• angusbenfield

A tale of 2 Billionaires

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

What does it all mean at the end of the day? Once the pursuit of basic wealth supersedes to something else and the goal post shifts?


Can I borrow a few bucks?

On a cold bitter Monday night a 74 year old Swabian billionaire threw himself into an oncoming train and died instantly...

Adolf Merkle left his family with just a brief note saying sorry…why? He lost $500 million dollars.

However he still had $8.3 billion dollars left.

He didn’t live a lavish life style, much like Warren Buffet, he lived a modest, very modestly in fact, he didn’t even live like a humble millionaire, he even rode a push bike to work and not even a good one.


He had no pleasure in having stuff, but he was obviously affected by the prestige of having more. These many zeros in Merkle's bank account were like the zeros and ones in a computer program but he felt they defined who he was…so when the zeros began to shrink down, he lost his own identity and couldn’t live on another day.

3 days after he died he was granted a bridge loan to cover the loss.

His company continued on without him and no one lost anything…except his family who tragically lost their father and husband…which no amount of money can buy or replace.

On a cool summer afternoon at Dublin’s Heuston station, an 81 year old man didn’t step in front of a train but stepped off of a train.

Chuck Peeny had just dropped off $170 million in grants to the University of Limerick…and then caught the train home.

Like Merkle, he wasn’t too fazed by the stuff money could by and lived humbly and modestly…the difference was that he realized that money didn’t define who he was, it wasn’t his identity...he saw money simply as a ‘thing’ that could be used to help those in need.


So Peeny began to develop the reputation as the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ for his crisscrossing globally clandestine operations whilst giving away his $7.5 billion dollar fortune .

He quite happily watched the zeros shrink in his account, it doesn’t define who he is, he knows his identity and his purpose on this earth, its not about him, its about others. Peeny looks outward whilst Merkle looked inward…Peeny lives and Merkle dies…Peeny is happy and Merkle is miserable…

What can we learn from this…

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