Wilson had experienced a debilitating stroke a few months prior to his death, and his friend Stephen Vicusi told the Post, “He always said he didn’t want to suffer, and when the time came, he would be ready.”
According to the police, Wilson left a suicide note in his apartment in the San Remo on Central Park West, and his death is not considered to be suspicious.
He is the former manager of Wilson Associates, the hedge fund he founded in 1969, and where he accumulated his fortune. Prior to that, he was a securities analyst. Wilson retired in 1986 and turned to philanthropy. Though he was a professed atheist, his philanthropy included donations to Catholic education and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese because of his strong belief in the superior quality of private education. But his highest philanthropic priority was conservation.
Wilson, who had vowed to give away 70 percent of a fortune estimated at $800 million, reportedly came very close to that goal. He recently made $100 million grants to the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Vicusi told the post, “His plan was to give all his money away… He told me recently, ‘I only have about $100 million to go.’”
Wilson had no children, and his only marriage ended in divorce after 35 years. Wilson leaves a legacy in the form of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, endowed with around $50 million in assets at the time of his death.