How does it feel knowing there are cats and dogs that have more money than you might make in a lifetime?
Some eccentric pet owners have planned well in advance for the care of their furry loved ones after their passing, bestowing huge inheritances so they can continue to live in the luxury to which they’ve become accustomed.
Many have left more to their pets than their own families.
The Cocker Spaniel Worth $6 Million
Logic dictates that if you plan to leave your dog $6 million dollars, you shouldn’t expect your girlfriend of 6 years to be happy if you leave her a mere $60,000/year allowance solely to take care of the pet and then evict her upon its death.
But that’s precisely what Sidney Altman did in his will.
His cocker spaniel Samantha was clearly the man’s best friend, but that didn’t stop his girlfriend Marie Dana from suing the estate for more than $2 million.
She claimed the will was “stale” by the time Stanley died, though it was quite clear:
“My primary concern is to protect my loving companion, my dog Samantha, and I do not wish her to suffer major change in her life.”
“On the decease of my dog, the arrangement with Marie Dana is canceled.”
The matter was settled out of court, but Dana did love and care for the dog until its death.
The Roddenberry Pets
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of Star-Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, left $4 million to her pets when she passed away in 2008.
She also left $1 million to her pet’s caretaker, Reinelda Estupinian, was allowed to live at the family mansion in order to care for the animals.
While the will did not state the breeds, names, or ages of the pets, it’s clear that she had both cats and dogs to care for and wrote in her will:
“Reinelda did an excellent job of caring for my animals (giving them comparable or better care than that which I gave them during my lifetime).”
But don’t worry, the Roddenberry’s son inherited plenty, including the family’s Bel Air mansion (which, presumably, he’s sharing with his animal brothers and sisters), $60 million, and $10 million birthday gifts at the ages of 35, 40 and 45.
The $400 Million German Shepherd
This is Gunther, the ridiculously rich German Shepherd.
To make matters more ridiculous, Gunther is actually Gunther IV, who inherited his money from his father, Gunther III, also a German Shepherd.
How does this happen, you ask?
Well, Gunther III’s owner, the late German countess Karlotta Leibenstein, left her vast fortune of $80 million to her canine companion.
Somehow he couldn’t spend it all, so it continues to be passed on through the canine family under a mysterious group known as The Burgundians.
In 2000, Gunther IV’s financial advisors bought Madonna’s Miami mansion to add to his real estate portfolio, which already included properties in Italy and the Bahamas.
Gunther IV is estimated to be worth between $200-$400 million.
And for some strange reason, he has a reputation for being high maintenance.
$12 Million Worth of Trouble
Leona Helmsley might have been known as the “Queen of Mean” when she died in 2008, but she sure loved her dog.
Her will provided $12 million for the care of her Maltese Terrier, Trouble.
People were so offended that she left a fortune to her dog instead of the less fortunate (or even her 2 grandsons, who were entirely absent from the will) that a judge trimmed the inheritance down to a mere $2 million.
Trouble lived to be 12 years old and received dozens of death and kidnapping threats. Helmsley’s family refused to care for her, so Trouble was transported by private jet from New York to Sarasota under an alias to live out her days in the Florida sun.
Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel ended up caring for her to the tune of $60,000 a year and weaning her off a diet of hand-fed crab cakes, cream cheese, and steamed vegetables with chicken.
Lekic estimated that Trouble’s yearly expenses were roughly $190,000, even once she had transitioned to mere dog food. She was also a bit of a biter.
Black Cats That Had All the Luck
Blackie was once the richest cat in the world, who inherited roughly $12.5 million 1988 when his owner Ben Rea divided his fortune between his pet and several cat charities (leaving nothing to his family).
Amazingly, Blackie is not the only black cat to inherit over $10 million.
Tommaso was originally a stray found in Rome and taken in by an elderly Italian woman named Maria Assunta. Assunta’s former nurse Stafania promised her that she would care for the cat after her employer passed away, having no idea that the woman had amassed a $13 million fortune to leave to her feline companion.
Tommaso’s fortune included cash, shares, and a real estate portfolio with flats and houses in Rome and Milan as well as land in Calabria.
Miami heiress Gail Posner left a $3 million trust fund and her mansion in Miami Beach to her beloved dogs Conchita, April Maria, and Lucia when she passed away at the age of 67 in 2010. Her favorite dog, a chihuahua named Conchita, had already become used to being pampered to the tune of about $8,000 a month with spa days and private club lunches.
Her bodyguards, housekeepers, and other personal aides were bequeathed a total of $26 million and some also were allowed to live, rent-free, in the mansion to care for the dogs.
This was all too much for Posner’s son, who inherited a measly $1 million in the will, and sued her estate. He accused his mother’s staff of drugging her and influencing her into changing her will while she was ill in 2008.
Carr (and the whole Posner family, for that matter) had a rather troubled reputation and it’s not clear how or whether the lawsuit has been decided.
World’s Richest Chicken
At the point, it feels like nothing could possibly be a surprise until you see that someone left a fortune to a chicken.
Gigoo, the British chicken, inherited $15 million in 2002 when her owner, publishing tycoon Miles Blackwell, died just a few weeks after her wife. The couple had no children and left tens of millions to animal charities as well.
Just like the Gunther lineage of German Shepherds, the fortune has been passed down to Gigoo’s chicks. We can only hope that chickens have some sense of luxury.
The Cat That Earned Her Own Millions
Karl Lagerfeld isn’t known for being super delightful to be around and neither is his cat Choupette.
According to Lagerfeld, Choupette “hates other animals and she hates children. She stays always with me and she has two personal maids.”
She also reportedly earned $3.3 million last year, thanks to a modeling gig with German car company Vauxhall Corsa and Japanese beauty company Shu Uemura.
Of course, Lagerfeld is still alive, so Choupette lives in luxury with her owner and it would be unfair to speculate what she might inherit if she outlives her owner (though since she has her own fortune, she shouldn’t worry too much).
Oprah might release a list of her favorite things every year, but we know her dogs are very much near the top of her private list.
Her self-proclaimed “fur children” include two golden retrievers, Luke and Layla, a cocker spaniel named Sadie, and springer spaniels named Sunny and Lauren.
It’s no surprise that she’ll want her dogs cared for in the event that something happens to her, so rumors surfaced in 2008 that she set up a trust for them worth $30 million. Pocket change for the billionaire media maven.
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