Billionaire businessman David Koch, one of the richest men in the world and a prominent Republican party donor, has died.
‘Sources close to the family say David Koch has died,’ New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer tweeted on Friday morning, breaking the news.
Details about the time, place and the circumstances surrounding the 79-year-old’s death are currently unclear.
He and his older brother Charles, 83, have been among the biggest donors to the GOP since the 1980s.
‘It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David,’ Charles Koch (pronounced ‘coke’) said in a statement on Friday. ‘Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life.’
He is survived by his wife, Julia, and their three children: David Jr, Mary Julia, and John Mark.
‘He believed he had a responsibility to a world that had given him so many opportunities to succeed,’ Julia Koch said in a statement.
‘David’s philanthropic dedication to education, the arts and cancer research will have a lasting impact on innumerable lives – and that we will cherish forever.’
Billionaire businessman David Koch of the infamous Koch brothers has died at age 79. Pictured: Koch, right, with older brother Charles, left, on Morning Joe in November 2015
Details surrounding Koch’s death including the time, place and cause are unclear. He is survived by his wife, Julia, and their three children. Pictured: Koch at the 13th Annual Prostate Cancer Foundation Gala in Water Mill, New York, August 2017, left; and with his wife, Julia, at The School of American Ballet’s Winter Ball at the David H Koch Theater in New York City, March 2017, right
The brothers built their fortune with Koch Industries, an oil, chemical and textiles conglomerate, based in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas.
It is currently the second-largest privately held company in the US, with Charles, the current CEO, saying it would go public ‘literally over my dead body’, reported The Economist.
In June 2018, David stepped down from the company, saying his health was taking a toll on him.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992. At the time, he was given five months to live.
‘David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay,’ Charles’s statement read.
‘We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.’
According to Forbes magazine, his net worth was $42.4billion at the time of his death ranking him the 11th richest person in the world – tied with his brother, Charles.
He is reportedly the fourth richest person in the US and the wealthiest resident of New York City.
In addition to New York City, he had homes in Southampton, New York, Aspen, Colorado, and Palm Beach, Florida.
The brothers began their political journey backing hard-line Libertarian causes in the late seventies, culminating in David’s run as the vice-presidential candidate on the Libertarian party ticket in the 1980 presidential election.
He and presidential candidate Ed Clark ran on a platform that called for the abolition of Social Security, the IRS, the Federal Reserve, the FBI, the CIA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
They were also against public spending, including public schools, Medicare and Medicaid.
As a message, it failed to resonate, and the ticket received only one percent, with Ronald Reagan going on to defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter.
David was born in Wichita, Kansas, in May 1940 and is a twin to Bill Koch. Pictured, left to right: Bill Koch, Charles Koch, David Koch and Frederick Koch, undated
He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pictured, left to right: Bill Koch, Charles Koch, and David Koch, undated
David joined Koch Industries, founded by his father, in 1970. Pictured: Mother Mary, sitting; back row, from left to right: Bill Koch, David Koch, father Fred Koch, Charles Koch and Frederick Koch
David once once held the MIT basketball single-game scoring record of 41 points. Pictured: David, left, and Bill on MIT’s basketball team during the 1960-61 season
Since the 1980s, the Koch brothers have used their enormous fortune to bankroll their own conservative political machine, creating a vast empire of organizations and advocacy groups that entrenched the post-Reagan GOP as the party of tax cuts and scant regulation.
In doing so became the bete noire for many Democratic and environmental activists, who bemoaned the tentacles of the ‘kochtopus’ and its outside influence on conservative politics.
Environmental activists have criticized the pair for funding political campaigns that focus on rolling back environmental regulations and being the primary sponsors of climate change denial in the US.
Koch Industries has paid millions in penalties and fines for oil spills, discharging toxic chemicals and violating other environmental regulations.
According to advocacy group Good Jobs First, the company has paid more than $749million in environmental violations since 200.
David and his brother advocated for reduced government spending and limited involvement in wars overseas, and analysts believe they helped give rise to the Tea Party movement.
In a Weekly Standard interview in 2011, David called then-President Barack Obama as ‘the most radical president we’ve ever had as a nation’ and claimed he had ‘done more damage to the free enterprise system and long-term prosperity than any president we’ve ever had’, reported CNBC.
David ran as the vice-presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, but only received one percent of the vote. Pictured, left to right: David, presidential candidate Ed Clark, and Clark’s wife Alicia Garcia Cobos de Clark, during a rally in Los Angeles, September 1980
He gave $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center – subsequently renamed the David H Koch Theater. Pictured: Sarah Jessica Parker and David Koch at the opening night dinner party of the 2008-2009 New York City Ballet in November 2008
He is believed to have contributed at least $395million to medical institutions and research projects between 1998 and 2012. Pictured, left to right: Margo Langenberg, Frederick Koch, David Koch, Julia Koch at The School of American Ballet Winter Ball, March 2017
However, the brothers have clashed with Republican President Donald Trump as well.
They ran ads opposing the import tariffs Trump implemented on goods arriving from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.
Charles and David were also supporters of the Obama-era Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and criticized the Trump administration for failing to provide a legal, easy path to status for young undocumented immigrants.
The brothers have hinted that they would be open to supporting Democrats in the 2020 election.
In addition to being a political donor, David was also a philanthropist.
He gave $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center – subsequently renamed the David H Koch Theater – and $65 million to renovate the plaza at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
David also gave money to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Dinosaur Wing at the American Museum of Natural History.
He is believed to have contributed at least $395million to various medical institutions and research projects between 1998 and 2012.
In total, between the arts and medical fields, he is estimated to have donated between $1.2billion and $1.3billion of his fortune.
David married his wife, Julia, in 1996 and the couple have three children together. Pictured: David, his daughter Mary Julia Koch and his wife Julia Koch at Lincoln Center in May 2008
David was born in Wichita, Kansas, in May 1940 and is a twin; Bill Koch was born 19 minutes after he was.
He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The 6-foot-5 David played on the school’s basketball team, the Engineers, with Bill, and even once held the single-game scoring record of 41 points, reported The New York Times.
David joined Koch Industries, the company founded by his father, in 1970 as a technical-services manager.
At the time of his death, he and his brother, Charles each owned 42 percent of the company after buying out the shares of their brothers Bill and Frederick.
In 1996, David married Julia Flescher, a former Adolfo assistant, according to The Times.
Tributes were shared on Twitter on Friday morning after news broke of David’s death
Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul led tributes on Twitter on Friday morning.
‘RIP to a man who lived a life of liberty, peace and philanthropy,’ he wrote. ‘Great blessings being great responsibility, and David Koch lived that way. His many contributions will have lasting impact on our country. My thoughts are with his family today.’
The official Twitter page of Libertarian Party also shared condolences, writing: ‘Today, our 1980 nominee for Vice President David Koch passed away. Often a focal point of political debate, David spent much of his life contributing and working in his own way toward what he believed in: a freer world. #RIP #DavidKoch.’