Forbes magazine once called him the “James Bond of philanthropy.” Meet Chuck Feeney, an American businessman, and philanthropist who made his fortune as a co-founder of the Duty-Free Shoppers Group, which pioneered the concept of “duty-free shopping.”
“You can only wear one pair of pants at a time,” Mr. Feeney has said.
Feeney is also the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world. For years, he gave away his fortune in secret, until a business dispute resulted in his identity being revealed in 1997. His commitment to philanthropy — which has inspired donations totaling over $8 billion, has been dedicated to education, research, civil rights, youth and aging.
Last month, he gave away the last of his fortune.
Nearly five years ago, Charles F. Feeney sat in a cushy armchair in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan, grandchildren’s artwork taped to the walls, and said that by the end of 2016, he was going to hand out the last of a great fortune that he had made.
It was a race: Mr. Feeney was then 81, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of private foundations he had started and funded, still had about $1.5 billion left. Flinging money out the window or writing checks willy-nilly was not Mr. Feeney’s way.
Last month, Mr. Feeney and Atlantic completed the sprint and made a final grant, $7 million to Cornell University, to support students doing community service work.
What a hero!