In the largely testosterone-driven “I have more money than you do” game that makes up Wall Street wealth accumulation, there is an ever-growing wrinkle unfolding that might ultimately work towards the betterment of the planet: the race between tycoons to try to give away more money than the other guy. I’m not certain that this contest should include Bill Gates as he never seemed to play the wealth building game, rather he simply co-founded a company that rewrote the history of computing.

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Bill Gross’ letter to Carl Icahn

I am, however, talking about Bill Gross, Carl Icahn and others. Yesterday saw Bill Gross write a letter in which he urged Carl Icahn to concentrate his time on philanthropic pursuits rather than pushing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s CEO Tim Cook to increase the scope of Apple’s share buyback.

“By the way, I should spend more time like Bill Gates, too — we all should,” Gross, who runs the $250 billion Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTRX) at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, wrote in a message on Twitter today. “He and Melinda are great paragons.”

Money pledges

One could argue that Gross is well out of order. Icahn, who is ranked 33rd on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s richest people with a personal wealth of $21.7 billion, is a signatory on Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge which was founded to encourage the world’s richest to give the majority of their wealth to charity.

Just last year, Icahn pledged $200 million to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the biggest donation ever given to the New York City teaching hospital.

Bill Gross has an estimated wealth of over $2 billion and the 69-year-old has endowed a foundation with $293 million in assets and raised money for Doctors Without Borders. That money came from the partial sale of his stamp collection.

I can’t be the only person who finds the humor in this new way of measuring your wealth. Not in the accumulation of trappings such as yachts and helicopters but in a gladiatorial foundation contest. You can almost hear Michael Buffer’s iconic voice belting out, “Let’s get ready to reeeeeeeedistribute.”