A longtime maverick in the US energy industry, Pickens began a campaign in 2008 to help the US lessen its dependence on oil from OPEC nations.
In 2007, he had unveiled a proposal for a large wind farm project. The plan failed, mainly due to a steep drop in natural gas prices that made wind and other sources of renewable energy more expensive. “I lost $150 million in the wind business,” he complained at a 2015 SALT investor conference.
Pickens rose to prominence in the 1980s as a so-called corporate raider, making several big investments in oil companies with the hopes of forcing executives to make big changes to boost shareholder value.
Still, he was a major philanthropist.
Pickens is survived by five children, 11 grandchildren and “an increasing number of great-grandchildren,” according to the obituary on his site.
“It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride,” he wrote last year. “I’ve seen oil prices bounce around from $10 a barrel up to $147, down to $26 and now appear to be inching up ever so slowly. I’m ecstatic that I’ve hung on long enough to see it all unfold.”
— CNN Business’ Matt Egan contributed to this report.