A 2012 signatory of the Giving Pledge, Stanley was predeceased by his wife, Vada, in 2013. In 2014, Stanley, who made his fortune selling collectibles, awarded $650 million to establish the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The largest gift ever made in support of psychiatric research was inspired by the Stanleys' son, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while in college in 1988. Together, the Stanleys provided more than $1.2 billion for research on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, including $600 million to establish and develop the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
When he made the gift to the Broad Institute in 2014, he said, "I'm just turning over almost all my money, now and through my will, knowing with great certainty that they're the best equipped to know the best ways to spend it."