Charles Feeney was a former billionaire and philanthropist who gave away most of his fortune to various causes around the world. He was born on April 23, 1931 in New Jersey and co-founded Duty Free Shoppers, a chain of duty-free airport shops, in 1960. He secretly transferred all his assets to his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, in 1984 and donated more than $8 billion to education, health care, human rights and more until it closed in 2020. He lived a frugal and low-profile life and inspired other wealthy people to join the Giving Pledge. He died on October 9, 2023 at the age of 92 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Charles Feeney Biography Profile
|Name||Charles Francis Feeney|
|Date of Birth||April 23, 1931|
|Birth Place||Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA|
|Age (as of 2023)||92 years old (deceased)|
|Profession||Businessman and philanthropist|
|Nationality||American and Irish|
|Home Town/State||San Francisco, California|
|School||St. Mary of the Assumption High School|
|Educational Qualification||Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration|
|Hobbies||Reading, traveling, golfing|
|Marital Status||Married twice|
|Net Worth||$2 million (as of 2020)|
Charles Feeney Early Life and Education
Charles Feeney was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to a working-class Irish-American family. His father was an insurance underwriter and his mother was a nurse. He attended St. Mary of the Assumption High School and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He enrolled at Cornell University in 1952 with the help of the GI Bill and graduated in 1956 with a degree in hotel administration.
Charles Feeney Family Details
|Father Name||Leo Feeney|
|Mother Name||Madeline Feeney|
|Wife/Husband||Charles Feeney (m. 1959 – d. 1990), Helga Feeney (m. 1995 – d. 2023)|
|Children||Five children: Leslie, Diane, Patrick, David and Juliet Feeney|
Must Read: Who is Charles Feeney’s wife Helga Feeney?
Charles Feeney Career Highlight
Charles Feeney was a co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), a chain of duty-free airport shops that sold luxury goods to travelers. He started the business in 1960 with his Cornell classmate Robert Miller and expanded it to a global empire with over 850 stores in more than 40 countries. He sold his stake in DFS to LVMH in 1996 for $1.63 billion. He also invested in other businesses such as General Atlantic, a private equity firm that backed companies like Facebook and Alibaba.
Feeney was also a prolific philanthropist who pioneered the concept of “giving while living”, donating most of his wealth to various causes while he was alive instead of leaving it to a foundation after his death. He founded The Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982 and secretly transferred all his assets to it by 1984. He gave away more than $8 billion to charities, universities and foundations worldwide through his foundation until it closed in 2020. His donations supported education, health care, human rights, peace and reconciliation, science and technology, and more. He was especially generous to Ireland, where he obtained citizenship in 1997 and funded projects such as the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, the Irish peace process, and the Good Friday Agreement.
Feeney was known for his frugal lifestyle and low profile. He did not own a car or a house, flew economy class, wore a $15 watch, and shunned publicity. He once said: “I had one idea that never changed in my mind—that you should use your wealth to help people”. He inspired other billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to join the Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage wealthy people to donate most of their money to philanthropy. He received many honors and awards for his generosity, such as the Cornell Icon of Industry Award, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from Ireland, and the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy. He died on October 9, 2023 at the age of 92 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Charles Feeney Physical Stats and More
|Height (Aprox.)||in centimeters- 175 cm|
|Weight (Aprox.)||in Kilograms- 70 kg|
|Favorite Colour||Green, white, orange (Irish flag colors)|
|Favorite Actor||Liam Neeson|
|Favorite Actress||Meryl Streep|
|Favorite Movies||Schindler’s List, The Shawshank Redemption|
|Favorite Singers||U2, The Cranberries|
|Favorite Food||Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage|
|Favorite Books||The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein|
|Favorite Wear||Casual and simple|
|Favorite Things to Do||Reading, traveling, golfing|
|Favorite Sports||Golf, rugby|
|Favorite Sports Person||Rory McIlroy, Brian O’Driscoll|
- LifestyleDetailsDoes he smoke?No
- Does he consume alcohol?Yes (moderately)
- Does he drive?NoDoes he know cooking?Maybe
- Does he swim?Maybe
- Is he a practitioner?N/A
- Does he go to the gym?Maybe
- Is he a jogger?Maybe
- Does he travel?Yes
- Does he have pets?No
- Does he play any instruments?N/A
- Does he have any tattoos?No
Social Media Handles
I could not find any social media handles of Charles Feeney, the former billionaire and philanthropist who gave away most of his fortune, on the web.
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