» » The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune

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by Conor O'Clery
Download The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune fb2
Professionals & Academics
  • Author:
    Conor O'Clery
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  • Publisher:
    PublicAffairs (September 23, 2008)
  • Pages:
    368 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Professionals & Academics
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    1357 kb
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    1840 kb
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Chuck Feeney was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to a blue-collar Irish-American family during the Depression. After service in the Korean War, he made a fortune as founder of Duty Free Shoppers, the world's largest duty-free retail chain. By 1988, he was hailed by Forbes Magazine as the twenty-fourth richest American alive. But secretly Feeney had already transferred all his wealth to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies. Only in 1997 when he sold his duty free interests, was he “outed” as one of the greatest and most mysterious American philanthropists in modern times. After going “underground” again, he emerged in 2005 to cooperate on a biography promoting giving while living. Now in his mid-seventies, Feeney is determined his foundation should spend down the remaining 4 billion in his lifetime.

Chuck Feeney is a first cousin, my age (83) and he has had great success in business. His book should be read by people who might like to be successful in business. The fact that he became a billionaire and gave his money away secretly, is very interesting. What he has contributed in education, health, and helping with poverty in third class countries is an example for others with wealth.
He did not want his name on buildings or the publicity that goes with large contributions to worthwhile causes. Cornell is his college and he has given generously. Ireland has received much of his attention. He has helped build hospitals, colleges around the country and the world. A very modest, humble man with a sense of humor. The book is a great read.
What a fascinating read. I am so delighted Chuck Feeney allowed us to read his amazing life story.
One of the most uplifting reads.
It really got me thinking about my own life of abundance and how if we all behaved like him with such compassion, energy and selflessness how great the world would be.
If you decide the destiny of your wealth how much further and wiser it is spent - "giving while living" - his mantra!!!
EVERYONE should read this amazing life story.
What a man what a hero he is
This book deserves 10 stars.
The story of Chuck Feeney is both fascinating and inspiring. O'Clery's tells the tale of a scrappy, inventive entrepreneur who does a marvelous amount of good in the world, devoting his life to giving his fortune to high performing philanthropic institutions.

The writing, however, is not on par with the best biographies or business tales. We lack the window into Chuck Feeney's soul that some other biographers are able to bring out of their subjects. We never really understand what makes Chuck tick, which is partly due to Chuck's own lack of introspection--he was never able to articulate to anyone else while giving was so important to him so referred them to articles. The book also seems to lack balance, glossing over Chuck's divorce from his first wife and the angry, depressed outbursts he would have prior to this separation.

The book also offers detailed play-by-play reviews of several of DFS's key transactions and tells the story of several philanthropies that Chuck funded, how he selected them, and how they executed. Particularly the DFS stories remind me of The Barbarians at the Gate or Too Big To Fail, which dramatize business events. Unfortunately, these two analogies are much better written stories than the DFS stories in this book. Even as a professional financial investor I found myself skimming and skipping to avoid the chronological droll that plagues this book.

The book is still worth a read given the amazing story of Chuck Feeney, but it will not be the best book you've ever read.
What a beautiful person chuck Feeney is.

This is the most inspiring book I have read so far. This book was more motivating and inspirational to me than books such as the `Secret' by Rhonda Byrne. Here's a real `existing' role model we can all look up to. He did it, and so can we. He is a living proof that helping others in unselfish ways is possible. He is living proof that that there is good on Earth, and being good is not only possible but feasible.

This is the story of Chuck Feeney, born into a poor family. Not having enough funds to pay for his college education, Feeney joins the Air Force, and is stationed in Japan. There he realizes the profit making potential of duty-free sales. He starts selling duty-free goods to soldiers, such as tobacco and alcohol, and to make the story short, ends up owning duty-free shops across the world. Within a few years he becomes a billionaire. He is ranked as the 23rd richest man in the United States by Forbes magazine.

Feeney was not happy with his billions. He did not like the life of excess lived by the rich. `How many shoes do you need?' he would often ask. He did not like the competition between the rich in owning luxury goods. For example, a yacht is never big enough; someone else will have a bigger one. Someone else will have a bigger mansion.

Feeney was also worried for his children. Kidnapping was prevalent at the time, and Feeney did not want to live his life surrounded by bodyguards and in fear for his family. So one day, he secretly flies to the Bahamas and donates all his profits to his newly established charity organization.

Many find it hard to part from a few dollars. Feeney parted with billions. All the proceeds from Feeney's company went straight to his charity foundation. Unlike Bill Gates (whom I also admire for his philanthropy), Feeney gave away his whole fortune without announcing it. No one ever knew of Feeney's philanthropy, not even his partners. His name is not on any library, University, or building. Feeney gave secretly. He believed that your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing when it comes to charitable donations. Feeney is a man who gives not for selfish reasons such as recognition and fame, but to help make a change in people's lives.

Feeney did not feel guilty about making money, but he felt guilty keeping it. He felt his money should not be for the sole purpose of giving him and his family pleasure, but for giving pleasure to the world.

Feeney also helped solve the IRA (Irish Republican Army) problem together with Bill Clinton, and opposed the war in Iraq. He did not vote for Bush in 2004, and marched against the war of Iraq in the streets of London in 2004. He also felt that the US was unfair to Vietnam, and flew several times to Vietnam offering anonymous help.

Chuck Feeney is a great man, and his story should be an inspiration to all of us. This book should be read by everyone, and should be required reading in schools and universities. If one man can make such a difference, how much can we all do together? For one thing, we would end world hunger and poverty!

This book made me realize that ending world poverty is not such a farfetched dream: all it takes is a humble heart, like the one Chuck Feeney has!

Money can be the root of all evil. Money does corrupt, and in excess corrupts absolutely. But money can also end all of the world's suffering. It is a two edged sword. One edge will bleed the world to death; the other edge will bring an end to suffering.

I have chosen how I want to hold my sword. Have you?