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Robert W. Wilson leaps to his death at 87; hedge-fund founder and philanthropist

Washington Post – Robert W. Wilson, a retired New York hedge-fund founder who committed his life to donating his fortune to charities, died Dec. 23 in Manhattan. He was 87.

He leaped from his 16th-floor residence at the San Remo apartment building on Manhattan’s Central Park West, according to a person with knowledge of the incident who asked not to be identified because family members hadn’t been notified. Police said an 87-year-old man was found in a courtyard at the rear of the building and pronounced dead from an apparent suicide. Mr. Wilson suffered a stroke in June, Gary Castle, his accountant, said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Mr. Wilson, whose Wall Street career spanned five decades, started Wilson & Associates, a hedge fund, in 1969 after working as a securities analyst. He retired in 1986 and, by 2000, his net worth peaked at about $800 million, Castle said. By then, Mr. Wilson had already begun to give most of his money away, donating more than $500 million to charities, primarily to conservation groups, Castle said.

One recipient was World Monuments Fund, a New York-based organization dedicated to preserving architectural and cultural heritage sites worldwide. In 1989, Mr. Wilson responded to a direct-mail appeal from the group seeking donations of $25 or more. He sent in a check for $5,000, Bonnie Burnham, president of the fund, said in a telephone interview.

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