Update: May 9, 2018
Sales from the art collection amassed by David Rockefeller that included masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet broke records as it brought in more than $646 million on the first night of bidding at Christie’s auction house.
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.
Rockefeller, who reportedly gave away nearly $2 billion in his lifetime and currently worth $3 billion, “died peacefully in his sleep” of congestive heart failure at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York, spokesman Fraser Seitel said in a statement.
One of the few remaining links to the U.S. “gilded” era of robber barons, he was the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who developed New York’s Rockefeller Center, 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, Rockefeller forged such a network of close relationships with governments and multinational corporations that observers said the bank had its own foreign policy.
The Rockefeller name came to symbolize unpopular U.S. banking policies in debtor countries, and Rockefeller was scorned on the left for working with Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and the shah of Iran.
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.
David Rockefeller house on the family estate.
Rockefeller was born in Manhattan as the youngest of six siblings. His brother, NelsonRockefeller, served as vice president under U.S. President Gerald Ford after being elected as governor of New York for four terms starting in 1959. David Rockefeller’s nephew, JayRockefeller, was a longtime U.S. senator from West Virginia.
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.Rockefeller collected beetles as a lifelong hobby and also acquired art – a Mark Rothko painting he bought in 1960 for less than $10,000 was auctioned for more than $72 million in May 2007.
His fortune, investments in real estate, share of family trusts and other holdings were estimated at $3.3 billion in March 2017 by Forbes magazine. Seitel said Rockefeller had donated nearly $2 billion in his lifetime to organizations including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Rockefeller University.
He published his autobiography, “Memoirs,” in 2002 and continued going to work every day into his 90s. He also remained a lifelong member of the moderate “Rockefeller Republicans” wing of that party, including his 2006 co-founding of Republicans Who Care, to support the party’s moderates.
Rockefeller’s principal residence was at “Hudson Pines”, on the family estate in Pocantico Hills, New York. He also had a Manhattan residence at East 65th Street, as well as a country residence (known as “Four Winds”) at a farm in Livingston, New York (Columbia County), where his wife raised Simmenthal beef cattle. He also maintained a summer home on Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast. In May 2015, as part of celebrations to mark his 100th birthday, Rockefeller donated one thousand acres of land in Seal Harbor to the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve. The lands to be transferred stretch from the Preserve’s present property on Eliot Mountain, eastward to Barr Hill and the Stanley Brook Road, with the exception of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden and some other properties, which will be made public in the future.
The Kykuit area of the family estate is the location of The Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF)—set up by David and his four brothers in 1940—which was created when the Fund leased the area from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1991. Known as the “Playhouse”, it provides a setting where the Fund and other nonprofit organizations and public sector institutions can bring together people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to engage on critical world issues.