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Billionaire Gives Away Entire Fortune During His Lifetime

Renowned Irish American entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Francis "Chuck" Feeney, who selflessly dedicated his entire personal fortune to global philanthropy during his lifetime, peacefully passed away on 9 October in San Francisco at the age of 92.


Charles Francis "Chuck" Feeney
Credit: The Atlantic Philanthropies

Mr. Feeney's philanthropic endeavors, orchestrated through The Atlantic Philanthropies, anonymously dispensed over $8 billion in grants across five continents. Bill Gates hailed him as the "ultimate example of giving while living" and Warren Buffet called him a "hero". As his philanthropy was anonymous, Forbes dubbed him the James Bond of philanthropy.


"I had one idea that never changed in my mind - that you should use your wealth to help people," Feeney wrote in his biography. "Try it, you'll like it," he added. "It's much more fun to give while you are alive than to give when you are dead."


Feeney's humble beginnings during the Great Depression, growing up with Irish American parents who instilled strong values and a strong work ethic, never left him, even as he achieved great success in the business world. Feeney made much of his fortune after co-founding Duty Free Shoppers, a chain of duty-free airport stores specializing in luxury goods.


In 1982 Feeney and his family established the Atlantic Foundation and later transferred all his business assets to it.


By the time the foundation was dissolved in 2020, Atlantic had disbursed over $8 billion in grants around the world. According to Forbes, almost half of his fortune went towards education.

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