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.
Mr. Feeney is currently in the news for donating $350 million to build a science school in New York City.