A billionaire who wanted to give away his entire fortune is officially broke

A billionaire who wanted to give away his entire fortune before he died is officially broke, and he couldn’t be happier.

CHARLES ‘Chuck’ Fenney, 89, Is the co-founder of the airport retailer Duty Free Shoppers, having set up the franchise with Robert Miller 60 years ago.

Once he had achieved incredible success and an unimaginable bank balance, the philanthropist pioneered the idea of Giving While Living—spending most of your fortune on big, hands-on charity bets instead of funding a foundation upon death.

Basically, he set himself the goal of giving away all of his money before he died so that he could could control where it went and see the results for himself.

And the businessman could not be happier now that he has managed to donate almost $9 billion (€7.7 bn) worldwide.

“We learned a lot. We would do some things differently, but I am very satisfied. I feel very good about completing this on my watch,” Feeney told Forbes. “My thanks to all who joined us on this journey. And to those wondering about Giving While Living: Try it, you’ll like it.”

Through his private foundation the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Irish-American, gave $570 million (£485m) of the total fortune to causes in Northern Ireland over the last 40 years.

President of the Atlantic Philanthropies, Christopher Oechsli, said it was “an honour” to support so many projects in Northern Ireland.

He added that “it’s heartening to see the progress made and the way groups Atlantic supported continue to drive change in these challenging times”, pointing out “that’s the legacy.”

Biographer Conor O’Clery, said Feeney is “very happy” that he has now completed his four-decade mission and celebrated the milestone with wife Helga.

The man who made an incredible fortune selling luxury goods to tourists, and later launched private equity powerhouse General Atlantic, now lives in a modest apartment in San Francisco.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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