Nearly five years ago, Irish-American billionaire Charles F “Chuck” Feeney promised that by the end of 2016, he was going to hand out the last his fortune.
It was a race: Feeney was then 81, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of private foundations he had started and funded, still had about US$1.5 billion left.
Flinging money out the window or writing checks willy-nilly was not Feeney’s way.
But in December, Feeney and Atlantic completed the sprint and made a final grant, US$7 million to Cornell University, to support students doing community service work.
His name does not appear in gilded letters, chiselled marble or other forms of writing anywhere on the 1,000 buildings across five continents that US$2.7 billion of his money paid for. For years, Atlantic’s support came with a requirement that the beneficiaries not publicise its involvement.