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Saturday 23 August 2014

Tycoon gave $800m fortune away before suicide

Jenn Selby

Published 28/12/2013 | 02:30

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Robert W Wilson
Robert W Wilson

A renowned Wall Street tycoon gave away his entire $800m (€581m) fortune before jumping to his death this week.

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Hedge fund multi-millionaire Robert W Wilson (87) leapt from the 16th floor of his luxury San Remo apartment building, a prestigious address in New York's Upper East Side which in the past has been the residence of Steven Spielberg, Demi Moore, Glenn Close, Dustin Hoffman, Bono, Steve Martin, Bruce Willis and Steve Jobs.

According to police, he left a note at the scene. He had suffered from a stroke just a few months before. "He always said he didn't want to suffer and when the time came, he would be ready," close friend Stephen Viscusi told the 'New York Post'.

"His plan was to give all his money away. He told me recently, 'I only have about $100m to go'."

He has since been praised as a "legend" by his peers, after pledging his entire worth to charity some years before he ended his life.

He gave the last $100m (€73m) of his money to not-for-profit environmental advocacy group the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF).

Fred Krupp, the president of the EDF, said of the group's biggest benefactor: "Robert W Wilson was a Wall Street legend who became a prominent philanthropist.

"Bob had a passion to get things done in the world. Widely read and blessed with a keen intellect, he had the ability to predict where the world was going, a talent that informed his investments and, in later years, his philanthropy."

Mr Krupp went on to indicate that Mr Wilson was building up a hugely lucrative Wall Street portfolio "with the aim of bestowing his fortune during his lifetime".

'CHALLENGE'

"Initially skeptical of the science of climate change, he quickly came to regard it as a critical challenge. He wanted carbon pollution cut in an efficient and sensible way, knowing that for a solution to be environmentally sustainable, it must also be economically sustainable.

"Bob helped EDF grow with a pivotal $100m challenge grant that inspired scores of others to increase their own giving," Mr Krupp continued. "I am personally grateful to Bob for his leadership and support."

Other beneficiaries of Mr Wilson's money include the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society, each of which received $100m before Mr Wilson died.

Mr Wilson was married to his only wife Marilyn for 35 years before they divorced. He is survived by his brother William (88). He had no children. (© Independent News Service)

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