Robert Wilson, one of Wall Street’s legends, has committed suicide by pitching himself out of his 16th floor apartment window. But not before giving away a personal fortune of 800 million dollars.
Wilson, 87, was a Republican, but ashamed to admit it, according to an interview with Upstart in 2006. In the interview Wilson said it was his life goal to give away at least 70% of his personal fortune before his death. He recently suffered a stroke, and friends said he did not wish to languish in agony.
Wilson felt that philanthropy was a necessary part of being rich, and so was earning money. “There is all this talk about philanthropy that ignores the effort needed to make the money in order to give it away.” Wilson said that the rich should make more of an effort to give money to charities, saying, “That said, I don’t think most people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are giving away nearly as much as they should.”
Wilson said the rich are thoughtless in their philanthropy, and specifically addressed the now-third richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, stating,
[box type=”shadow”]What a lot of rich people do is dump it on their colleges. They give Harvard another desperately needed $100 million for its endowment. They do it because it’s easy, and it’s uncontroversial. I don’t think a lot of intellectual energy goes into giving by most Wall Street moneymakers. Warren Buffett is the perfect example of that. He never gave any of it away, and then he shoveled half of it into Bill Gates’ lap to let Gates worry about it. He is typical in that respect—but only in that respect.[/box]
Some of the charities benefiting from Wilson’s exiting grace are the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.