Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Wasn’t

In 1960, Chuck Feeney and a business partner set up duty-free shops in airports to sell alcohol, cigarettes, and handbags produced in Japan to American travelers. The DFS Group, which was the holding company for Feeney’s business, earned 300% profit margins from the outset and had extremely high retained profits that gave him tens of millions of dollars in annual profits despite having only a few dozen physical locations in the 1960s and 1970s.

Feeney’s life has been marked by incredibly interesting moments, such as early investments in Facebook, Priceline, and Alibaba following the sale of DFS Group to Louis Vuitton in 1996. During the 1990s, he provided approximately $600 million to a constellation of causes, including funding for paramilitary forces in Northern Ireland to embrace electoral politics, the creation of an antiretroviral treatment for AIDS in Southern Africa, and even grants to create a public health system in Vietnam.

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