NEW YORK – Billionaire financier David Rockefeller, a bountiful philanthropist and grandson of the founder of the wealthy Rockefeller dynasty, died on Monday, his family announced. He was 101.
Rockefeller family spokesman Fraser Seitel confirmed to media outlets that the century-old scion of the family died in his sleep at home in Pocantico Hills, New York.
The well-known banker was chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, and founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973 to improve international relations, an NGO considered one of the world’s most influential institutions.
Born in New York on June 12, 1915, David Rockefeller was the last surviving member of his generation of that icon of capitalism, the Rockefeller family.
His grandfather, John Rockefeller, was America’s first billionaire and is still considered one of the richest men of all time.
Just hours before David Rockefeller’s death, Forbes magazine listed his fortune at $3.3 billion.
Having studied at Harvard and the London School of Economics, and with a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences from the University of Chicago, Rockefeller enlisted in the army in 1942, and during World War II he served as an intelligence officer in North Africa and assistant military attache at the US Embassy in Paris, where he was promoted to captain in 1945.
The following year he went to work as assistant manager of the foreign department of Chase Manhattan Bank, one of New York’s largest financial institutions, and in 1955 was named executive vice president. He became its president in 1961.
From 1969 to 1980 he was chairman and CEO, and in 1981 at age 65 he stepped down from his position at the bank after taking on the project of its international expansion.
As a philanthropist, David Rockefeller was known as a patron of the arts and for financing such New York landmarks as Rockefeller Center, the New York Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller University and the construction of the World Trade Center.
He also put together one of the most important art collections in the world, with works by Picasso, Cezanne and Matisse.
In spite of his age, he continued to lead an active life during his final years and never stopped traveling and making public appearances.