Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens dies at age 91

  • FILE - In this June 15, 2009, file photo, T. Boone Pickens, president of BP Capital Group, speaks at Time Warner's headquarters in New York. Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. He was 91. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Mark Lennihan

  • FILE - In this July 30, 2008, file photo, oil and gas developer T. Boone Pickens addresses a town hall meeting on energy independence in Topeka, Kan. Pickens, who amassed a fortune as an oil tycoon and corporate raider and gave much of it away as a philanthropist, has died. He was 91. Spokesman Jay Rosser confirmed Pickens' death Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) Charlie Riedel

  • FILE - In this Dec. 20, 1984, file photo, T. Boone Pickens, of Mesa Petroleum, speaks at the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York. Pickens, who amassed a fortune as an oil tycoon and corporate raider and gave much of it away as a philanthropist, has died. He was 91. Spokesman Jay Rosser confirmed Pickens' death Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/David Pickoff, File) David Pickoff

  • T. Boone Pickens

  • FILE - In this March 2, 2013, file photo, oil tycoon and Oklahoma State supporter T. Boone Pickens, center, celebrates with Oklahoma State's basketball team members Marcus Smart (33), Mason Cox (30), Le'Bryan Nash (2) and Alex Budke, right, following the team's win over Texas in an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla. Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. He was 91. (AP... Brody Schmidt

Associated Press
Published: 9/11/2019 3:24:01 PM

T. Boone Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday. He was 91.

Pickens was surrounded by friends and family when he died of natural causes under hospice care at his Dallas home, spokesman Jay Rosser said. Pickens suffered a series of strokes in 2017 and was hospitalized that July after what he called a “Texas-sized fall.”

An only child who grew up in a small railroad town in Oklahoma, Pickens followed his father into the oil and gas business. After just three years, he formed his own company and built a reputation as a maverick, unafraid to compete against oil-industry giants.

In the 1980s, Pickens switched from drilling for oil to plumbing for riches on Wall Street. He led bids to take over big oil companies including Gulf, Phillips and Unocal, castigating their executives as looking out only for themselves while ignoring the shareholders.

Even when Pickens and other so-called corporate raiders failed to gain control of their targets, they scored huge payoffs by selling their shares back to the company and dropping their hostile takeover bids.

Later in his career, Pickens championed renewable energy including wind power. He argued that the United States needed to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. He sought out politicians to support his “Pickens Plan,” which envisioned an armada of wind turbines across the middle of the country that could generate enough power to free up natural gas for use in vehicles.

“I’ve been an oilman all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of,” he said in 2009.

Pickens’s advocacy for renewable energy led to some unusual alliances. He had donated to many Republican candidates since the 1980s, and in the 2004 presidential campaign he helped bankroll television ads by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry. A few years later, Pickens endorsed a Kerry proposal to limit climate change.

Pickens couldn’t duplicate his oil riches in renewable en ergy. In 2009, he scrapped plans for a huge Texas wind farm after running into difficulty getting transmission lines approved, and eventually his renewables business failed.

“It doesn’t mean that wind is dead,” Pickens said at the time. “It just means we got a little bit too quick off the blocks.”

In 2007, Forbes magazine estimated Pickens’s net worth at $3 billion. He eventually slid below $1 billion and off the magazine’s list of wealthiest Americans. In 2016, the magazine put his worth at $500 million.




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