How Anthony Bourdain Used Immense Wealth, High Profile to Champion Charitable Causes

Anthony Bourdain, an award-winning chef and author, was found dead from an apparent suicide in his hotel room in France on Friday, CNN confirmed. He was 61 years old.

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network, which hosted Bourdain's shows, said in a statement Friday morning. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

Through his television show, Bourdain traveled the world in an attempt to broaden the culinary horizons of millions of viewers. He said he rose from humble beginnings, starting out as a cook who made $40 cash per shift to a world-renowned chef with multiple reports claiming he built a $16 million personal empire. He said in an interview with WeathSimple, howeverthat those figures have been overreported. 

"The reports of my net worth are about ten times overstated," Bourdain wrote in a first-person essay. "I think the people who calculate these things assume that I live a lot more sensibly than I do. I mean, I don’t live recklessly—I have one car. But I don’t deprive myself simple pleasures. I’m not a haggler. There’s not enough time in the world. I tend to go for the quickest, easiest, what’s comfortable. I want it now. Time’s running out." 

He earned his money through at least a dozen cookbooks, many of which became best-sellers, as well as shows on CNN and touring. Despite his growing wealth, Bourdain said he wasn't drawn to financial incentives. He looked at money as a form of security, he wrote. 

"I’d like my daughter and her mom looked after, both while I’m alive and after," the author wrote. "They shouldn’t have to worry if something bad happens, so my investments and savings are based on that. I’m super-conservative. Money doesn’t particularly excite or thrill me; the making of money gives me no particular satisfaction." 

Bourdain, a friend to restaurants big and small, also championed several charitable causes. In 2016, he hosted the 14th Annual Taste the Best of NYC event, which benefited the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, a school that provides students with an alternative education focusing on writing and creativity. That same year, Bourdain partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to raise awareness on food waste through a documentary titled Wasted! The Story of Food Waste. The film aimed "to shed light on the grim numbers that show how much food is thrown away every year."

The star, whose sense of humor was a centerpiece of his television shows, also took a roasting from his colleagues to benefit charity during New York Wine and Food Festival. Diners paid $400 a plate to attend the event, according to HuffPost. 

The New York native also promoted causes that focused on LGBTQ representation in the city, and partnered with the Make-A-Wish foundation to help young people struggling with cancer. Hannah, a 16-year-old from Arizona with Hodgkin's lymphoma, wanted nothing more than to meet the acclaimed foodie, according to the foundation. 

“When I was first told about Make-A-Wish Arizona, I started thinking—if this is my bucket list, who would I think, ‘I’m so happy I had a chance to meet them’ when someone asked,” the teen said. “Anthony was on the top of my list.”

According to the teen, Bourdain more than delivered. 

“It was like a fantasy. The limo picked us up around noon and took us through the streets of New York. I don’t think it really hit me until I arrived at the restaurant and saw him,” said Hannah. "...“We were there for almost three hours but we never stopped talking.” 

This story and its headline have been updated with additional reporting.

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GettyImages-458820526 ost Athony Bourdain speaks on stage during the DC Central Kitchen's Capital Food Fight event at Ronald Reagan Building on November 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The chef and CNN host was found dead on Friday from an apparent suicide. Larry French/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen