projects have had $370 million.

AIDS research in South Africa has had $117 million in investments from the foundation.

He has given $28 million to support the abolition of the death penalty in the United States and has campaigned for eight million children in the country without health insurance to be covered.

This guy is my hero and is a reminder of the greatness that really exists in all of us. Someone called him “An Impossible-to-Live-up-to Hero”; I’d say that’ about right.

Yourdailymedia has some great graphs showing where the money went HERE: