'James Bond of Philanthropy' Has Gone 'Broke'

Billionaire Chuck Feeney inspired Warren Buffett's giving
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2020 9:50 AM CDT

Chuck Feeney made billions after co-founding airport retailer Duty Free Shoppers in 1960. He's been "living a life of monklike frugality" ever since, according to Forbes, which reports the world is better for it. The "James Bond of philanthropy" has anonymously donated more than $8 billion to charities, foundations, and colleges through his own foundation, leaving him "broke," the magazine reports. "I am very satisfied," says the 89-year-old, who pioneered the idea of "Giving While Living"—donating your fortune while you're still alive to see the good it can do. Warren Buffett cites Feeney as inspiring the Giving Pledge, a call for billionaires to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. "He's a model for us all," he tells Forbes. "It's going to take me 12 years after my death to get done what he's doing within his lifetime."

Feeney officially closed his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, which once included 10 global offices, on Monday, per Forbes. The Observer notes he has completed his mission, started in 1984, to donate all of his wealth—except for a reported $2 million in retirement savings he'd put aside for himself years ago, per People. The Zoom ceremony for his foundation's closure included a message from Giving Pledge co-founder Bill Gates. Feeney also received an official letter of thanks from Congress. "I feel very good about completing this on my watch," he tells Forbes. The outlet reports he donated $3.7 billion to education, with $1 billion going to Cornell; more than $870 million to human rights and social change, including $76 million to campaigns supporting passage of the Affordable Care Act; and more than $700 million to health, including $270 million to boost public health care in Vietnam. (More billionaires stories.)

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