Richard Cunniff, vice chairman of the Sequoia Fund, which he founded with William Ruane and has outperformed market benchmarks for much of its 44-year history, has died. He was 91

He died March 23 at his home in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., according to his son, Richard Cunniff Jr. The cause was complications from congestive heart failure.

Cunniff and Ruane, who died in 2005, studied under famed value investor Benjamin Graham, and many of their earliest clients were referred to them by Warren Buffett. The fund had $8.4 billion under management as of Dec. 31 and is known for taking big stakes in a few companies and holding the shares for many years.

“Rick was a rigorous stock analyst, patient teacher, and a true gentleman,” David Poppe, president of Manhattan-based Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb, which manages Sequoia Fund, said in an e-mailed statement. Sequoia beat 99 percent of rival funds over the past three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. During the past quarter century, the fund has beaten the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by almost 3 percentage points annually.