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Hilton pledges $2.3 billion to charity

December 27, 2007 14:03 IST

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton's mega-rich grandfather has bequeathed $2.3 billion or 97 per cent of his net worth to charity, sharply diminishing her chances to cash in on the family fortune.

Barron Hilton, 80, is giving the money to the Conrad N Hilton Foundation, a charity founded by his father in 1944. The contribution, which is to come from the sale of Hilton Hotels Corp. and the pending sale of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. after the money is placed in a trust, is the largest in the foundation's history and will bring its value to about $4.5 billion.

"We are all exceedingly proud and grateful for this extraordinary commitment," Hilton's son Steven M Hilton, president and chief executive of the organisation, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Working to alleviate human suffering around the globe, regardless of race, religion or geography, is the mandate of the foundation set by my grandfather . . . and now reinforced by my father."

Barron Hilton, chairman of the foundation, pledged an immediate $1.2 billion donation to the foundation, with an estimated $1.1 billion to follow after his death, according to media reports.

In keeping with Conrad Hilton's directive that the foundation be global in its reach, more than 50 per cent of its grants annually are directed to international initiatives. The foundation concentrates most of its funding on major long-term projects that will affect systemic change.

The Hilton hotel chain consists of over 500 hotels around the world. The family name has become gossip column fodder in recent years with the sex tape, red carpet antics and jail time of socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton.

The foundation has been a pioneer in providing water and sanitation systems for villagers in developing countries; supportive housing for mentally ill homeless and homeless mothers and children in the US; blindness prevention and treatment worldwide; drug abuse prevention among youth; and early childhood education for children with disabilities.

Since its inception, the foundation has committed more than $560 million to charitable work throughout the world.

The Conrad N Hilton Humanitarian Prize, now in its 12th year, is the largest humanitarian award in the world at $1.5 million and is given annually to a charitable organisation that is doing extraordinary work in relieving suffering.

Meenakshi Ganjoo in Silicon Valley
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