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Billionaire gives away his entire fortune
By Jerry Brownstein
Chuck Feeney spent the first 50 years of his life working hard to become incredibly wealthy, and he has spent the last 30 years giving it all away. In 1984 Feeney put all of his money into Atlantic Philanthropies; a foundation he set up with specific instructions to dispense his entire fortune before his death. So far he has donated over five billion euros to various projects that support education, science, health care, aging and civil rights in the US, Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda, South Africa and Ireland. No one at his wealth level has ever given away their entire fortune so completely during their lifetime.
Mr Feeney was raised in humble surroundings in New Jersey, US, during the Depression. He was one of the first to see the potential of duty free shopping, and eventually made a fortune through his DFS duty free shops around the world. He retired in 1984, and since then has been devoted to finding worthy causes where his money can make a positive difference in people’s lives.
For much of his career as a philanthropist Feeney insisted on secrecy, and no one knew who was making these huge donations. His “giving while living” philosophy is said to have inspired Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the world’s richest men, to set up their charitable organisations. According to Gates, “Chuck Feeney is a remarkable role model,” and his example has led to the ‘Giving Pledge’, in which more than 90 of the world’s richest people have promised to eventually grant half their wealth to charity.
When Mr Feeney’s foundation finish making its grants will leave him with just enough money to lead a simple life for his remaining years. When asked to comment about his decision to give everything to good causes he said, “I had one idea that never changed in my mind – that you should use your wealth to help people.” His financial plan is simple: “I want the last cheque I write to bounce.”