Hedge Fund Founder Wilson Dies At 87

Jan 2 2014 | 10:14am ET

Hedge fund pioneer Robert Wilson, who has spent the 28 years since his retirement giving away his fortune, died on Dec. 23. He was 87.

Wilson leapt from his 16th-floor apartment and was found in an interior courtyard of the San Remo, the prestigious building that he called home. The suicide comes six months after Wilson suffered a stroke.

Wilson left a suicide note, his executor, Richard Schneidman, told The New York Times.

“The gist of it was that he had had a great life, and done all the things he wanted to, and that they way he chose to die was nothing to be ashamed of and shouldn’t be kept secret.” He ended his final missive with “a list of appointments that would have to canceled,” Schneidman said.

Wilson founded short-selling specialist Wilson & Associates in 1969 and retired in 1986. He spent his remaining years giving away his fortune, which peaked at about $800 million, donating about $600 million to a variety of causes, including environmental and historic preservation groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. But he was perhaps best-known for his $30 million in donations to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s schools, in spite of the fact that he was an openly-gay atheist.

Wilson was also well-known for his frugality, choosing the subway over cabs. “One of the dumbest things you can do with money is spend it,” he told Forbes magazine in 1979.


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