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Duty Free Co-Founder And Ex-Billionaire Chuck Feeney Says He’s Officially Succeeded In Getting Rid Of All His Money



Many billionaires claim to be interested in passing away in poverty. But occasionally it seems that even the wealthiest billionaires who have a strong altruistic streak just keep getting richer and richer despite themselves. The man who is credited with inspiring Bill Gates’ own philosophy of philanthropy claims that he is the exception and that after decades and billions of dollars worth of giving, he has finally succeeded in emptying out his coffers. Chuck Feeney became a billionaire by co-founding the Duty Free Shoppers airport retail chain in the 1960s.

JIMIN LAI/AFP via Getty Images

AFP/JIMIN LAI via Getty Pictures

“I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes. In addition, giving while you’re alive is much more enjoyable than giving after you pass away.”


Even when he was still wealthy, Feeney avoided the typical trappings of the billionaire lifestyle. Today, his life is limited to a single modest apartment in San Francisco, along with the satisfaction of watching his life’s work succeed.

The organizations that benefited from Feeney’s donations over the years are too numerous to list here, but in broad strokes, some of his biggest areas of focus included $3.7 billion for educational causes, $870 million for various social campaigns, including grants totaling $62 million for the US death penalty abolition movement, and more than $700 million for healthcare initiatives and projects globally.