David Rockefeller’s Legacy
David Rockefeller, who founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund with brothers John 3rd, Nelson, Laurance, and Winthrop in 1940, passed away on March 20, 2017. David served as a trustee of the Fund for 40 years and, in his 2002 Memoirs, called it “the most significant joint philanthropic endeavor” of the brothers’ generation. In 1980, he became chairman of the Fund—the last of the founding brothers to lead the organization—and remained as life trustee from his retirement in 1987 until his death at age 101. More than a decade earlier, the lifelong philanthropist had pledged to auction his collection of art, antiquities, furniture, and other personal items after his death and to distribute the proceeds to charitable organizations including the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and others. David made his largest gift, $250 million, to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This generous bequest raised the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s total endowment from approximately $960 million to over $1.2 billion.