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10/08/2014 12:48 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2014

You've Probably Never Heard Of The Billionaire Philanthropist Quietly Transforming Charity

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

Some people are into extreme sports, others extreme eating. You could call self-made billionaire Chuck Feeney an extreme philanthropist.

Feeney, the 83-year-old co-founder of the pioneering retail business Duty Free Shoppers (the company that sells the tax-free alcohol and perfume in airports), is practically unknown as a public figure. Though Forbes once ranked him the 23rd-richest person alive, you wouldn’t realize it if you met him on the street: In his prime, he famously wore a $15 watch and flew economy. You certainly won’t find his name on any buildings. Yet his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, will soon become the largest ever foundation to purposefully give away all its money--seeded by almost Feeney’s entire fortune, which was worth about $4 billion when he donated it anonymously three decades ago--and then go about shutting its doors.

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