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

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

by Conor O'Clery


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The astonishing life of the modest New Jersey businessman who anonymously gave away 10 billion dollars and inspired the "giving while living" movement.

In this bestselling book, Conor O'Clery reveals the inspiring life story of Chuck Feeney, known as the "James Bond of philanthropy." 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, who had anonymously funded hospitals and universities from San Francisco to Limerick to New York to Brisbane. His example convinced Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to give away their fortunes during their lifetime, known as the giving pledge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610393348
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 08/27/2013
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 263,692
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Conor O'Clery is an award-winning journalist and author who served as foreign correspondent for The Irish Times in London, Moscow, Beijing, Washington, and New York. He has written books on Russian, Irish, and American politics. He now lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Table of Contents

Author's Note and Acknowledgments ix Prologue xiii Part 1 Making It 1
1 The Umbrella Boy 3
2 The Sandwich Man 10
3 Banging the Ring 16
4 Cockamamy Flyers 23
5 Riding the Tiger 30
6 The Perfect Storm 42
7 The Sandwich Islands 55
8 Hong Kong Crocodiles 67
9 Surrounding Japan 77 Part 2 Going Underground 85
10 How Much Is Rich? 87
11 Boremuda 97
12 Four Guys in a Room 107
13 Rich Man, Poor Man 115
14 Don't Ask, Don't Tell 125
15 The Luck of the Irish 133
16 Leaving Money on the Table 143
17 Rich, Ruthless, and Determined 150
18 The Wise Man Cometh 160
19 Stepping Down 168
20 Show Me the Building 175
21 Four Guys in a Coffee Shop 184 Part 3 Breaking Up 195
22 The French Connection 197
23 Musical Chairs 207
24 Cutting the Baby in Half 213
25 Erreur Strategique 222 Part 4 Giving It Away 231
26 "A Great Op." 233
27 Golden Heart 244
28 Bowerbird 256
29 A Nation Transformed 267
30 Charity Begins at Home 286
31 Geographical Creep 293
32 The Old Turks 300
33 No Pockets in a Shroud 309
34 Not a Moment to Lose 320 Epilogue 330 Index 334

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Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of Chuck Feeney, how he made his millions and gave most of it away. It's interesting but it does show how a lot of rich people avoid the taxes the poorer have to face. I was torn between admiring him and wanting a chunk of his capital.
lalalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I say it was OK only b/c I think the subject is interesting. The author can't write and the editors didn't do their job. I muddled through this for about three weeks and now I'm giving up. I wish someone else had written this book!!
Peterabun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting story. I know the subject somewhat as I worked for his company for about four years. This is a really good story, poorly told. It gets pretty boring in spots. Chuck Feeney is a very unique individual. We need many more like him in the business world, instead of the Nardelli's and that ilk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scottc624 More than 1 year ago
The story would have been amazing if it had been fiction. The fact that an anonymous donor was living in our recent past and gave $4,000,000,000 during his lifetime is incredible. The author had to include many facts in his writing and when I read of Kennedy's assasination in 1964 I realized that perhaps not all the facts were carefully checked. However, if he got most of the facts right, the book was a success. A quick read which kept me very engaged.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The world needs more people like this and the media should put people in the spotlight who do wonderful things for the underprivelged. I wish they would use the same hype for people who help the poor like they do celebreties. The world just might be a better place.