Texas oilman, investor, and conservative philanthropist T. Boone Pickens has died at his home in Dallas. He was 91.
A swashbuckling character who was known as a hostile takeover specialist but also an advocate for shareholders, he was always ready with a colorful quip. “My I.Q. is the gas price,” he said in 1982. “At $3 I’m a genius. At $1.50 I’m a moron. Don’t talk to me too fast; it’s at $1.53 today.”
Born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, Pickens made his fortune in the oil industry, his work culminating in his founding the energy hedge fund BP Capital. A former billionaire, his wife when he died was estimated at $500 million. Last year, In 2018, he sold his Gulfstream jet and listed his 68,000-acre ranch for sale for $250 million.
Pickens, known as “the Oracle of Oil,” donated more than $1 billion to various charities, with over half of those funds going to Oklahoma State University, his alma mater.
He signed on to “The Giving Pledge,” launched by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The pledge calls on the wealthiest Americans to give away the majority of their wealth, either in their lifetimes or after their deaths.
Pickens was also known for his “Pickens Plan,” a self-funded campaign to end America’s dependence on OPEC oil. He hoped to encourage the United States to adopt energy alternatives, such as wind, solar, and natural gas.
“I began my crusade during the 2008 presidential campaign because I felt that it was necessary to refocus America’s attention on the need for energy independence from OPEC oil. Eleven years later, the current state of U.S. energy is stronger than ever,” Pickens said in a statement released on the 11th anniversary of the Pickens Plan launch. “However, more needs to be done,” he added.
An avid fan of OSU’s football team, Pickens penned a letter to the fans in August where he acknowledged his age. He said he would continue supporting the team “as long as I can.”
“At 91, I’m grateful for every added day, week, month, and year,” Pickens wrote. “However I’m realistic about being close to the finish line. And I’m working diligently to complete projects as quickly as I can and tie up any loose ends.”
“Five years ago, as grand marshal of OSU’s homecoming, I knocked out pushups on the ROTC’s pushup board. Now walking 50 yards to my suite is a challenge. And when I do it, I feel just as triumphant,” Pickens added.
Pickens is survived by his wife, Toni, five children, and 11 grandchildren. There are plans for memorial services in both Dallas and Stillwater, Oklahoma. He will be buried at Karsten Creek Golf Club, home to the OSU golf team.