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Getting to Know Charles F. Feeney, the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’

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Charles Feeney, the James Bond of Philanthropy
Publicity –shy billionaire Chuck Feeney, sitting for an interview in his daughter’s New York City apartment on September 25, 2007 (Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Back in 2012, The New York Times ran a story about a billionaire philanthropist, Charles F. Feeney, who wanted to give away the rest of his fortune—$1.5 billion, to be exact—by 2016. This on the top of the previous $6 billion he already gifted through Atlantic Philanthropies, his network of private foundations.

Now, Feeney’s made good on his promise.

This past December, he gave away his last $7 million to Cornell University. Besides higher ed, Feeney’s provided funding for public health, human rights, and scientific research. (If you’re wondering, he’s not going to be forced out on the streets, though; his net worth is still $2 million.)

Feeney, now 85, has lived quite the charmed (but frugal) life—and it was the secrecy with which he started giving away his fortune in ’82 that led Forbes to give him the moniker, the “James Bond of Philanthropy.”

“When you’ve got the money, you spend it….When you’ve spent it all, let someone else get going and spend theirs,” the reclusive do-gooder told the Times in 2012.

For more on Feeney’s philanthropic work, click here. Get to know the man in person in the video below.

—RealClearLife Staff