Here's Who Inherited John D Rockefeller's Money After He Died

Rockefeller Center in New York City is perhaps one of the most well-known parts of the Big Apple. It is home to the Comcast building, which houses production for shows like the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. The sitcom "30 Rock" is actually named after this location too, as its address is 30 Rockefeller Plaza. During the winter, Rockefeller Center features an annual televised Christmas tree lighting with a massive real tree located right by the Center's ice skating rink. 

The man after which this complex was named was John D. Rockefeller. His business practices led to nationwide changes in how business is conducted, including its limitations. He rose to prominence during the Gilded Age, a time in American history that has recently inspired an HBO drama by the same name. This was a time of big business in the U.S. and Rockefeller is perhaps the biggest name from the era.

Rockefeller created Standard Oil in the 1870s. As a savvy yet ruthless businessman, Rockefeller monopolized the oil industry in the U.S. By purchasing so many other oil companies and doing secret team-ups with railroad companies for his shipments, he left little competition in the industry (via Smithsonian). Such a phenomenon still sparks debates regarding capitalism's pros and cons.

John D. Rockefeller donated millions over his lifetime

Growing distaste for monopolies in business led to government laws preventing them from occurring, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. However, John D. Rockefeller managed to send properties of his trust to different states in order to avoid these crackdowns. Even still, the Supreme Court stepped in. The Court deemed Standard Oil's practices as illegal but not before Rockefeller became the richest person in the United States. He was so wealthy that the Smithsonian declares him to be "the richest person to ever live" with a fortune totaling $900 million.

Rockefeller may not seem like a good guy at this point in his story. What he did with his fortune, however, may put him in a more positive light. He went from the richest man in the world to the biggest philanthropist in the world. He gave away around $874 million by the time he passed away at 97 years old. He was brutal to small oil companies, but notoriously kind to his employees and stated that it was his duty to use his money "for the good" (via The Hustle).

If he put so much money toward philanthropic endeavors, did he leave any for his family to inherit?

Rockefeller and his son commissioned Rockefeller Center

John D. Rockefeller left his money to his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who went into the family business on the philanthropy side. Both father and son were behind creating the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the General Education Board largely dedicated to public school funding, and the aforementioned Rockefeller Center. After his father passed, he continued donating money, including to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and housing in low-income areas of New York City (via Britannica).

The money did not end with John D. Rockefeller, Jr. His father set up a trust to last throughout further generations. Into the 21st century, male descendants of John D. Rockefeller and other high-up trustees dictate the money's use. Annual stipends go to his heirs. As of 2022, David Rockefeller, Jr. is a chair at Rockefeller & Co., which is where most of the fortune resides. He is John D. Rockefeller's great-grandson. Other holding spaces for the money have JP Morgan Chase as a trustee (via Fox Business).

John D. Rockefeller's descendants continued his legacy

It is safe to say that John D. Rockefeller did not keep all of his eggs in one basket, nor did he intend that for his descendants. However, money from 100 years ago is bound to dwindle as it goes through generation after generation of use, especially given that there are now 150 Rockefeller relatives. This amount of descendants and the countless trusts used to manage the wealth make it hard to track to whom all the money has gone over the last century (via Fox Business).

In 2018, CNBC reported that one of the oldest Rockefellers, David D. Rockefeller, Jr., grew up quite normally. He explained that his parents (including his father, grandson of John D. Rockefeller) did not discuss money with him as a child. Though he grew up in a wealthy part of Manhattan, the family emphasized charitable contributions and keeping records of one's money. In true Rockefeller fashion, he has kept this mindset close to his heart and contributed to various environmental causes over the decades, including support for farmers and oceanic conservation.