After 38 years of secret donations, billionaire Chuck Feeney reaches goal of giving it all away

by Peter Heck · Sep 24th, 2020 8:42 am

Last Updated Sep 25th, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Billionaire Chuck Feeney has accomplished his life goal of charitably giving away the entire fortune he made from co-founding the Duty-Free Shoppers Group.

For those who know him, the 89-year-old Feeney hardly looks the part of a self-made billionaire. He owns one pair of shoes, has no car, flies economy, and rents a small apartment. Yet through his frugality and business savvy, the Korean War veteran Feeney had accumulated an $8 billion nest egg over the course of his life.

In 1982, Feeney set up The Atlantic Philanthropies, with the objective of secretly giving away every penny. His identity was revealed to the public in 1997 when he sold his shares of the company.

It took nearly four decades, but the charity has finally run out of money.

Feeney, whose grandparents immigrated to America from Ireland, expressed gratitude that he had lived long enough to see the completion of his goal.

"Wealth brings responsibility," he said. "People must define themselves, or feel a responsibility to use some of their assets to improve the lives of their fellow humans, or else create intractable problems for future generations."

Feeney's generosity has inspired other billionaires, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, to make the pledge of giving away at least half of their own fortunes to charity. Upon hearing the news of Feeney's completed mission, Buffet commented that the elderly businessman was "my hero and Bill Gates' hero; he should be everybody's hero."

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