David Hamilton Koch


David Hamilton Koch (1940-2019) was an American businessman and philanthropist who, along with his older brother Charles, owned and ran Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. Koch Industries, which was founded by their father Fred C. Koch, is involved in a range of industries, including oil refining, chemicals, and paper products.

Early life

David Hamilton Koch was born in Wichita, Kansas to parents Mary Clementine and Fred Chase Koch. His grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper and was a founding shareholder of the Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway. David was the third of four sons, with elder brothers Frederick, Charles, and twin brother Bill, who was born nineteen minutes after him. Koch’s maternal ancestors included Episcopal bishop William Ingraham Kip, politician William Burnet Kinney, and writer Elizabeth Clementine Stedman.

Koch graduated from Deerfield Academy prep school in Massachusetts in 1959 and went on to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned both a Bachelor’s degree (1962) and a Master’s degree (1963) in chemical engineering. He was also a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. During his time at MIT, Koch played basketball and set the school record for single-game scoring of 41 points in 1962, which remained unbroken until 2009 when it was surpassed by Jimmy Bartolotta.


In 1970, David Koch started working as a technical-services manager for Koch Industries, under his brother Charles. He later became the president of his own division, Koch Engineering, which was later renamed Chemical Technology Group. Koch’s elder brothers, Frederick and Bill, had already inherited stock in Koch Industries.

David Koch held numerous leadership roles within Koch Industries, including executive vice president and member of the board of directors. He was also known for his philanthropy, having donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various causes over the years. In particular, he supported medical research, the arts, and libertarian political causes.

David Koch owned 42 percent of Koch Industries, as did his brother Charles, as of 2010. He also held four US patents. Koch was an executive vice president of Koch Industries until 2018 when he retired due to health issues. His retirement was officially announced on June 5, 2018.

Koch was a prominent conservative political donor and a supporter of various conservative and libertarian causes. He ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in the 1980 presidential election. He was also a major founder of the Tea Party movement and supported a number of Republican candidates and causes over the years.

Koch and Ed Clark formed the Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket in the 1980 election, with Koch as the vice-presidential nominee. The Clark-Koch platform aimed to eliminate various government programs, including Social Security, the Federal Reserve Board, minimum-wage laws, corporate taxes, and agricultural and business subsidies. Additionally, they aimed to abolish various federal agencies such as the SEC, EPA, ICC, FTC, OSHA, FBI, CIA, and DOE. The ticket received 921,128 votes, which was approximately 1% of the total nationwide vote, making it the Libertarian Party’s most successful campaign to that point. Charles Koch described the result as “pretty remarkable” given the movement’s political/ideological stance and previous election results.

Koch was a member of many boards and organizations, including the American Museum of Natural History, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital board of trustees, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center board of overseers. He passed away on August 23, 2019, at the age of 79.

David H. Koch made a pledge in July 2008 to donate $100 million to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in order to renovate the New York State Theater over the course of 10 years, which is the residence of the New York City Ballet. The New York Times reported that this contribution was transformational, as it facilitated a complete renovation of the stage, including a larger orchestra pit that can be elevated mechanically. As a result, the theater was renamed the David H. Koch Theater.

Koch also donated $10 million for the renovation of fountains located outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2008. He served as a trustee of the American Ballet Theatre for 25 years and donated more than $6 million to the organization. Additionally, Koch was a member of the Board of Trustees of WGBH-TV.

Net Worth

According to Forbes, David Hamilton Koch had a net worth of $60 billion at the time of his death in 2019. He was ranked as the 11th richest person in the world and the 7th richest person in the United States.


In 2008, he donated $100 million to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for the construction of a new building for ambulatory care.
He was a member of the board of trustees of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
In 2007, he donated $100 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the establishment of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
In 2008, he donated $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History for the renovation of the dinosaur exhibit.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
In 2016, he was awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.