All About Estates

You can’t wear two pairs of shoes at a time

This Blog was written by: Robert Boyd

To anyone who may have a pang of guilt when approaching the counter at an airport duty free with a bottle under each arm, there was no need, you were indirectly contributing to global education and medical research.

Chuck Feeney grew up in very modest circumstances in New Jersey in the 1930’s and went on to pioneer the concept of duty free. As well as laying the foundations of duty free as we know it, Mr. Feeney’s paved the way for the concept of “giving while living”. Mr. Feeney became a billionaire from his endeavors and has since given away his entire fortune of over 8 billion in total, and in turn encouraged other billionaires to follow suit in what has become a trend of the super wealthy. The most endearing characteristic of his story is that until he was forced into the public sphere, he was making all of his donations in total secrecy and had assigned the majority of his business interests over to Atlantic Philanthropies, a company he had created to facilitate his giving. He was essentially giving away too much money to stay under the radar. Atlantic Philanthropies gave its last donation in 2016 and will close its doors in 2020. Aging, health, children & youth and education have been the main focuses of his giving.

The compliments that he has been given speak for themselves and somewhat ironically, had never pursued:

Warren Buffet – “he’s my hero and Bill Gates’ hero. He should be everybody’s hero.”

Bill Gates – “He is the ultimate example of giving while living”

When asked about his giving philosophy Mr. Feeney often gave humorous yet insightful quips such as “It beats giving while dead” & “there are no pockets in a shroud” and perhaps the most pragmatic “You can’t wear two pairs of shoes at a time”.

At the core of his being is a very practical way of looking at how he could make the world a better place for others. “I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes today”.

Now in his mid-eighties, he lives in San Francisco in a rented apartment with a net worth of $2 million dollars.

About Paul Fensom
Scotiatrust offers a full range of estate, trust and philanthropic advisory services designed to meet a client’s personal objectives and designed to evolve across a variety of life stages and financial events. Email:

1 Comment

  1. Barbara Grossman

    April 6, 2017 - 9:09 pm

    Hi Paul and guest blogger Robert. I had never previously heard of Chuck Feeney but I enjoyed learning about him in your blog post . Mr. Feeney nailed it ! Thanks for sharing him and his giving while living philosophy.

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