Entrepreneurs

Jeff Bezos launched a $2B charitable fund — here's how he spends the rest of his billions

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, is developing the New Glenn rocket to compete with SpaceX.
Photo courtesy Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, is developing the New Glenn rocket to compete with SpaceX.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos launched a new $2 billion philanthropic effort called the "Day One Fund" on Thursday. In a statement the billionaire posted to Twitter, Bezos said the money will be split between efforts aimed at helping homeless families and creating a new non-profit preschools in low-income communities.

Bezos is the richest person in the world, with a current net worth of $163.9 billion, according to Forbes.

More than 90 percent of the billionaire's wealth is tied up in Amazon stock, since he owns about 80 million shares. The rest is in cash or comes from proceeds from investments, salary and bonuses, according to research firm Wealth-X.

With Amazon's stock up by nearly 70 percent in 2018, Bezos' personal wealth has skyrocketed (he was worth roughly $90 billion as of July 2017). As his net worth continues to soar, Bezos had faced calls from his critics to donate more of his fortune to charities and other philanthropic efforts.

So how does the world's wealthiest man spend his money?

Real estate

Bezos has homes across the U.S.

His home base, a lake house in Medina, Wash., is estimated to be worth $25 million, according to Wealth-X. Neighbors include the No. 2 richest guy in the world, Bill Gates.

In Washington D.C., Bezos owns a 27,000-square-foot home that, with a purchase price of $23 million, according to the Washington Post, is the most expensive house in his fancy Kalorama neighborhood. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama bought the second-most expensive house in the enclave last year, and Ivanka Trump is also a neighbor.

The old Textile Museum which was recently purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is photographed in the Kalorama neighborhood of Northwest on January 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Ricky Carioti | The Washington Post | Getty Images
The old Textile Museum which was recently purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is photographed in the Kalorama neighborhood of Northwest on January 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Bezos's mansion was formerly a museum. In April, it was reported that Bezos is undertaking a $12 million renovation of the Washington D.C. mansion, including adding a whiskey cellar and a marble staircase.

The Amazon founder also owns a 2.03-acre property in Beverly Hills, Calif., worth about $25 million. And in Manhattan, Bezos' three linked apartments in The Century building on Central Park West are worth at least $17 million, according to Wealth-X.

The space race

Justin Solomon / CNBC

Elon Musk's SpaceX and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic are famous for their otherworldly missions. But space travel is a passion for Jeff Bezos too. He founded aerospace company Blue Origin to make space tourism more affordable.

Bezos calls the venture "the most important work that I'm doing" and he isn't afraid to spend his money to keep it funded. "Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune," he said in April. "I am currently liquidating about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. And I plan to continue to do that for a long time."

Blue Origin reportedly plans to start selling tickets for test space flights by next year, with passengers likely to pay at least $200,000 per ticket.

For his love of space, Bezos also financed the recovery of "the remains of several Apollo booster-rocket engines from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean 14,000 feet down," starting in 2013, according to the Seattle Times. NASA donated a restored F-1 booster to the Museum of Flight in Seattle in 2015 at the CEO's request.

Expensive toys

Bezos is famous for having his wife drive him to work in a 1996 Honda Accord long after he became a multimillionaire. But he does have some more expensive vehicles.

Gulfstream G-650ER jet.
Source: Gulfstream
Gulfstream G-650ER jet.

For example, he owns a top-of-the-line, $65 million private jet, the 2015 Gulfstream G-650ER, via his holding company, Poplar Glen, says Wealth-X. The model is the "longest range business jet and has a top speed of Mach .925, according to the Robb Report.

Inside a mountain on Bezos's property in Texas, workers are constructing one of several 10,000-year clocks. The clock, which is meant to run for 10,000 years, is the brainchild of The Long Now foundation, and Bezos has invested a reported $42 million into the project.

Investments

The CEO has helped bankroll some big names.

Bezos Expeditions has invested in businesses including Basecamp, Juno Therapeutics, Workday and Twitter. The estimated value of Bezos' stake in Bezos Expeditions is at least $880 million, according to Wealth-X.

Bezos himself has invested in the likes of Airbnb, Uber and Google, among many others, reports Business Insider (in which Bezos has also invested). And the CEO also has Nash Holdings, LLC, through which The Washington Post was acquired for a reported $250 million.

Travels

In 2017, Bezos was spotted vacationing in Rome, Italy, with his wife MacKenzie, his parents and his siblings and their spouses. And, this past April, Bezos posted a video on Twitter of himself on vacation in Norway, where he went dog-sledding above the Arctic Circle. (Not everyone enjoyed the glimpse into Bezos' private life, though, as the video of his exotic vacation was bashed by some of the same critics who argue that Amazon does not pay all of its workers fair wages.)

Philanthropy

Before the $2 billion fund and compared to fellow billionaires like Gates and Warren Buffett, Bezos' charitable contributions have been relatively limited. In March 2017, Bezos gave $35 million to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, reports The New York Times. And, Bezos also gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press last year.

According to Weath-X, in 2015 the Bezos Family Foundation had more than $54 million in assets. In 2017, the foundation pledged to donate $25 million to the New York University Langone Hospital — Brooklyn. Other recipients of the foundation's money include Teach for America, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, the Long Now Foundation, Aspen University and Woodland Park Zoological Society.

Bezos also donated $2.7 to the University of Washington Foundation (2013), $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage (2012) and $15 million to Princeton University, his alma mater, according to Wealth-X.

In January, Bezos also donated $33 million for college scholarships for "dreamers" — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and granted stay in the country under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. And, in September, he gave $10 million to a nonpartisan super PAC that works to elect military veterans to office.

It would appear that Bezos' latest, and most significant philanthropic effort, is the culmination of a request he made in 2017, when he posted a tweet asking for ideas for areas of focus for his future charitable spending. In June, Bezos followed up on that request with another tweet announcing that he'd identified two areas of focus, and that he would reveal them before the end of the summer. Now, it seems like he's settled on using part of his fortune to help homeless families and to establish preschools in low-income communities.

This is an updated version of a previously published story.

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