At 101, how did David Rockefeller die? The cause of death was congestive heart failure. On Monday, he relinquished the title of world’s oldest billionaire.
Rockefeller foundation statement says David Rockefeller’s cause of death at age 101 is congestive heart failure. pic.twitter.com/YB1Eb7ebYu
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) March 20, 2017
David was the youngest of the six children that John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had with his wife Abigail “Abby” Aldrich, both of whom sought to shift the family name away from the legacy of his grandfather, who was often called “oil’s robber barron,” The recently deceased man would often defend his grandfather against this reputation. He was the only one of his siblings to devote his life to business, eventually becoming the CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank.
Even though the Rockefeller name is still associated with mammoth wealth, David himself was far from the richest of the U.S. billionaires when his cause of death was announced. With a fortune of around $3.3 billion, he ranked 581 of the more than 2,000 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes‘ 2017 ranking.
Philanthropy Nearing $1 Billion
While David was, of course, known for his exquisite wealth, most headlines announcing his death refer to him as a philanthropist, some even conspicuously leaving out the word “businessman.” Rockefeller donated to thousands of causes over the course of his lifetime, spreading across several platforms. He donated around $250 million to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) over the course of his life, as well as more than a dozen paintings from his extensive family collection.
While his death will be a cause for mourning for many, it will breathe life into several projects. David set up more than $600 million in donations that would take place after he passed away. The arts, education, and the environment will be some of the biggest recipients, but perhaps his largest target will be global aid. Around $225 million will go into the Rockefeller Brothers Fund intended to bring “access to healthcare, alleviate poverty, create sustainable development, and foster a dialogue between Muslim and Western nations,” reported Inside Philanthropy.
David Rockefeller’s (1915-2017) $900M in lifetime philanthropy is equivalent to donating $24,000 for every day of his life.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) March 20, 2017
More Foreign Contacts Than Kissinger
David Rockefeller was heavily criticized during his life for meeting with authoritarian leaders from other countries, especially those that did not have a friendly relationship with the United States. Those who despised him often said that he “never met a dictator that he didn’t like.”
Perhaps the most storied of these relationships was with the Shah of Iran, who David pushed to be allowed to enter the U.S. for cancer treatment in 1979. According to critics, the subsequent fallout resulted in the Iran hostage crisis, an event that many historians credit for Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan in the election that took place the next year. He also controversially met with Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein.
Speaking about the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he once remarked that he might know more foreign dignitaries than anyone but Kissinger himself.
“Because I started sooner, I think I probably knew more heads of state than anyone else, possibly with the exception of Henry Kissinger, but maybe even including him.”
He also may have been able to contend with Kissinger for influence. He held audiences with nearly every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. His personal Rolodex was rumored to contain more than 150,000 names.
These expansive familial connections came in handy during his time at Chase, when he increased the number of branches around the world seven-fold to a total of 73, reported Bloomberg.
Conspiracy Theory Target
David Rockefeller was one of the faces most often associated with the idea of a New World Order, a conspiracy theory that alleges that the banking industry is attempting to rein in governments around the world to establish a corporate structure to retain control of the globe. He further entangled himself in these accusations with his involvement in Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, secretive meetings among the world’s elites that many see as proof that the world’s billionaires are working to establish dominance around the world.
David was incredulous to charges that his efforts would be the cause of anything negative for humanity, instead saying it was an effort to unify the world. Rockefeller made no secret about being an internationalist, and he even defended himself against the idea that there was something sinister behind this philosophy in his 2002 book Memoirs.
“Some even believe [the Rockefellers] are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I’m proud of it.”
Because of these views, some called him “the father of neoliberalism” as they discussed his death on social media pages today. Many alternative media sites openly celebrated his death, calling it a victory for the people.
— TrutherbotUFO (@TrutherbotUFO) March 20, 2017
David Rockefeller was one of more than 364,000 Americans who will die of coronary heart disease this year. How he died is the leading cause of death overall and kills more people over the age of 75 than the two next causes of death combined, stroke and Alzheimers, according to data published by World Life Expectancy.
[Featured Image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]