Charles Feeney Dies at 92

Charles Feeney dies at 92
Photo by: Jim Wilson/The New York Times/Redux

Charles Feeney Dies at 92: Charles “Chuck” Feeney passed dead. He was a retail entrepreneur and businessman who accumulated a multimillion-dollar fortune before donating it all. 92 years old.

According to Feeney’s foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, he passed away in San Francisco on Monday.

With a Cornell University undergraduate classmate, Feeney co-founded Duty-Free Shoppers, a chain of duty-free airport boutiques that specialized in luxury products, in 1960, which is how he made much of his income.

The French luxury goods company LVMH purchased Feeney’s interests in DFS in 1996, and as of the moment, LVMH owns the bulk of the shop. Based on the brand’s website, DFS boasts over 850 boutiques across several countries.

According to the Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney was a supporter of “Giving While Living,” feeling that he could have a greater impact on subjects he was passionate about while he was still living rather than establishing a foundation after his passing.

“It’s much more fun to give while you are alive than to give when you are dead,” Feeney said in a biography about him, “The Billionaire Who Wasn’t.”

According to the organization, Feeney founded the Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982 and gave it all of his commercial holdings two years later. The organization declared that it had successfully donated all of its cash and closed its doors in 2020.

Across five continents, the Atlantic Philanthropies awarded donations totaling $8 billion, the majority of which were given out anonymously, according to the organization. Donations benefited human rights, healthcare, education, and other causes. According to the organization’s website, Feeney’s charity has made donations to medical facilities focused on treating cancer and cardiovascular disease, universities in Ireland, and infrastructure in Vietnam.

According to Feeney’s foundation, he lived a frugal lifestyle during the final thirty years of his life. He preferred to live in a leased flat in San Francisco and did not buy a car or a house.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Feeney was born into an Irish-American working-class family during the Great Depression. In 1952, he used the GI Bill to register at Cornell University. In his family, he was the first to attend college.

Given his substantial investment in Cornell, Feeney has been referred to as the university’s “third founder.” According to an obituary on Cornell’s website, he has donated around $1 billion to the university through his foundation since 1982.

The “Giving Pledge,” which was initiated by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, calls on the richest families and people in America to pledge their fortune to charitable causes, was signed by Feeney in 2011.

“I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living — to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition,” Feeney stated in his pledge letter.

Credits: CNN

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