David Rockefeller, a former head of Chase Manhattan bank and luminary in political and philanthropic circles, died Monday at the age of 101, a spokesman said.
He died in his sleep due to congestive heart failure at his home in Pocantico Hills, just north of New York City, spokesman Fraser Seitel said.
The last living grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, he led Chase Manhattan, now part of JPMorgan Chase, in the 1960s and 1970s. Forbes magazine ranked Rockefeller 581st on its annual list of billionaires released Monday with a fortune of $3.3 billion.
His accomplishments in finance included opening the first Moscow offices of an American bank and the first in mainland China after President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit there. He also oversaw the growth of Chase Manhattan’s operations in the Middle East, Latin America and Japan, Seitel said.He also embodied an era when globe-trotting bank chiefs worked with the world’s most powerful politicians.
Rockefeller was also well known in political circles in the United States and overseas, where he encountered heads of states from close to 100 countries and was known as an outspoken champion of American capitalism.
He famously helped persuade then-President Jimmy Carter to allow the shah of Iran into the United States for cancer treatment in 1979. The move was widely seen as spurring the Iranian revolution led by the fundamentalist Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Among his most important civic roles, Rockefeller served as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and executive committee chair of the Museum of Modern Art, which his mother founded.
The Rockefeller Foundation mourned “the loss of great man and philanthropist,” president Rajiv Shah said in a statement.
“David was one of the world’s foremost advocates for the power of partnership and collaboration,” he said.
“Long before it became popular wisdom, he believed effective partnerships across sectors and geographies was the only way to affect lasting change.”
Rockefeller’s grandfather was one of the original American “robber baron” tycoons of the 19th and early 20th centuries, employing brass-knuckles business tactics to build his oil empire before the US Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that his Standard Oil company should be broken up.
Today’s oil giants, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, are descendants of Standard Oil.
However, Rockefeller family philanthropic organizations have strongly supported action on climate change policy, sparring with ExxonMobil and providing financing to research and journalism groups that accused the oil giant of knowingly supporting propaganda questioning the science of climate change.