Doris Duke, born 22 November 1912 in New York City, inherited a sizeable fortune from her father upon his death in 1925.

Throughout her life, Doris Duke enthusiastically pursued her varied interests.

Fascinated by different cultures, she gathered countless treasures on her worldwide excursions and acquired notable collections of Islamic and Southeast Asian art.

Established in 1996, the DDCF's activities are guided by the will of Doris Duke, who endowed the Foundation with financial assets that currently total $1.5 billion. It also oversees three properties that were owned by Doris Duke—Duke Farms ( in Hillsborough, New Jersey; Shangri La ( in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Rough Point ( in Newport, Rhode Island.

She was a lifelong environmentalist with a keen interest in conservation and horticulture. At Duke Farms, she designed elaborate greenhouse display gardens to reflect various regions of the world and opened them to the public in 1964.

Her interest in the performing arts was demonstrated not only by her patronage, but also by her participation as a jazz pianist and composer, a student of modern dance, and a singer with a gospel choir in New Jersey.

Although Doris Duke lived a private life, she contributed to a number of public causes. Throughout her life she was an active supporter of medical research and child welfare.

When she was just 21, she established a foundation, Independent Aid, which later became the Doris Duke Foundation. It is estimated that during her lifetime she gave away more than $400 million in current dollars, often as anonymous contributions.

Doris Duke died at age 80 in October 1993. In her will, she left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which was established in 1996.