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Buffett Gift Sends $31 Billion to Gates Foundation

Warren Buffett, right, speaks alongside Bill and Melinda Gates as they detail Buffett's financial gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Spencer Platt
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Warren Buffett, right, speaks alongside Bill and Melinda Gates as they detail Buffett's financial gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Warren Buffett, billionaire investor and founder of Berkshire Hathaway, has announced he is donating much of his fortune to charity. Over time, most of Buffett's $44 billion in stock holdings will be given to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the form of Berkshire Hathaway shares, Buffett signed papers that give $31 billion of his fortune to fund the Gates Foundation's work in fighting infectious diseases and reforming education.

Besides the major gift to the Gates Foundation, Buffett is dividing $6 billion among four other charities started by his family members. Those foundations support environmental causes, abortion rights, helping low-income children and human rights.

At a lively, jocular event at the New York Public Library, Buffett signed the letters that pledge $37 billion in stock to five different foundations, and he reassured the crowd that he had checked the names of the beneficiaries.

"I wanted to make sure I didn't write one that says, 'Dear Anna Nicole Smith,'" Buffett said.

An investment guru often known as the Oracle of Omaha, Buffett's pledges of help have made him the most generous philanthropist in history.

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Robert Smith
Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.