NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller, former head of Chase Manhattan Corp and patriarch of one of the most famous and influential American families, died on Monday, a family spokesman said. He was 101.
Rockefeller, who reportedly gave away nearly $2 billion in his lifetime, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York, spokesman Fraser Seitel said in a statement.
One of the few remaining links to the U.S. "gilded" era of robber barons, he was the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who developed New York's Rockefeller Center, and was the last living grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil and the family dynasty. He also embodied an era when globe-trotting bank chiefs worked with the world's most powerful politicians.
During his time as head of Chase from 1969 to 1981, Rockefeller forged such a network of close relationships with governments and multinational corporations that observers said the bank had its own foreign policy.
RELATED: David Rockefeller through the years
David Rockefeller through the years
David Rockefeller through the years
(Original Caption) David Rockefeller. A young Rockefeller in 'Stag Line' at Victory Ball. New York: David Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller Jr., oil magnate, pictured in the 'stag line' at the Victory Ball held on Armistice Eve at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
(Original Caption) Kin of Rockefeller Await Arrival of Body. On the railroad station at Tarrytown, N.Y., awaiting the arrival of the body of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., late oil magnate, from Ormond Beach, Fla., are members of his family. Left to right: John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son; David Rockefeller, grandson; Nelson A. Rockefeller, grandson; Winthrop Rockefeller, grandson; Laurance Rockefeller, grandson, and John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, grandson.
U.S. President Gerald Ford conducts a meeting to discuss his 1976 presidential re-election campaign while vacationing in Vail, Colorado, August 26, 1976. (L-R) President Ford Committee Chairman James Baker; former Texas Governor John Connally; PFC Deputy Chairman for Political Affairs Stuart Spencer; Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller; President Ford; Counselor and speechwriter Robert Hartmann; Campaign Director for Senator Dole David Owen; Vice Presidential running-mate Senator Robert Dole; Co-Chairman of Campaign '76 John Deardourff; and PFC Campaign Steering Committee Chairman Rogers Morton. The Republican National Convention of 1976, where Ronald Reagan lost the battle for the presidential nomination to Gerald Ford, was the last contested convention in the country?s history.
REUTERS/Karl Schumacher/Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library/Handout
South Africa's President Nelson Mandela poses for photographers with David Rockefeller following a business breakfast held at the Rockefeller Center in New York, September 18. Mandela will visit New York and Boston prior to addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.
Members of a high-level Council on Foreign Relations delegation led by former banker David Rockefeller held a 5-1/2-hour meeting Saturday night with Castro and other Cuban leaders at the end of a four-day visit to the Caribbean island. Rockefeller (R), Peter Peterson (C), and Bill Rogers speak to members of the media at a press conference prior to their departure in Havana, February 18, 2001.
American philanthropist David Rockefeller (L) speaks with Ecuadorean President Gustavo Noboa (R) during a formal visit in Quito, November 24, 2000. Rockefeller is in Ecuador to invest in social projects.
President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki (R) meets with financier David Rockefeller in New York after a meeting with United States business leaders, September 22. President Mbeki is in New York to attend the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Business magnate David Rockefeller listens to a question at a press conference [attended by South African President Nelson Mandela following a meeting with Uniited States business leaders at Rockefeller Center in New York, September 18. Mandela told the press conference that he reserved judgement on the political crisis surrounding U.S. President Bill Clinton. ]
Inaugural Laureates of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for philanthropy pose at a
lucheon awards ceremony in New York City December 10, 2001. The recipients
are (back row L-R) George Soros, David Rockefeller, William Gates Sr., Ted
Turner (front row L-R) Irene Diamond, Brooke Astor, and Ambassador Leonore
Annenberg. The Carnegie Medals were presented to the seven visionaries of
modern philanthropy for their extrodinary giving of private wealth to the
public good. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Roderick MacKinnon (R), a professor at Rockefeller University in New
York City walks to a news conference with University trustee David
Rockefeller, October 8, 2003 on the day MacKinnon was named a Nobel
Prize winner in Chemistry. MacKinnon, a biophysicist and self-tought
X-ray crystallographer, works on detailed portraits of a class of
proteins that explain the generation of nerve impulses, which are the
electrical activity that underlies all movement, sensation and thought.
MD.22. Madrid, 11/05/04.- El financiero estadounidense multimillonario David Rockefeller durante la presentaciï¿½n de su biografï¿½a esta maï¿½ana en Madrid. EFE/Carmelo Latassa. MD.22. Madrid, 11/05/04.- El financiero estadounidense multimillonario David Rockefeller durante la presentaciï¿½n de su biografï¿½a esta maï¿½ana en Madrid. EFE/Carmelo Latassa.
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The Rockefeller name came to symbolize unpopular U.S. banking policies in debtor countries, and Rockefeller was scorned on the left for working with Chile's Augusto Pinochet and the shah of Iran.
He also was viewed with anger on the right for pushing to open trade with China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Trilateral Commission, a group Rockefeller founded in 1973 to foster relations between North America, Japan and Western Europe, came to be a regular target of the far-right and conspiracy theorists who said it was trying to create a one-world government.
Rockefeller became embroiled in an international incident when in 1979 he and long-time friend Henry Kissinger helped persuade President Jimmy Carter to admit the shah of Iran to the United States for treatment of lymphoma, helping precipitate the Iran hostage crisis.
Born in Manhattan as the youngest of six siblings, Rockefeller spent his childhood in New York City and at the family's estates, and recalled meeting such luminaries as Charles Lindbergh, Admiral Richard Byrd and Sigmund Freud.
His ties to the internationally famous continued throughout his adulthood, symbolized by his famed 100,000-card Rolodex, housed in its own room next to his office in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.
The site of the nine-story mansion where he was born, then New York's largest residence, is now part of the Museum of Modern Art, which his mother, Abby, helped found in 1929.
Rockefeller collected beetles as a lifelong hobby and also acquired art - a Mark Rothko painting he bought in 1960 for less than $10,000 was auctioned for more than $72 million in May 2007.
His fortune, investments in real estate, share of family trusts and other holdings were estimated at $3.3 billion in March 2017 by Forbes magazine. Seitel said Rockefeller had donated nearly $2 billion in his lifetime to organizations including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Rockefeller University.
RELATED: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree through the years
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree through the years
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree through the years
Rockefeller Center glows in the light of its hug Christmas tree. The lights went on last night. December 08, 1961. (Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
CHRISTMAS AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER -- Aired 12/9/66 -- Pictured: NBC Color Mobile Units at the Christmas Tree Lighting in Rockefeller Center, New York City, on December 9, 1966 (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Spectators bask in glow of Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. December 20, 1968. (Photo by Vernon Shibla/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
A 60-foot Norway spruce this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, is set in place today. The tree will be lighted in a ceremony Dec. 5. November 22, 1974. (Photo by Vic DeLucia/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center. December 09, 1985. (Photo by Michael Norcia/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Weather -- Bill Abbate, electrician at Rockefeller Center, tries to keep himself warmly dressed as high atop the giant tree he installs Xmas lights as skaters far below ignore the cold. December 05, 1985. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 5: Santa Claus (C) and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes celebrate the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree 05 December in New York. The 75-foot high Norway Spruce was decorated with 25,000 multi-colored lights for the 63rd lighting of the tree. AFP PHOTO Robert MILLER (Photo credit should read ROBERT MILLER/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 12: Rockefeller Center is sparkling during lighting of this year's Christmas tree, a 100-foot Norway spruce, at the 67th annual holiday celebration. (Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree shortly after the annual lighting ceremony in New York City, December 3, 2000. Thousands of people braved heavy rain to line the streets surrounding the landmark center on Fifth Avenue to watch as the 80foot-high Norway Spruce from Buchanan. New York was lit with nearly 30,000 bulbs. (Photo by Keith D. Bedford/ImageDirect)
397873 01: The Christmas tree sits moments before the 69th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony November 28, 2001 at Rockefeller Center in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)
397873 02: The Christmas tree sits moments after the 69th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony November 28, 2001 at Rockefeller Center in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is seen from the nearby offices during the lighting ceremony in New York 04 December 2002. The 76-foot Norway spruce from Bloomsbury, New Jersey, is lit by 30,000 lights. AFP PHOTO/Doug KANTER (Photo credit should read DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 3: A general view of the 71st Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony December 3, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 10: The holiday season in New York City is officially underway as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is put into position in Rockefeller Plaza. The 74-foot-tall Norway spruce was cut down from the property of Arnold Raquet in Wayne, N.J., and transported to the city this morning. (Photo by Craig Warga/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree after it was lit, 30 November, 2005, in front of the NBC Building in New York. The 9-ton, 74-foot high 65 year-old Norway Spruce has 30,000 lights. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Workers secure into position the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree November 9, 2007 in New York City. The 84-foot-tall, 60-year-old Norway spruce will be lit November 28 and arrived in Manhattan this morning. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 03: A general view at the annual tree lighting ceremony and Christmas celebration at Rockefeller Center on December 3, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is dwarfed by buildings in Manhattan on December 15, 2009 in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit on November 30, 2010 in New York. Originally from Mahopac, New York, the 12-ton, 74-foot Norway Spruce is adorned with 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights on more than five miles of electrical wire, and topped with a Swarovski crystal star. AFP PHOTO / Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: A woman takes a picture of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree with her cell phone as it stands illuminated after the annual lighting ceremony November 30, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Looking up '30 Rock' in Rockefeller Center, New York City, during the holidays. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree also stretches to the sky where a plane can be seen overhead.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lit November 30, 2011 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree at the 2011 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting on November 30, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lighted November 30, 2011 in New York. (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: A view of the 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center on November 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center awaits lighting on November 28, 2012 in New York City. After two weeks of preparation, the 45,000 lights will be lit on the 80-foot high Norwegian spruce this evening during a celebration televised on NBC and hosted by Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie. The tree will remain lit every evening until January 7. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Spectators enjoy the celebration during 81st Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on December 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 03: A general overview of the 82nd Annual Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center on December 3, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, Dec. 3, 2015 -- Photo taken on Dec. 2, 2015, shows the Norway Spruce during the 83rd Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Rockefeller Center in New York, the United States. Thousands of people witnessed the lighting of 45,000 multi-colored, energy efficient LED on the 78-foot-tall, 80-year-old Norway Spruce, which is topped with a spectacular Swarovski crystal star in Rockefeller Center on Wednesday. The Rockefeller Center has held the Christmas tree lighting ceremony annually to greet the upcoming Christmas since 1933. (Xinhua/Li Muzi via Getty Images)
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In May 2015, he made a rare public appearance in Maine to mark his approaching 100th birthday by donating 1,000 acres (405 hectares) for preservation on exclusive Mount Desert Island.
Rockefeller established several international and philanthropic associations: the Americas Society, the weighty Trilateral Commission to promote cooperation between North America, Europe and Japan, and the New York City Partnership to help the city's poor.
Chase Manhattan grew from a $4.8 billion institution in 1946 when he joined to a bank with $76.2 billion in assets when he stepped down in April 1981. But it slipped from its standing then as No. 3 in the world and was purchased by Chemical Bank of New York in 1996. Today it is part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
He published his autobiography, "Memoirs," in 2002 and continued going to work every day into his 90s.
He remained a lifelong member of the moderate "Rockefeller Republicans" wing of that party, including his 2006 co-founding of Republicans Who Care, to support the party's moderates.
RELATED: Rockefeller family photos
(Original Caption) The Rockefellers Arrive at Restoration Via Buggy. Tarrytown, New York: John D. Rockefeller waves greetings upon his arrival at Philipse Castle for the restoration ceremonies. The castle donated by the Rockefellers as a museum of historic note was built in 1683. Mrs. John D. Rockefeller is seen in the car with her husband. The car, an electric buggy is 35 years old.
Opening of Rainbow Room -- Mr. & Mrs. Richard A. Voell Ceo Rockefeller center on right. Middle David Rockefellers. December 09, 1987. (Photo by David Rentas/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
The Nelson Rockefellers. February 02, 1974. (Photo by Vernon Shibla/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
John Davison Rockefeller (1839 - 1937, right), American industrialist and founder of the Standard Oil Company, with his son J D Rockefeller Jnr (1874 - 1960). Original Publication: People Disc - HK0156 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 8/4/21-Roscoe, New York: An unusual photo of the Rockefeller family is this one made at Roscoe, N.Y. where the Rockefellers unusually spend part of the summer months. It shows three generations of the Rockefeller family. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the latter's children.
JUL 2 1964; Denverites Attend YWCA Luncheon For Mrs. Laurance S. Rockfeller At Denver Hilton; Mrs. James M. Robinson, Mrs. Will Pirkey and Mrs. Glenn Leonard, from left, are at Wednesday luncheon honoring the Denver visitor. Rockefellers are en route to national YWCA conference at Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.; (Photo By Cloyd Teter/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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Rockefeller earned a degree from Harvard University in 1936 and did graduate work at the London School of Economics, where he met future President John F. Kennedy and dated his sister Kathleen. He was awarded a Ph.D in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940.
From 1940 to 1941 he was secretary to New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and in 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in military intelligence in North Africa and France. Rockefeller was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
Rockefeller's wife, Peggy, died in 1996. They had six children and 10 grandchildren.