Billionaire from New Jersey Giving Away Entire Fortune: Plans To Die Broke.

Ash Jurberg
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To kick off 2023, I have been writing about people and organizations giving back to the community.

Readers enjoy seeing uplifting, positive stories. So today, I wanted to write about a man in New Jersey and the good he has done for the community.

His name is Chuck Feeney, and he has given away so much money that he has gone from being a billionaire to living a very modest lifestyle.

The New Jersey man who gave away his billion-dollar fortune

Charles Feeney was born in New Jersey, during the Great Depression, in 1931 and grew up in a modest household.

In the 1950s, Feeney and his college classmate Robert Miller began selling duty-free liquor to American service members in Asia. Next, they expanded to tobacco and other products, and by 1960 they founded the Duty-Free Shoppers Group (DFS).

The business has grown and has over 5,000 employees, operating in 14 countries worldwide. Over 160 million travelers visit the DFS stores each year.

Feeney made a billion-dollar fortune from DFS. And has given almost all of it away.


In 1982, Feeney established The Atlantic Philanthropies to "devote his wealth to the service of humanity. A champion of Giving While Living, Feeney has long maintained that people of wealth should use it to better the world during their lifetimes."

Since then, the former billionaire has given away virtually all of his fortune.

Forbes estimated Feeney had given away over $8 billion over his lifetime, living up to his promise of dying broke.

This includes the following donations:

  • $3.7 billion toward education
  • $870 million to social campaigns and human rights
  • $62 million in grants to end the death penalty
  • $76 million to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • $350 million to build a technology campus at his alma mater, Cornell University  
Chuck has set an example. It’s a real honor to talk about a fellow who is my hero and Bill Gates’ hero. He should be everybody’s hero.” Warren Buffett

Feeney has been so generous he has been called the "James Bond of philanthropy."

Despite his former billion-dollar fortune, he lives a frugal life.

Feeney is known for his frugality. Until he was 75, he traveled only in coach and carried reading materials in a plastic bag. He does not own a car or a house and wears a $10 Casio watch.

Your thoughts

What do you think of the generosity of Chuck Feeney? What organizations in New Jersey would you like to see Chuck Feeney support?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and share this article with others so they can join the conversation.

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