The story of a billionaire whose greatest wish was to die poor.



Harlis “Chuck” Finney, 89, and Robert Miller co-founded Duty Free Shoppers in 1960. He has made billions of dollars in wealth over the years despite choosing to lead a modest lifestyle.

Despite selling luxury items to tourists for years, his San Francisco apartment has the austerity of a bedroom, according to a Forbes International reporter who visited a few years ago, and the walls are more decorated with prints of friends and family. decorated like expensive paintings. A philanthropist, he pioneered the concept of making a contribution during life by donating most of his wealth to major charities rather than bequeathing it to a foundation upon death. The concept is based on the idea that it is best to give it your all, determine where the money goes and see the results with your own eyes.


Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation has provided more than $8 billion to charities, endowments and foundations around the world over the past four decades. And he did it under the radar. While many wealthy philanthropists employ a team of journalists to publicize their causes, Finney has worked hard to hide his charitable contributions. As a result, Forbes, an international magazine, called him “the James Bond of philanthropy.”

But now that the billionaire is out of money, he has no regrets, as his charitable contributions have had a huge impact on sectors such as education, health and human rights. The last $350 million was spent creating a campus for Cornell University. After four decades of continued philanthropic efforts, Chuck Feeney and his wife Helga signed the closure of the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation on September 14, 2020.

Other billionaires have been inspired by the “aggressive” philanthropic mentality, most notably Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who founded the Giving Pledge in 2010 to donate at least half of his wealth toward living expenses.

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