Hedge Fund, Private Equity Billionaires Pledge To Give Most Of Their Fortunes Away

Aug 5 2010 | 12:52pm ET

A handful of alternative investments billionaires are among the 40 joining Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in agreeing to give at least half of their fortunes to charity.

The 40 individuals or families have joined the Giving Pledge, a movement launched by Gates and Buffett earlier this year to get the wealthiest Americans to commit to giving more than half their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes.

Business people “are pretty widely mistrusted and seen as overwhelmingly self-interested,” Farallon Capital Management chief Thomas Steyer, who made the pledge with his wife, Kat Taylor, said. “The point is that business people are not just laboring for themselves. They have bigger responsibilities and belong to a wider community.”

Seven other alternatives moguls have also made the pledge: Centaurus Energy’s John Arnold, Blackstone Group co-founder Peter Peterson, BP Capital’s T. Boone Pickens, Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson, the Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons, and Shelby White, the widow of hedge fund pioneer Leon Levy.

Also making the pledge are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, David Rockefeller, and Star Wars creator George Lucas.

“As I watched and learned from my father’s example, I noticed how much pleasure his giving to others gave him,” Peterson said. “Indeed, today, I get much more pleasure giving money to what I consider worthwhile causes than making the money in the first place.”

“We view our wealth in this light—not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to effect positive and transformative change,” John Arnold and his wife, Laura, added.

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