David Rockefeller, Sr.
|Birthplace:||New York, New York, USA|
Son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abigail "Abby" Greene Rockefeller (Aldrich)
|Managed by:||Carlos Richard Thomas|
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About David Rockefeller, Sr.
David Rockefeller, Sr. (born June 12, 1915) is the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family. He is the youngest and only surviving child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and the only surviving grandchild of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His five siblings were Abby, John D. III, Nelson, Laurance and Winthrop.
He was born in New York City, at 10 West 54th Street, a nine-story mansion owned by his father, then the largest private residence in the city. It contained rare, ancient, medieval and Renaissance treasures collected by his father — some, such as the Unicorn Tapestries, were held in his father's adjoining premises at 12 West 54th Street. On the seventh floor was his mother Abby's private modern art gallery. The mansion was subsequently donated by David's father as a site for the sculpture garden in his wife's name and memory, now part of the complex that is the Museum of Modern Art.
He spent much time as a child at the vast family estate of Pocantico (see Kykuit), where he recalls visits by, among many other famous visitors, General George C. Marshall, the adventurer Admiral Richard Byrd (whose Antarctic expeditions had been funded by his father), and the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. Summer vacations were spent at the Eyrie, a vast rambling 100-room mansion in Seal Harbor on the southeast shore of Mount Desert Island, in Maine (with neighbors and friends such as members of the Ford family), along with a large retinue of servants, French tutors and governesses (the mansion was demolished by the family in the early 1960s).
Rockefeller attended the experimental Lincoln School, at 123rd Street, in Harlem, the brainchild of Abraham Flexner, who had been strongly influenced by the educational philosophy of John Dewey. The school, opened in 1916, was operated by the Teachers College at Columbia University, with crucial funding in its early years from the family's General Education Board, the philanthropic educational institution which had been created by his grandfather and further supported by his father, which was later rolled into the Rockefeller Foundation.
Later, in 1936, he graduated cum laude from Harvard University, doing his senior thesis on Fabian socialism. He did a postgraduate year in economics at Harvard and then a year at the London School of Economics, which had strong links to the family through his father and the family-run Rockefeller Foundation. It was at this time he first worked briefly in the London branch of what was to become the Chase Manhattan Bank. It was at the LSE he first met John F. Kennedy (although he had earlier been his contemporary at Harvard) and briefly dated Kennedy's sister Kathleen. In 1940 he received his Ph.D. from the family-created (1889) University of Chicago; his dissertation was entitled: "Unused Resources and Economic Waste".
In that year, in order to gain experience in government service, he became secretary to New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia for eighteen months in what is known as a "dollar a year" public service position. Although the mayor was at pains to point out to the press that he was only one of 60 interns in the city government, his working space was, in fact, the vacant office of the deputy mayor.
World War II
He served as assistant regional director of the United States Office of Defense, Health and Welfare Services, from 1941 to 1942. In 1943 he enlisted in the war effort and entered Officer Candidate School; he was ultimately promoted to captain in 1945. During World War II he served in North Africa and France (he spoke fluent French) for military intelligence and set up political and economic intelligence units, while also serving for seven months as an assistant military attaché at the American Embassy in Paris. During this period he would call on family contacts and Standard Oil executives for assistance, establish contacts of his own, and come to highly regard the invaluable potential of "networking".
Joins family business
After the war he returned to the family office, Room 5600, in Rockefeller Center, where he joined up with his brothers in their reorganization of this pivotal family establishment and participated in some of their myriad business and philanthropic ventures, especially a major investment in Nelson's Latin American developmental organization, the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC), as well as investing in fifty start-up companies of his brother Laurance's venture capital firm Venrock Associates.
It was at this time that the institution of regular "brothers' meetings" was established, where they made decisions on matters of common interest and reported on noteworthy events in each of their lives. David served as secretary to the group, making notes of each meeting. It has been subsequently reported via a family history that these notes would serve as excellent source material for researchers, but that it will be a long time before these notes are released to the public, if ever.
In 1947, Rockefeller was invited onto the board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by its then president, Alger Hiss, later to be embroiled in a spy scandal; serving on the board were such figures as John Foster Dulles (chairman), Dwight D. Eisenhower and the president of IBM, Thomas J. Watson. He duly accepted the prestigious appointment and was subsequently instrumental in relocating the Endowment's headquarters to a site opposite the new United Nations headquarters building, with a Chase Bank branch on the ground floor.
Rockefeller joined the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a director in 1949, the youngest to be appointed to that position up to that time; he was later to become head of the nominating committee for future membership; much later he became chairman of this influential foreign policy think-tank. It was later established, however, that his connection to the Council predated this directorship in 1949. He had earlier played a role in the Council's deliberations as the secretary of the CFR Study Group on "Reconstruction in Western Europe", that met over the years 1946–1947. The deliberations of that group are credited with influencing the Truman administration's decision to reconstruct war ravaged Europe with American financial aid, subsequently known as the Marshall Plan.
Thus began a lifelong association with the Council on Foreign Relations, which had been financially supported for its establishment, in 1921, by his father, who also provided major funding for its first headquarters. Further ongoing funding was provided by the family's Rockefeller Foundation and family-created oil companies; along with a Standard Oil executive's widow providing the mansion for its expanded New York headquarters, Harold Pratt House, in 1944.
Through his extended membership, including as the prominent long-term chairman, from 1970 to 1985, he met all the major foreign policy figures of successive presidential administrations from Harry S. Truman onwards to the present day — for example, the former United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and the former vice-president, Dick Cheney, are longtime Council members.
Career at the Chase BankIn 1946, Rockefeller became the family's first and only banker when he joined the staff of the longtime family-associated Chase National Bank ("the Rockefeller Bank"). The chairman at that time was his uncle Winthrop Aldrich, the son of the powerful U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, and the brother of Rockefeller's mother, Abby Aldrich. Chase National subsequently became the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1955, and is now called JPMorgan Chase.
He started as an assistant manager (the lowest officer rank) in the Foreign Department, which financed international trade in a number of commodities, such as coffee, sugar and metals; it also maintained relationships with more than 1,000 correspondent banks throughout the world. He worked his way up through the ranks (but was never a teller and never made a loan), becoming president in 1960. He was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan from 1969 to 1980 and chairman until 1981. He was also, as recently as 1980, the single largest individual shareholder of the bank, holding 1.7% of its shares.
The Chase was primarily a wholesale bank, dealing with other prominent financial institutions and major corporate clients such as General Electric (which had, through its RCA affiliate, leased prominent space and become a crucial first tenant of Rockefeller Center, rescuing that major project in 1930). The bank also is closely associated with and has financed the oil industry, having longstanding connections with its board directors to the successor companies of Standard Oil, especially Exxon Mobil. It was only through the 1955 merger that the bank shifted significantly into consumer banking.
In 1954, Rockefeller became chairman of the committee charged with deciding the location of the bank's new headquarters. The following year his decision to erect the building in the Wall Street area was accepted; it was subsequently seen as a decision that directly revived the City's downtown financial district. In 1960 the headquarters was completed under his direction at One Chase Manhattan Plaza, on Liberty Street in downtown Manhattan, directly across from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At 60 stories, it was at that time the largest bank building in the world; it also had, five floors below ground, the largest bank vault then in existence.
The Chase Bank's principal competitor — then and now — was National City Bank of New York (later First National City Bank), now Citibank, a division of the holding company Citigroup. Ironically, National City had a long association with the Rockefeller family through James Stillman, a director of the Bank, and David's great-uncle William Rockefeller, Standard Oil's finance manager, who was recruited to the Bank's board by Stillman from 1884 onwards. The Bank then became enriched by its association with the Standard Oil empire, to the point where it was nicknamed the Oil Bank.
When Stillman and William Rockefeller's children later intermarried they became the Stillman Rockefellers and a descendant, James Stillman Rockefeller, subsequently became chairman of Citibank from 1959, at about the same time as David became Chase president in 1960.
In the 1960s Rockefeller and other businessmen formed the Chase International Advisory Committee (IAC) — which in 2005 consisted of twenty-eight prominent and respected businessmen from 19 nations throughout the world, many of whom were his personal friends; he was subsequently to become chairman until he retired from that position on the IAC in 1999. After the J. P. Morgan merger, this committee was renamed the International Council, and contains prominent figures such as Henry Kissinger, Riley P. Bechtel (of the Bechtel Group), Andre Desmarais, Lee Kuan Yew and George Shultz, the current chairman. Historically, prominent figures on the IAC have included Gianni Agnelli (a longtime associate, who spent thirty years on the Committee), John Loudon (Chairman of Royal Dutch-Shell), C. Douglas Dillon, David Packard and Henry Ford II.
Under his stewardship the Chase spread internationally and became a central pillar in the world's financial system, including being the leading bank for the United Nations. It has a global network of correspondent banks that has been estimated to number about 50,000, the largest of any bank in the world. A notable achievement was the setting up of the first branch of an American bank at One Karl Marx Square, near the Kremlin, in the then Soviet Union, in 1973. This was also the year Rockefeller traveled to China, resulting in his bank becoming the National Bank of China's first correspondent bank in the United States.
Before becoming Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker worked for Chase. Volcker has had a long association with Rockefeller, becoming a member of the Trust Committee of the family in 1987, after stepping down from his position at the Reserve. The Trust Committee is the pivotal committee which controls the wealth of the family through trusts established by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as well as the real estate firm that then owned Rockefeller Center, before it was sold.
World Bank and IMFThe Chase Bank has also had a strong connection to the World Bank, as three presidents (John J. McCloy, Eugene R. Black, Sr. and George Woods) all worked at Chase before taking up positions at the international bank. A fourth president, James D. Wolfensohn, is also closely associated with Rockefeller, serving as a director of the Rockefeller Foundation, amongst other family-created institutions.
Rockefeller has also for many years hosted annual luncheons at the family's Westchester County Pocantico estate for the world's finance ministers and central bank governors, following the annual Washington meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. These luncheons were held at the Playhouse. These regular meetings were also attended by the other internationalist in the family, John D. Rockefeller III, until his death in 1978.
It was through a recommendation from the World Bank's Eugene Black that Rockefeller gained a crucial executive assistant, Joseph Verner Reed, Jr., from the beginning of his Chase chairmanship; Reed had been an assistant to Black at the World Bank and had worked with Black when he was a Chase director, rising to become a Vice President. Reed was subsequently to become a crucial emissary for Rockefeller in the admittance of the Shah of Iran into the United States, amongst other duties. Later, in 1987, Reed became Under Secretary General for Political Affairs at the United Nations, a pivotal senior position that is traditionally given to the United States, thus becoming the top-ranking American in the United Nations Secretariat.
An early connection he developed in the 1950s was with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As well as knowing Allen Dulles and his brother John Foster Dulles — who was an in-law of the family- since his college years, it was in Room 3603 in Rockefeller Center that Allen Dulles had set up his WWII operational center after Pearl Harbor, liaising closely with MI6 which also had their principal U.S. operation in the Center. He also knew and associated with the former CIA director Richard Helms, as well as Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., a Chase Bank employee and former CIA agent, whose cousin was the CIA agent, Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., involved in the Iran coup of 1953. Also, in 1953, he had befriended William Bundy, a pivotal CIA analyst for nine years in the 1950s, who became the Agency liaison to the National Security Council, and a subsequent lifelong friend. Moreover, in Cary Reich's biography of his brother Nelson, a former CIA agent states that David was extensively briefed on covert intelligence operations by himself and other Agency division chiefs, under the direction of David's "friend and confidant", CIA Director Allen Dulles.
In November 1979, while chairman of the Chase Bank, Rockefeller became embroiled in an international incident when he and Henry Kissinger, along with John J. McCloy and Rockefeller aides, persuaded President Jimmy Carter through the United States Department of State to admit the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into the United States for hospital treatment for lymphoma. This action directly precipitated what is known as the Iran hostage crisis and placed Rockefeller under intense media scrutiny (particularly from The New York Times) for the first time in his public life.
In his extensive world travels, flying from country to country in his private jet, he has met a vast range of world leaders, including Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev and, notably, Saddam Hussein. Other notable figures whom he has counted amongst his personal friends include members of the Rothschild, Henry Ford and Dulles families, along with such high profile individuals as Katharine Graham, of the Washington Post, Brooke Astor, Nelson Mandela and Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group, who succeeded Rockefeller as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1985.
Rockefeller has often hosted visits by foreign dignitaries to New York. One such occasion occurred in 1994 and concerned the visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Rockefeller co-hosted their reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the chairman of the New York Times Company, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., who was also chairman of the museum; among the audience were Helmut Schmidt of Germany, Sir Edward Heath of the United Kingdom and Jacques Chirac of France.
Another prominent American public official with whom Rockefeller has had a longstanding relationship was his brother Nelson's long-time consultant and protege, Henry Kissinger, whose wife, Nancy Kissinger, (née Maginnes) was a former foreign policy aide to his brother. They first met in 1954, when Kissinger was appointed a director of a seminal Council on Foreign Relations study group on nuclear weapons, of which David was a member. The relationship developed to the point that Kissinger was invited to sit on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Rockefeller consulted with Kissinger on numerous occasions, as for example in the Chase Bank's interests in Chile and the threat of the election of Salvador Allende in 1970, and fully supported his "opening of China" initiative in 1971 as it afforded banking opportunities for the Chase Bank.
In 1965, Rockefeller and other senior businessmen formed the Council of the Americas to stimulate and support economic integration in the Americas. The Council subsequently played a key role in the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 1992, at a Council sponsored forum, Rockefeller proposed a "Western Hemisphere free trade area", which subsequently became the Free Trade Area of the Americas in a Miami summit in 1994. His and the Council's chief liaison to President Bill Clinton in order to garner support for this initiative was through Clinton's chief of staff, Mack McLarty, whose consultancy firm Kissinger McLarty Associates is a corporate member of the Council, while McLarty himself is on the board of directors.
In 1967, he formed The Business Committee for the Arts, Inc. (BCA), which is a national not-for-profit based in New York that established the annual Business in the Arts Awards, awarded to businesses who have formed exemplary partnerships with the arts community; this organization is co-sponsored by Forbes Magazine.
In 1979, he formed the Partnership for New York City, which is another not-for-profit membership organization consisting of a select group of two hundred CEOs ("Partners") from New York City’s top corporate, investment and entrepreneurial firms. They are elected annually and committed to working closely with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to enhance the economy and maintain New York City’s position as the global center of commerce, culture and innovation. Through its roster of blue-chip corporations, Rockefeller sits at the core of a network of the most powerful and influential businessmen and women in corporate America. In 1992, he was selected as a leading member of the Russian-American Bankers Forum, an advisory group set up by the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to advise Russia on the modernization of its banking system, with the full endorsement of President Boris Yeltsin.
President Jimmy Carter offered him the positions of United States Secretary of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Chairman but he declined both positions, preferring a private role (recommending Volcker instead as Fed Chairman, who was subsequently appointed). Another offer he declined was from his brother Nelson, who offered to appoint him to Robert Kennedy's Senate seat after Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968, a post Nelson also offered to their nephew Jay Rockefeller.
In his private capacity he has worked with every United States president since Eisenhower, at times serving as an unofficial emissary on high-level diplomatic missions (an "ambassador without portfolio"). In addition, he has acted as spokesman for the U.S. business and financial community and the New York City business community to United States Presidents on several notable occasions, notably the occasion of New York City's budgetary crisis of 1975.
A lifelong Republican and party contributor, like his father in the dynastic line, he is a committed member of the moderate "Rockefeller Republicans" that arose out of the political ambitions and public policy stance of his brother Nelson. In 2006 he teamed up with former Goldman Sachs executives and others to form a fund-raising group based in Washington, Republicans Who Care, that supported moderate Republican candidates over more ideological contenders.
Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral CommissionA lifelong globalist, due to the strong influence of his father, he had at an early age further spread his connections when he was invited to attend the inaugural elitist Bilderberg Group meetings, starting with the Holland gathering in 1954. He has been a consistent attendee through the decades and has been a member of the "steering committee", which determines the invitation list for the upcoming annual meetings. These have frequently included prominent national figures who have gone on to be elected as political leaders of their respective countries including Bill Clinton who first attended in 1991.
David Rockefeller joined the Council on Foreign Relations as its youngest-ever director in 1949 and subsequently became chairman of the board from 1970 to 1985; today he serves as honorary chairman.
In 2002 Rockefeller authored his autobiography "Memoirs" wherein, on page 405, Mr. Rockefeller writes: "For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
Rockefeller maintains that, although Bilderberg's role is not to resolve disputes, because of the wide-ranging experience of the various attendees participants are 'free to report on what they have heard' to their respective heads of government.
It was a dissatisfaction with the failure of this group to include Japan that subsequently led to him forming the Trilateral Commission (TC) in July 1973, influenced by, among others, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor under Carter and the author of Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era, published in 1970. They discussed forming the organization at a Bilderberg Group meeting in Belgium in 1972; Brzezinski subsequently became the inaugural United States director. The Commission also launched its own magazine, the Trialogue.
It held the founding session of its Executive Committee in Tokyo in October, 1973. In May 1975, the first plenary meeting of all of the Commission's regional groups — North America, Europe and Japan, comprising some 300 members — took place in Kyoto. In its Third Annual Report, released in mid-1976, the Commission noted that there was a "noticeably increased emphasis on trilateral ties as the cornerstone of American foreign policy".
This Commission was to come under media scrutiny when it was later disclosed that Carter appointed 26 former Commission members (who must resign before taking up government positions) to senior positions in his Administration. Moreover, it also came out that Carter himself was a former Trilateral member. (The Clinton Administration, by contrast, had close to a dozen Commission members, including Clinton himself; both Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush were also Trilateralists).
An important aspect of the Commission is their sending of delegations to visit foreign leaders. In 1989, to cite just one instance, Rockefeller visited the then USSR at the head of a high-powered Commission delegation that included Henry Kissinger, former French President Giscard d'Estaing, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and William Hyland, editor of the CFR's prestigious journal Foreign Affairs. In their meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the delegation sought and received an explanation on how the USSR would integrate into the world economy. The information thus gained through such delegations is then relayed back in reports to both the TC members and, where appropriate, to United States political leaders.
The family estate: Pocantico
There are innumerable instances of prominent world leaders, kings, sheiks and presidents and other personages visiting Rockefeller at the vast family estate and its central mansion, in addition to visits to his own residence there, "Hudson Pines" — President Ronald Reagan, to give just one example, stayed overnight at the family estate in 1986 (see Kykuit).
The Kykuit area of the family estate is also the location of The Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) — set up by David and his four brothers and one sister in 1940 — which was created when the Fund leased the area from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1991. Known as the Playhouse, it provides a setting where the Fund and other nonprofit organizations and public sector institutions can bring together people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to engage in critical world issues.
Following the deaths of his brothers, Winthrop in 1973, John D. III in 1978, Nelson in 1979, and Laurance in 2004, David became sole head of the family (with the important involvement of his son, David Jr.), and hence of Room 5600, the family office based on the 56th floor of the landmark GE Building in Rockefeller Center.
The legendary office, once known as the Office of the Messrs Rockefeller, after shifting from Standard Oil headquarters at 26 Broadway in 1933, changed its name over the decades and is known formally today as Rockefeller Family and Associates. It is the family seat for the handling of all the family's affairs, with hundreds of staff advisors and assistants assisting on the taxation, legal, accounting, real estate, investment and personal and philanthropic interests of all the members of the six-generation clan, numbering an estimated 150 direct blood relatives.
In addition, the prominent longtime Rockefeller-associated law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (with John J. McCloy being the last named partner), located in the JP Morgan Chase headquarters building at One Chase Manhattan Plaza, has served as the family's longterm private legal advisors (and also serves as legal counsel for the Chase Bank) since the days of David's father. Historically, it has always had one or two senior representatives located within the family office.
David ensured that selected members of the fourth generation, known generically as the cousins, also became directly involved in the family's institutions, including Room 5600 and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the principal foundation established in 1940 by the five brothers and their one sister. They also became involved in their own philanthropic organization, formed in 1967 and primarily established by third-generation members, called the Rockefeller Family Fund.
The collective power of the cousins was demonstrated in the mortgaging and subsequent sale in 1989 of Rockefeller Center to Mitsubishi Real Estate, in order to free up part of the family fortune to invest in more lucrative investments, which gave the burgeoning family members a greater share of the available income. The members have spread from New York and are now far more diverse in their interests. Nevertheless, overall family and institutional cohesion has been maintained to a remarkable degree (more so than any other late 19th century wealthy family). This cohesion is crucially maintained through ritual annual meetings held in June and December of each year at the "Playhouse" on the family estate at Pocantico (see Kykuit).
In 2000, Rockefeller presided over the final sale of Rockefeller Center to Jerry Speyer's Tishman Speyer Properties, along with the Crown family of Chicago, which ended the more than 70 years of direct family financial association with the landmark New York complex. It later turned out that he had a long association with Jerry Speyer through the Museum of Modern Art, so there was still an enduring partnership in operation, though not directly financial in nature.
In 2003, he served as "honorary member" of the Jury for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition. This was appropriate as he had created and chaired the original Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association in 1960 that had initiated the Center, along with major backing from his brother, Nelson Rockefeller, who was the New York Governor at the time, as well as with the New York power broker at the time, Robert Moses.
Rockefeller has always limited his giving to institutions directly or indirectly related to the family; for example, in 2005, at age ninety, he gave $100 million to the Museum of Modern Art and $100 million to Rockefeller University, two of the most prominent family institutions; as well as $10 million to Harvard and $5 million to Colonial Williamsburg. In 2006, he pledged $225 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund upon his death, the largest gift in the Fund's history. The money will be used to create the David Rockefeller Global Development Fund, to support projects that improve access to health care, conduct research on international finance and trade, fight poverty, and support sustainable development, as well as to a program that fosters dialogue between Muslim and Western nations. The New York Times estimated in November, 2006 that his total charitable donations amount to $900 million over his lifetime, a figure that was substantiated by a monograph on the family's overall benefactions, entitled The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Wealth and hobbies
He possesses a famous Rolodex in his office in Room 5600, which he started in the 1940s. It is described as a unique, massive four-foot-by-five-foot gold wheel contraption, containing up to 150,000 entries of the most powerful people in the world.
His net wealth is estimated at 2.2 billion dollars, ranking him among the 300 richest people in the world. Initially, most of his wealth had come to him via the family trusts that his father had set up, which were administered by Room 5600 and the Chase Bank. In turn, most of these trusts were held as shares in the successor companies of Standard Oil, as well as diverse real estate investment partnerships, such as the expansive Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, which he later sold for considerable profit, retaining only an indirect stake. In addition, he is or has been a partner in various properties such as a 4,000-acre (16 km2) resort development in the Virgin Islands and a cattle ranch in Argentina, as well as a 15,500-acre (63 km2) sheep ranch in Australia.
Another major source of asset wealth is his formidable art collection, ranging from impressionist to postmodern, which he developed through the raising of his mother Abby and her establishment, with two associates, of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1929. He is not a collector of most modern art himself but, as chairman and honorary chairman, has never hindered MoMA's acquisition of the newer works. He has donated many works to MoMA over the decades and more will go there after his death.
Wealth is also tied up in the successor companies to his grandfather's oil empire; as recently as 1998 he and other family members were still minority shareholders of the primary Standard Oil offshoot, Exxon Mobil, and David was keeping tabs on the company's progress.
His Memoirs were published in 2002, the only time a member of the six-generation clan has written an autobiography (royalties from the book go to charities that assist AIDS orphans and other needy children in South Africa). Notably, it was over ten years in the writing, with many personal staff in Room 5600 involved, including the family historian who supervised the project, Peter J. Johnson, as well as Fraser P. Seitel, a former head of public affairs at the Chase Bank and one of the premier public relations professionals in America. Seitel is the author of the acclaimed textbook The Practice of Public Relations, and a senior counselor for the leading public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, a division of WPP, one of the world's largest communication services companies.
Despite its lengthy preparation, Rockefeller's Memoirs has been criticized for what it appears to omit; some critics maintain the book has "unanswered questions" on every page. The full story of his life and ultimate influence cannot be known, as all his papers are held in the Rockefeller Archive Center at Kykuit and are not currently open to researchers or historians.
Rockefeller donated $100 million to Harvard University in 2008.
Wife, children and residences
Rockefeller's principal residence is at "Hudson Pines", on the family estate in Westchester County, New York. He also has a Manhattan residence at East 65th Street, as well as a country residence (known as "Four Winds") at a farm in Livingston, New York (Columbia County), where his wife raised Simmenthal beef cattle. He also maintains a summer home on Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast.
He married Margaret "Peggy" McGrath on September 7, 1940; born in 1915, she was the daughter of a partner in a prominent Wall Street law firm. They had six children:
1.David Rockefeller, Jr. (b. July 24, 1941) — Vice Chairman, Rockefeller Family & Associates (the family office, Room 5600); Chairman of Rockefeller Financial Services; Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation; former Chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller & Co., Inc., among many other family institutions.
2.Abby Rockefeller (b. 1943) — The eldest and most rebellious daughter, she was drawn to Marxism and was an ardent admirer of Fidel Castro and a late 1960s/early 1970s radical feminist who belonged to the organization Female Liberation, later forming a splinter group called Cell 16. An environmentalist and ecologist, she was an active supporter of the women's liberation movement.
3.Neva Rockefeller Goodwin (b. 1944) — Economist and philanthropist. She is Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute; Trustee and Vice Chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Director of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
4.Peggy Dulany (b. 1947) — Founder of the Synergos Institute in 1986; Board member of the Council on Foreign Relations; serves on the Advisory Committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.
5.Richard Rockefeller (b. 1949) — A physician and philanthropist; chairman of the United States advisory board of the international aid group Doctors Without Borders; Trustee and Chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
6.Eileen Rockefeller Growald (b. 1952) — Venture philanthropist; Founding Chair of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, established in New York City in 2002. Margaret died in 1996. As of 2002, David had ten grandchildren: (by David) Ariana, Camilla; (by Neva) David, Miranda; (by Peggy) Michael; (by Richard) Clay, Rebecca; (by Abby) Christopher; (by Eileen) Danny and Adam.
One of his granddaughters, Miranda Duncan (born 1971), came to media attention in April 2005, when she publicly resigned, without disclosing reasons, from her position as a senior investigator for the UN Iraq Oil-for-Food corruption Probe, conducted by Paul Volcker, into the possible involvement of Kofi Annan and his son.