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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Charles Frances Feeney

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

Charles Frances Feeney is a self-made billionaire who had one main life goal - to die broke. He is the founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the world. He has given away more than $8 billion. He is an Irish-American businessman and philanthropist who made his fortune as a co-founder of the Hong Kong based Duty free Shoppers Group. He doesn’t own a place, doesn’t own a car, rents a small apartment, flies economy class, and owns one pair of shoes, has a $ 10 Casio watch, and his papers in a plastic bag. That is him. The story of his frugality is true.

Instead of indulging himself, Feeney set up a foundation called the Atlantic Philanthropies in secret in 1982 and transferred almost all his wealth into it. He made countless endowments to charities and universities across the world for 38 years. Now, at the age of 89 years he has finally run out of money and achieved his goal of “striving for zero to give it all away.” He gave more than $3.7 billion to higher education institutions, $1 billion to Cornell university, $870 million to human right groups, $62 million in grants to groups and companies to end the death penalty, $76 million to Obamacare. His selfless nature has shocked others billionaires today, all of whom hail him a notable role model. Bill Gate has said that Feeney was the inspiration behind both the $30 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Giving While Living pledge, which has enlisted more than 90 of the world’s richest to grant their wealth to charity.

Charles Frances Feeney (Chuck Feeney) was born on April 23, 1931 during the Great Depression and came from a modest background of blue collar Irish-American parents in Elizabeth, New Jersey US. He graduated from from Elizabeth’s St. Mary of the Assumption High School in 1449, and also graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He was married to Danielle in 1959 in Paris. They have four daughters and one son. Feeney divorced Danielle in 1991 and married Helga in 1995.

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