David Koch: Billionaire Republican donor dies after long battle with prostate cancer

23 August 2019, 16:17 | Updated: 23 August 2019, 17:34

Billionaire industrialist David Koch, one of the world's richest people and a staunch supporter of conservative causes, has died aged 79.

He had fought a long battle with prostate cancer and "will be greatly missed, but never forgotten," his elder brother Charles said.

"Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life," he added.

"27 years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years 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.

"We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result".

The siblings were worth $58.7 billion (£48bn) each, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, putting them 7th and 8th on the list of the world's richest people.

Their vast wealth came from their joint running of Koch Industries, the oil refining business their father started and which they expanded into chemicals, biofuels, pipelines, commodities trading, ranching, fertilizer and paper.

Mr Koch, a former college basketball star, donated more than $1bn (£820m) in his lifetime.

Among the recipients of his generosity were medical facilities, art and natural history museums and the New York City Ballet.

The brothers also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on supporting conservative causes and Republican political candidates.

Fierce critics of Democratic president Barack Obama, they helped finance the Tea Party movement, set up following his 2008 election win.

But they were no fans of Donald Trump and his protectionist trade policies either, backing his rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and failing to donate to his ultimately successful campaign.

In 1980, Mr Koch tried and failed to become vice president, promising to abolish income taxes, minimum wage laws, government regulatory agencies, the Social Security retirement program, the FBI and the CIA.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992, Mr Koch had radiation treatment, surgery and hormone therapy, afterwards donating hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where both he and Charles studied engineering.

The pair spent two decades fighting court battles after David's twin Bill and another brother, Frederick, accused David and Charles of cheating them out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The dispute was eventually settled in 2001.

Mr Koch's wife Julia, whom he married in 1996, described him as a father whose "sensitive heart had him shed a tear at the beauty of his daughter's ballet, and beam with pride when his son beat him at chess"

She added: "We will miss the fifth link in our family."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children.