David Koch, who plowed a vast industrial fortune into right-wing causes and philanthropic pursuits, has died at the age of 79. His older brother Charles, his partner in business at Koch Industries and in many political initiatives, announced the news. No exact cause of death was given in the statement, though it noted that he fought prostate cancer in the past.
The Kochs donated more than $100 million to right-wing and libertarian causes over many decades, according to the New York Times, and created a donor network that facilitated contributions totaling far more. In 1980, David Koch entered politics directly, running for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket.
Koch was a major donor to cultural and medical causes, giving away some $1.2 billion during his life, and he was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Lincoln Center. (The combined wealth of the brothers was estimated to be as high as $100 billion in recent years.)
In 2014, the David H. Koch Plaza opened in front of the Met, following his $65 million donation to renovate the museum’s entryway. The public space occasionally served as a venue for protests against his political efforts, which included funding programs that disputed climate-change science. Other major focuses of his politics were lowering taxes and slashing environmental and labor regulations.
At the time of the plaza’s completion, Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director and CEO said, “Rather than finding the complexity of the project daunting—from the hauling of granite for new fountains and paving stones, to the planting of trees and the installation of hundreds of LED lights, on an area roughly the equivalent size of three football fields—David Koch recognized its significance, embraced it, and made it happen.”
Koch Industries—a conglomerate whose business ranges from chemicals to finance—was founded in 1940 by David and Charles’s father, Fred C. Koch. After Fred’s death in 1967, his sons inherited major portions of the company. At the time, Charles began serving as chairman and CEO, positions he still holds today. David became involved in the business in 1970 and stepped down last year because of his health.
This post will be updated.