David Rockefeller, billionaire banker and philanthropist, dies at 101


David Rockefeller, billionaire banker and philanthropist, dies at 101
  1. David Rockefeller, billionaire banker and philanthropist, dies at 101
    theage.com.au
    Rockefeller, who reportedly gave away nearly $US2 billion in his lifetime, "died peacefully in his sleep" of congestive heart failure at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York, spokesman Fraser Seitel said in a…
    Health

New York: Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller, former head of Chase Manhattan Corp and patriarch of one of the most famous and influential American families, died on Monday, a family spokesman said. He was 101.

Mr Rockefeller, who reportedly gave away nearly $US2 billion (around $2.5 billion) in his lifetime, "died peacefully in his sleep" of congestive heart failure at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York, spokesman Fraser Seitel said in a statement.

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David Rockefeller, pictured in 1981. David Rockefeller, pictured in 1981.  Photo: AP

One of the few remaining links to the US "gilded" era of robber barons, he was the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who developed New York's Rockefeller Centre, and was the last living grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil and the family dynasty. He also embodied an era when globe-trotting bank chiefs worked with the world's most powerful politicians.

During his time as head of Chase from 1969 to 1981, Mr Rockefeller forged such a network of close relationships with governments and multinational corporations that observers said the bank had its own foreign policy.

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Rockefeller, second left, assists in slicing up a culinary replica of the Rockefeller Centre in New York on the ... Rockefeller, second left, assists in slicing up a culinary replica of the Rockefeller Centre in New York on the building's 50th birthday in 1982. Photo: AP

The Rockefeller name came to symbolise unpopular US banking policies in debtor countries, and Mr Rockefeller was scorned on the left for working with Chile's Augusto Pinochet and the shah of Iran.

He also was viewed with anger on the right for pushing to open trade with China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Trilateral Commission, a group Mr Rockefeller founded in 1973 to foster relations between North America, Japan and Western Europe, came to be a regular target of the far-right and conspiracy theorists who said it was trying to create a one-world government.

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Mr Rockefeller became embroiled in an international incident when in 1979 he and long-time friend Henry Kissinger helped persuade President Jimmy Carter to admit the shah of Iran to the United States for treatment of lymphoma, helping precipitate the Iran hostage crisis.

Mr Rockefeller was born in Manhattan as the youngest of six siblings. His brother, Nelson Rockefeller, served as vice president under US President Gerald Ford after being elected as governor of New York for four terms starting in 1959. David Rockefeller's nephew, Jay Rockefeller, was a longtime US senator from West Virginia.

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Rockefeller shakes hands with President Ronald Reagan at the State Department in 1981. Rockefeller shakes hands with President Ronald Reagan at the State Department in 1981. Photo: AP

David Rockefeller spent his childhood in New York City and at the family's estates, and recalled meeting such luminaries as Charles Lindbergh, Admiral Richard Byrd and Sigmund Freud.

His ties to the internationally famous continued throughout his adulthood, symbolised by his famed 100,000-card Rolodex, housed in its own room next to his office in Manhattan's Rockefeller Centre.

The site of the nine-story mansion where he was born, then New York's largest residence, is now part of the Museum of Modern Art, which his mother, Abby, helped found in 1929.

Mr Rockefeller collected beetles as a lifelong hobby and also acquired art - a Mark Rothko painting he bought in 1960 for less than $US10,000 was auctioned for more than $US72 million in May 2007.

His fortune, inv…

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