NEW YORK (ABC News) -- A hedge fund tycoon who gave away his fortune before committing suicide this week was praised today as a "legend" who "had a passion to get things done in the world."
Robert Wilson, 87, jumped to his death off The San Remo apartment building, a prestigious New York City address on Central Park West.
In the years before his death, he pledged to give away his entire fortune - some $800 million.
"Robert W. Wilson was a Wall Street legend who became a prominent philanthropist," said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Wilson donated $100 million to the organization and challenged others to donate more, Krupp said.
"Bob had a passion to get things done in the world. Widely read and blessed with a keen intellect, he had the ability to predict where the world was going, a talent that informed his investments and, in later years, his philanthropy," Krupp said.
Krupp said that Wilson built up his own portfolio on Wall Street before stepping up his philanthropic work, "with the aim of bestowing his fortune during his lifetime."
"Initially skeptical of the science of climate change, he quickly came to regard it as a critical challenge. He wanted carbon pollution cut in an efficient and sensible way, knowing that for a solution to be environmentally sustainable, it must also be economically sustainable."
Wilson also donated his money to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
"Bob helped EDF grow with a pivotal $100 million challenge grant that inspired scores of others to increase their own giving. I am personally grateful to Bob for his leadership and support over many years."
Representatives from the Archdiocese, the WMF, the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society did not immediately provide comment to ABC News.
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