06.18.10 12:22 AM ET
The World’s 12 Richest Dogs
Juice, Minter, and Callum
Alexander McQueen's dogs are set for life. The late fashion designer willed $82,000 to each of his three English bull terriers, Juice, Minter, and Callum in his will, which has just been made public. He also gave almost $165,000 to both the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross Animal Welfare Charity. Other charities to get a portion of his $26 million will were the Terrence Higgins Trust, which promotes safe sex, the London Buddhist Center, and his own Sarabande charity. McQueen committed suicide last year at the age of 40.
Mystery and accusations may be swirling around, but all Conchita knows is that now she's very rich. On second thought, she probably doesn't—she's a Chihuahua. The only Chihuahua in the world, in fact, with a $3 million trust fund and an $8.3 million mansion in Miami Beach. She inherited the fortune from her owner Gail Posner, the daughter of the takeover master Victor Posner, after she died in March. But after noticing that some $26 million were also left to her housekeepers, Ms. Posner's only living child, Bret Carr, isn't convinced that this is what his mother really wanted. He says his mother's aides drugged her and forced her to change her will, so he is suing all of them, according to The Wall Street Journal. Conchita certainly has high standards—in an interview last year, Posner said she considered buying her pet her own Range Rover and that the dog's favorite bauble was a Cartier necklace valued at $15,000.
Trouble certainly lived up to her name in 2007 when she inherited a $12 million trust fund from her owner, New York real-estate mogul Leona Helmsley. It only became a problem when it emerged that Helmsley, who was not known for her friendly side, had written two of her four grandchildren out of her will—and yet still included the Maltese. (The dog also apparently took after her "Queen of Mean" owner and bit people on several occasions.) It took a judge's decision for the grandchildren to receive an inheritance and for Trouble's trust fund to be reduced to $2 million.
The Roddenberry Dogs
When Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of the creator of Star Trek and the voice of the computer on the USS Enterprise, died in 2009, she took care of any potentially angry relatives in her will first. Her son inherited $100 million and then her dogs picked up a cool $4 million, a mansion, and an appointed caretaker. In all likelihood, some of the funds also went to the plan she and her husband, Gene Roddenberry, devised for their ashes before he died in 1991—they wanted their remains shot into orbit.
Tina and Kate
Nora Hardwell's three great loves were gardening, poetry, and her dogs. The former secretary from England had no children, no other relatives, and a hefty amount of money in her savings. So when she died in 2002, she left nearly $1 million "for the maintenance of any dog or dogs which I may own at my death for the period of 21 years from the date of my death or until the death of my last of my dogs if earlier." For Tina and Kate, the pair of collie mixes that outlived their owner, it was plenty.
Oil heiress Eleanor Ritchey had a tendency to accumulate things. By the time she died in 1968, she had more than 1,700 pairs of shoes and more than 150 stray dogs. Auburn University stood to greatly benefit from her death, but they would have to wait. Auburn would collect some $12 million, including 113,328 shares of Quaker Oil common stock, real estate, bonds, and Treasury bills only if it used an additional $4.2 million of Ritchey's to take care of all the dogs for the rest of their lives and support research on canine diseases. Just to make sure the university held up its end of the bargain, the will stated the university would not be able to collect the $12 million until the last dog died. It took 16 years before the last survivor, a mutt named Musketeer, expired.
Built in the 19th century, the Wendel farmhouse on 39th Street and Fifth Avenue was an oddity in New York. When the last of the elder Wendel's daughters, Ella, died in 1931, her $35 million estate drew 2,303 mostly made-up claims. But during the last years of her life, she lived in the house alone with her pampered poodle Tobey because, she said, he still needed a place to play. And it was Tobey who remained in the house after she died while her estate was being settled. Though he did not technically inherit it, he was the direct beneficiary of her death since he continued to live there with two servants of his own.
The tale of Gunther IV sounds almost too outrageous to be real—and it's possible it isn't. Gunther IV, a German shepherd, inherited a fortune of at least $65 million from his father Gunther III, who had been the sole heir of a German countess named Karlotta Liebenstein who died in 1992. Since then, someone acting on behalf of Gunther IV bought a $9 million Miami villa from Madonna in 2000. Later that year, Gunther, with help from a pair of caretakers, paid more than $1,500 to buy a rare white truffle at auction. But it seems that the law firm in the Bahamas, which supposedly handles his financial affairs, has only the sketchiest of details to provide about him.
In what is one of the earliest instances of a dog inheriting a vast sum of money, Anne E. Dier left her dog Fannie the better part of a $25,000 estate in 1909. Technically, it was left to a couple in Buffalo with the stipulation that most of it be spent on Fannie. For Mrs. Dier's husband, the will added insult to injury. He had shot her to death.
Sidney Altman's girlfriend, Marie Dana, had a right to be upset when she saw Altman's will. After he died in 1998, sitting on a fortune earned distributing upscale bathroom fixtures, it turned out that he had left a $6 million estate to someone named Samantha. Perhaps more insulting than if she'd been another woman, Samantha was Altman's cocker spaniel. So Dana, who became the dog's legal guardian, sued for $2.7 million, arguing that his will was "stale" and did not reflect her importance in his life, since he had written it four years before his death.
Jasper and Jason
Brewery heiress Diana Myburgh first adopted Jasper, an illegitimate Labrador Doberman cross from a dog shelter. And she cared for him, along with a whippet named Jason, until she died at age 74 in 1995. Each of them inherited £25,000—with Jasper collecting Jason's share when he died. And, miraculously, no one was outraged that she bequeathed money to her pets. In fact, quite the contrary. Her former son-in-law, Sir Benjamin Slade, was left in charge of managing the money for Jasper, who lived in a country mansion. He more than tripled it in the stock market, according to the Daily Mail. Slade's salary for taking care of Jasper is £11, paid out from the dog's account.
Despite his relatives contesting his will all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court, G.S. Richberg's American pit bull finally received an inheritance in 1948. Much to his family's chagrin, Richberg, a Memphis barber, had left Dixie a $4,500 estate to be paid out in $35 increments every month for the rest of the dog's life. Dixie was 8 years old at the time of his owner's death—and continued to receive his allowance.