T. Boone Pickens Has Died

The legendary oil tycoon, fund manager, and philanthropist is remembered in part for his Boone-isms, or sayings about life and business.

T. Boone Pickens (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

T. Boone Pickens

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

T. Boone Pickens, the legendary oil tycoon, has died at 91.

He passed away Wednesday, September 11 of natural causes while surrounded by friends and family, according to a statement on his website. Pickens had earlier suffered from a series of strokes followed by head injuries from a fall in 2017.

Born in a small town in Oklahoma in 1928, Pickens went on to make a fortune in the oil and gas industry and became a long-time resident of Texas. In 1957, he founded the company now known as Mesa Petroleum, and in 1997 he started BP Capital in Dallas. Pickens landed on Institutional Investor’s Rich List in 2008, earning $370 million from his hedge fund’s gains the previous year.

Toby Loftin, managing principal and portfolio manager at BP Capital Fund Advisors, said in a phone interview that he’s fortunate to have worked with Pickens for ten years.

“I count it as a blessing,” Loftin said. “He taught me a ton, not just about investing, but about life. I’m definitely grateful and I’ll miss him.”


Pickens is known for his sayings about life, or Boone-isms that captured his personality and way of thinking. His obituary cited several, including one on perseverance: “If you’re on the right side of the issue, just keep driving until you hear glass breaking. Don’t quit.”

Pickens pushed hard for the U.S. to wean itself from its oil addiction to gain energy independence. In 2008, he funded a $100 million grassroots campaign aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on OPEC oil, viewing it as a threat to economic and national security, according to the obituary.

Throughout his career, Pickens drew on a lesson he had received from his father as a college student when making insufficient progress. His father had said: “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius without one every time. We don’t see you have a plan.”

As part of his planning late in life, Pickens closed his Dallas-based hedge funds in December 2017, converting them to a family office, according to the obituary. He was also generous in his philanthropic endeavors, giving away almost $2 billion through matching initiatives.

“Nobody has done what Boone did,” Steve Taylor, retired Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, said in the obituary. “He wanted to enjoy the fun of giving away money, and seeing what happened with it. Scholarships. Football stadiums. Engineering schools. Hospitals.”