John Eleuthère du Pont Biography

John Eleuthère du Pont was an American philanthropist and heir to the Du Pont family fortune. This biography profiles his childhood, life, activities and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: November 22, 1938

Nationality: American

Famous: American Men University Of Miami

Died At Age: 72

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Also Known As: John Eleuthere du Pont, John E. Du Pont

Born in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Famous as: Philanthropist

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Spouse/Ex-: Gale Wenk

father: William du Pont Jr.

Died on: December 9, 2010

place of death: State Correctional Institution – Laurel Highlands

U.S. State: Pennsylvania

Founder/Co-Founder: Delaware Museum of Natural History

More Facts

education: University of Miami, University of Pennsylvania, Haverford School

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John Eleuthère du Pont was someone who can’t be easily categorized. The heir to the Du Pont family, one of the members of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans, Du Pont is more famously known for his philanthropy and sports enthusiasm. He was a self-styled wrestling coach and the founder of the wrestling academy at the Foxcatcher Farm. He supported the pentathlon and amateur sports in the US and sponsored the USA wrestling. Apart from being a sports enthusiast, he had expertise in ornithology, philately, Conchology and had published books in these areas of learning. He was also the founder and director of the Delaware Museum of Natural History. His eccentric behavior started catching eyes, around the time when Du Pont turned 60. He became increasingly disruptive and paranoid, which led to him murdering Dave Schultz, an Olympic gold medalist freestyle wrestler. He shot Schultz at the driveway of the latter’s residence, inside du Pont’s estate. The court declared him as not insane and the verdict was ‘guilty but mentally ill’. Du Pont was sentenced to prison for 13-30 years. He was 72 years of age when he died, inside the prison. His life is portrayed in the 2014 film ‘Foxcatcher’.

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Childhood & Early Life
Later Life & Career
  • Du Pont had been part of several scientific expeditions, in the Phillippines and South Pacific, as a part of his graduate work. During the course of this, he discovered about 16 species of birds.
  • In 1957, he founded the Delaware Museum of Natural History. He served for a long period as the director of this institute.
  • In 1980, he bought the British Guiana 1856 1c black on magenta, which is one of the rarest stamps in the world.
  • By 1986, he started taking active interest in wrestling. When Villanova University dropped his wrestling program , he built a wrestling facility along with a training center at his Newtown Square estate.
  • The estate was renamed as Foxcatcher Farm and the instruction center was called the Foxcather National Training center, after his father’s thoroughbred racing stable. The center, built in 1988, catered to the world’s greatest wrestling talents. He also let famous wrestlers like Mark Schultz and his older brother Dave Schultz live inside the estate.
  • Du Pont used to promote a division of the modern pentathlon which involved the run-swim-shoot practice.
  • In his 50s, he started training as a wrestler and went on to take part in the 1992 Veteran’s World Championships in Cali, Colombia, the 1993 championship in Toronto, Ontario, the 1994 in Rome, Italy and the 1995 championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Murder of Dave Schultz & Final Years
  • On January 26, 1996, John Eleuthère du Pont shot three bullets into Dave Schultz, the coach of his wrestling team, thereby killing him. The witnesses to the crime were Schultz’s wife and the head of Pont’s security.
  • Following the incident, du Pont locked himself inside his place. The police could arrest him when he came outside to repair his heater.
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  • The police could not find out a motive for the crime. On September 1996, du Pont was declared as ‘psychotic’ and so he could not partake in his own defense. He was admitted to a mental hospital for the next three months. however, the insanity defense was not taken by the court.
  • On February 25, 1997, the jury found him guilty even though mentally ill. He was sentenced to 13 to 20 years of imprisonment because of third degree murder.
  • Du Pont was committed to the state Correctional Institution-Mercer in the Pennsylvania prison system.
Major Works
  • John du Pont is the author of 3 books on Ornithology: ‘Philippine Birds’ (19710, ‘South Pacific Birds’ (1976) and ‘Living Volutes’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • On September 3, 1983, du Pont married Gale Wenl, a 29 year old occupational therapist. Within 10 months of the marriage, du Pont filed for divorce.
  • His wife claimed that du Pont had been physically violent and had even tried to kill her. The divorce was finalized in 1987.
  • In December 1988, a lawsuit was filed against him which claimed that he had made inappropriate sexual advances towards Andre Metzger, the assistant coach of his Villanova wrestling program.
  • On December 9, 2010, du Pont died from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He was 72 years of age.
  • He was buried in his red Foxcatcher wrestling singlet, as stated in his will.
Net worth:
  • In 1987, it was estimated that John du Pont’s net worth was $200 million.
  • Du Pont had been the subject of the book ‘Wrestling with Madness’ , Mark Schultz’s ‘Foxcatcher: the true sory of my brother’s murder’ along with films like ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘The Prince of Pennsylvania’.
  • Apart from the Delaware Museum of Natural History, du Pond had also helped in the funding of a basketball arena (The Pavillion) at the Villanova University which was opened in 1986.

See the events in life of John Eleuthère Du Pont in Chronological Order

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- John Eleuthère du Pont Biography
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Last Updated
- January 09, 2018
John Eleuthère du Pont

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