Meet the Scions Who Inherited Riches But Ended Up With Rags Owing to Financial Blunders

Meet the Scions Who Inherited Riches But Ended Up With Rags Owing to Financial Blunders
Getty Images | Photo by Bettmann

GREEN DICE DIE 4 FOUR 3 THREE 7 SEVEN | Getty Images | Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts
GREEN DICE DIE 4 FOUR 3 THREE 7 SEVEN | Getty Images | Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts

 

From renowned television personalities to heirs of industrial empires and royal scions, their lives were marked by opulence, extravagant spending, and unforeseen challenges. But inheritances that could have secured lifetimes of comfort and prosperity were instead squandered in the pursuit of lavish lifestyles, ill-fated investments, and personal vices. Take a look at tales of financial decline, that serve as cautionary reminders of the intricate relationship between wealth, responsibility, and the human condition.

Clarissa Dickson Wright 

Clarissa Dickson Wright | Getty Images | Photo by Colin McPherson
Clarissa Dickson Wright | Getty Images | Photo by Colin McPherson

 

Clarissa Dickson Wright, renowned for her later TV series "Two Fat Ladies," faced a significant turning point towards the end of the '70s. Following her mother's passing, she inherited a substantial sum of approximately $3.4 million, while she held a well-paying role as an attorney in London. However, the emotional toll of losing her mother, coupled with her father's subsequent death, plunged her into a profound depression. To cope with her grief, she turned to alcohol, setting the stage for a series of financial missteps. She indulged in lavish spending on luxury yachts, private jets, and opulent hotels, and by 1982, her excessive partying and reckless expenditures had eroded her financial cushion. Her party-centric lifestyle became a barrier to her legal career, and soon she found herself homeless.

Tori Spelling

Tori Spelling in New York City | Getty Images | Photo by Santiago Felipe
Tori Spelling in New York City | Getty Images | Photo by Santiago Felipe

 

Tori Spelling, a renowned actress and one of the beneficiaries of her father Aaron Spelling's $600 million estate, faced financial challenges due to her extravagant lifestyle. Concerned about her spendthrift tendencies, her father decided to limit her inheritance to a modest $800,000, allocating the majority of his fortune to his wife, Candy. However, this reduction in her inheritance did little to deter Spelling, who occasionally splurged up to $60,000 in a single shopping spree. As her debts accumulated from her extravagant lifestyle, she also faced a daunting tax bill exceeding $1 million, leading to legal pressures to settle her outstanding debts.


Graham Roos

Royal Flush | Getty Images | Photo by FPG
Royal Flush | Getty Images | Photo by FPG

 

At the age of 26, Graham Roos found himself inheriting a surprising windfall of $750,000 following the passing of his great-aunt. While he had expected an inheritance, the magnitude of this bequest exceeded his wildest expectations. With this newfound wealth, he promptly resigned from his job and embarked on an extravagant spending spree. Unfortunately, the money didn't last long, and he paid little attention to the diminishing balance in his account. Lavish vacations and high-priced art acquisitions constituted a significant portion of his expenditures, but it was his addiction to partying and drugs that triggered a downward spiral. As he rapidly depleted his inheritance, debt began to accumulate, forcing him back into the workforce to avert the risk of homelessness.

Maureen O'Conner

Gambling | Getty Images | Photo by Lars Baron
Gambling | Getty Images | Photo by Lars Baron

 

The life of Maureen O'Conner, a political contender eyeing a seat on the San Diego City Council, changed forever when she met Robert O. Peterson, the visionary behind Jack in the Box fast-food restaurants. Following Peterson's passing, Maureen inherited a substantial fortune exceeding $50 million. However, her life took a tumultuous turn as she grappled with a brain tumor diagnosis and the profound grief of losing her husband and dear friends. She sought solace in video poker, and her "grief gambling" initially resulted in winnings surpassing $1 billion within a decade. But losses later on eclipsed her gains, leaving her with a fraction of her inheritance. Legal troubles compounded her woes, with a money laundering conviction for using her husband's nonprofit funds to settle gambling debts. Despite a deferred prison sentence, the substantial restitution and court costs left her in a state of destitution.


Barbara Hutton

Barbara Hutton | Getty Images | Photo by Bettmann
Barbara Hutton | Getty Images | Photo by Bettmann

 

Barbara Hutton, famously known as the "Poor Little Rich Girl," was the heiress to the Woolworth fortune. In the early 1930s, upon turning 21, she inherited a staggering $50 million. However, despite her upbringing in wealth, Barbara Hutton grappled with deep-seated insecurities as she entered adulthood. Her father was often absent from her life, and her mother battled with depression. Hutton's vulnerability manifested in a penchant for shopping, particularly for her loved ones, whom she showered with extravagant gifts ranging from fine jewelry and haute couture to artworks once owned by Marie Antoinette. Throughout seven marriages and numerous affairs, her vast fortune gradually dwindled, leaving her with nearly nothing at the time of her passing in 1979, at the age of 66.


John Hervey

John Hervey | Getty Images | Photo by Bryn Colton
John Hervey | Getty Images | Photo by Bryn Colton

 

John Hervey, the 7th Marquess of Bristol and a scion of English nobility gained his inheritance on his 21st birthday during the late '70s. At the time, the inheritance amounted to a substantial $6 million, which, when adjusted for today's value, would approximate nearly $65 million. Moreover, during his twenties, Hervey augmented his fortune through shrewd investments in real estate, oil, and various ventures. But Hervey's lifestyle of opulence and excess eclipsed his business acumen and expenses outpaced his considerable wealth. He splurged on yachts, luxury sports cars, and companions. But drug addiction dealt a major blow as he squandered over $9 million of his fortune on cocaine and heroin in a decade. Numerous drug-related offenses also followed, with one culminating in his deportation. By the early '90s, he found himself destitute, and tragically succumbed to organ failure attributed to his drug abuse.

Huntington Hartford II

Huntington Hartford | Getty Images | Photo by Bettmann
Huntington Hartford | Getty Images | Photo by Bettmann

 

Huntington Hartford II, raised in a world of opulence and indulgence, was accustomed to a life where servants fulfilled his every whim. His immense wealth, totaling $90 million, was inherited at the tender age of 11 following his father's death. This wealth emanated from his position as the heir to the expansive A&P empire, which encompassed a nationwide network of grocery store chains. However, He poured the inheritance into a series of ill-fated ventures and personal passions, including a modeling agency and a Bahamian real estate venture that resulted in staggering losses, exceeding $30 million. His financial hemorrhaging extended beyond investments, with four costly divorces with each settlement higher than the previous. By 1992, he was forced to declare bankruptcy, and his abode had shifted from a mansion to a dilapidated rental property in Brooklyn.


Clint Murchison Jr.

Bedford Wynne of Rangers; Willington Mara of Giants; Clint Murchison, Jr. | Getty Images | Photo by University of Southern California
Bedford Wynne of Rangers; Willington Mara of Giants; Clint Murchison, Jr. | Getty Images | Photo by University of Southern California

 

Clint Murchison Jr., heir to his oil magnate father's $200 million fortune in the late 1960s, developed a taste for luxury. Unlike his father's savvy investments, Murchinson Jr. indulged in extravagant passion projects. He poured millions into founding the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and invested in various ventures, including restaurants, oil, real estate, and a radio station. Sadly, most of these ventures failed, worsened by the oil and real estate collapse in the 1980s. Burdened by insurmountable debt, he filed for bankruptcy at 85 and passed away two years later, having liquidated all assets to ease his financial woes.

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