The New Jersey Guy Who Owned The Airport Duty Free Shops Gave Away His Fortune
You don’t know who Chuck Feeney was, but if you were in an airport you saw what he did for a living. Chuck made billions as the co-founder of the company that started the duty free shops at the airport. Well, Mr. Feeney passed away the other day at the age of 92. As it turns out, he was quite the philanthropist. Chuck Feeney gave away all his money.
That’s right, the guy who started the duty free shop gave away his fortune. Mr. Sweeney grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
We’re talking Eight BILLION dollars, given away to charities, foundations, museums, and other charitable organizations. Mr. Feeney was very rich and successful but he lived the last 30 years of his life on a strict budget after he gave away nearly his entire fortune.
He was a big fan of “giving while living,” and launched a charity in 1982 called Atlantic Philanthropies. They finally shut down three years ago after announcing they’d successfully donated it all. That’s why he needed to be on a strict budget.
Many of the donations were done anonymously. Wow, what a well lived life. You become a billionaire and you’re the guy who gave away all his money.
What Is Duty Free?
The whole idea of duty free shopping is based on the idea that when you enter the international area of an airport, you’re in a odd, uncontrolled space when it comes to whose tax laws govern the area. Is it the country in which your airport is? OR the country to which you are flying? Charles and his partner apparently recognized this as an opportunity and the famous “Duty Free” shops began popping up in the international sections of just about every international airport. (It also launched a fun Seinfeld bit.)
“Duty” refers to tax. Specifically, the word refers to the tax you would pay on an item when you bring it across international borders. That means that, “duty free” means you’re not paying tax on the purchase. However, you still may have to pay tax on the item when you get it back to the United States. Typically, the best deals for duty free purchases are on booze and tobacco products because the taxes on those items tend to be the highest.
If you do it right, you can make a pretty good score at the Duty Free shop and maybe you can turn into the guy who gave away all his money when you turn it into a small fortune.