Charlie Munger has taken himself out of billionaire status.
“I'm deliberately taking my net worth down,” the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. told The World-Herald. “If it's not below a billion, it soon will be.”
Actually, his two latest donations, a total of 200 shares of Class A Berkshire stock worth $34.6 million, leave him with 5,674 shares worth about $980 million.
“My thinking is, I'm not immortal,” said Munger, 89, an Omaha native who lives in the Los Angeles area. “And I won't need it where I'm going.”
Munger has donated more than 10,000 shares of Berkshire stock over the past several years. In 2000 he held 15,911 shares, which would be worth about $2.7 billion today. In 2010, about $1 billion of his stock went into a charitable trust following the death of his wife, Nancy.
During a discussion at last spring's annual Berkshire shareholder meeting about whether a certain business deal was significant, Munger quipped, “There's nothing as insignificant as an extra $2 billion to an old man.”
Last month, the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, Calif., received $32.7 million worth of his stock to help fund its new education and visitors center. Munger said the Huntington's goal is to build the best museum store in the world. He has been a supporter for several years and values the library's humanities collection and research.
He also gave $1.9 million of his Berkshire stock to the Marlborough School, a college preparatory school for girls in Los Angeles.
His late wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters attended the school. “Schools are always changing,” Munger said.
The money will help build an athletics and activities center, and an earlier donation helped build the school's Munger Hall, said Betsy Stephenson, director of development.
Other recent recipients of donations include the University of Michigan Law School, Stanford University, Polytechnic School in Pasadena, Calif., the Los Angeles YMCA and the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.
His largest gift, $110 million, is funding a residential-academic community at the University of Michigan for graduate students, including $10 million for fellowships.
The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
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