Paul Allen, the multi-billionaire co-founder of Microsoft whose interests spread into sports, music and yachting, has died aged 65 following complications from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Allen had recently revealed that the disease had returned, though he said at the time that he and his doctors were “optimistic” about treatment. He received treatment for the condition in 2009, and was first diagnosed in 1983.
In a statement, fellow Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said, “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends... personal computing would not have existed without him. He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.”
"Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends," Allen’s sister Jody added in a separate statement. "At this time of loss and grief for us - and so many others - we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day."
Although Allen co-founded the tech titan alongside school friend Gates in 1975, he departed the corporation just eight years later in 1983 following the first diagnosis of the blood cancer which ultimately claimed his life.
In the years that followed Allen recovered and was able to pursue other ventures, including the formation of media and communications investment firm Vulcan, and retained stocks in Microsoft. He also owned both the Superbowl-winning Seattle Seahawks NFL team and the Portland Trail Blazers NBA squad, and had a sizeable stake in Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders.
In addition, the self-described “ideas man” – who is believed to have given Microsoft its moniker and also devised the two-button mouse, and also held 42 patents – donated upwards of $2 billion to charitable causes throughout his life, supporting philanthropic projects in the worlds of science, education and wildlife conservation.
Allen was also an ardent collector of Second World War hardware, and had a keen interest in the aerospace industry, purportedly due to a continued love of adventure stories from his youth. A luxury Boeing 757-200 jet, purchased in 1995 for Allen’s private use, was sold to now-US President Donald Trump in 2010 – and was dubbed Trump Force One.
Allen’s well-documented, varied passions also notably included yachting and sea exploration. The 126-metre (414-foot) Lürssen-built explorer yacht Octopus, arguably his most famous vessel, included a swimming pool, a pair of helipads, a cinema, a basketball court and accommodation for dozens of guests – as well as a submarine with space for up to 10 more. It was the location for a number of notorious afterparties when it was in Cannes for the film festival, and also featured a recording studio for the avid blues-rock musician to jam in and cut ideas to tape.
Allen also owned 92-metre (303-foot) superyacht Tatoosh, built by Nobiskrug, and a research vessel named Petrel.
Although the entrepreneur indulged in luxury – he had an enviable property portfolio as well as a jaw-dropping array of artworks by the likes of Monet, Rothko and Rodin – Allen’s altruistic pursuits often overshadowed other areas of his life.
Octopus was made a member of a global programmed used to assist maritime authorities in emergencies, and has been loaned for rescue and research expeditions many times. Petrel has been used to seek Second World War wrecks, and has located the likes of the USS Indianapolis, the USS Juneau, and the USS Lexington, as well as the ships lost during the Battles of Surigao Strait and Ormoc Bay.
Allen’s net worth was as much as $26 billion at the time of his passing; in 2010 he pledged to donate most of this to good causes upon his death.