“Robert W. Wilson, the hedge fund founder who committed suicide at age 87 over the weekend, was known as one of the most active philanthropists in the country. But his style of giving was radically opposed to that of Bill Gates, who asked Wilson to join his Giving Pledge for the ultra-rich — and was rebuffed in a series of caustic emails,” Rosie Gray reports for Buzzfeed. “In emails from 2010 provided to BuzzFeed by a source close to Wilson, the hedge fund manager tells Gates that the pledge is essentially ‘worthless’ and that he wants to ‘stay far away’ from his effort.”
Some snippets from Wilson’s email responses to Gates:
• Mr. Gates, I decided more than ten years ago to try to give away 70% of my net worth and have already given away one-half billion dollars. (I’ve never been a Forbes 400) So I really don’t have to take the pledge.
• Your ‘Giving Pledge’ has a loophole that renders it practically worthless, namely permitting pledgees to simply name charities in their wills. I have found that most billionaires or near billionaires hate giving large sums of money away while alive and instead set up family-controlled foundations to do it for them after death. And these foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards. These rich are delighted to toss off a few million a year in order to remain socially acceptable. But that’s it.
• I’m going to stay far away from your effort. But thanks for thinking of me.
• Mr. Gates, thanks much for your email. But as my previous email indicated, I wouldn’t have much fun or add much value to this group. You, being a liberal, think you can change people more than I think.
• When rich people reach 50 and are beginning to slow down is the time to begin engaging them in philanthropy. I’d greatly appreciate just leaving it at that.
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like Wilson wanted his money to actually accomplish things, beyond helping to finance Monsanto and buy up media companies, that is.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Lynn Weiler” and “Tony W.” for the heads up.]
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invests in Monsanto – August 26, 2010
Report: Gates Foundation causing harm with same money it supposedly uses to do good – January 10, 2007
Bill Gates’ ‘charity’ foundation finances U.S. newspaper purchases – August 21, 2006