Charles feeney he never had a house of his own or even a car. His watch cost him just over $ 10 and, at 89, he has no frills in his life. However, and although his austerity might suggest otherwise, this man is a billionaire: he amassed a fortune of more than 8,000 million dollars.
He succeeded when, in 1960, he changed his business: he decided that the stores he used to sell products to the US military traveling to Europe would become duty-free stores. Thus he created, together with his partner Robert Miller, a business empire that all those who have ever taken a plane will have helped to build. His company, Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), today employs more than 9,000 people around the world.
However, beyond the successes in business, what Charles Feeney was really interested in was helping others and he began to donate money to different associations and projects all over the planet. Feeney traveled the world with his businesses, but took the opportunity to learn about the needs of different groups who, secretly and disinterestedly, he handed over large amounts of money.
His biographer, Conor O’Clery, assures that Feeney’s life changed after reading “Wealth”, the work of a famous American philanthropist named Andrew Carnegie which is also known as “The Gospel of Wealth.” Some phrases like “to die rich is to die in disgrace” They made Charles Feeney change.
Charles Feeney and a shocking decision.
When he turned 50, the business magnate decided to create a foundation to channel his donations. Thus, in 1982, The Atlantic Philanthropies was born, an NGO aimed at distribute your fortune around the world through donations to the most diverse causes.
However, for the first 15 years of its existence, these donations continued to be made in secret, so there were those who hung the nickname of being the James Bond of philanthropy. Now 89, Charles Feeney can look back and be satisfied with what he did with his life.
As published by the BBC, His philanthropic organization will cease to exist at the end of this year because it served its purpose: to give all his money to just causes while he was alive. In total, about 8,000 million dollars, more than 7,000 million euros to change.
Duty Free, the heart of the Feeney emporium. Photo: AFP
The cause closest to his heart was education and he received the highest percentage of donations. Cornell University, his alma mater, received nearly a trillion dollars over the years for projects such as building a technology campus.
Another $ 870 million went to social causes focused on human rights. He donated 62 million in grants to groups working to abolish the death penalty in the United States and 76 million for campaigns that promoted the Obamacare project.
Health was another big cause Feeney paid attention to. He donated more than 700 million in aid to this sector, including a grant of 270 million dollars to improve the public health system in Vietnam and a check of 176 million to the Institute of Global Brain Health of the University of California, San Francisco.
Charles Feeney and Bill Gates, whom he added to his philanthropic cause.
Charles Feeney, Chuck to his friends, He lives today with his wife in a small two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.. He doesn’t need more because he’s happy like that, just like with his ten-dollar watch. His way of seeing life influenced other great millionaires such as Warren Buffet or the Gates couple, who joined his initiative to “donate while you live.” A great man.
Sources: El Confidencial / BBC