Tragic Details About These Heirs And Heiresses

You may wish you'd been born into a family of fame and fortune, but it's not always puppies and rainbows for children whose parents have fallen upon ridiculous wealth and adoration. 

As the famous saying goes, "money can't buy happiness." It also can't buy you sanity or safety, nor can it protect you from life's cruel and unusual events. Sometimes, money can even exacerbate and enhance your chances of ending up completely miserable, kidnapped, cursed, or behind bars. After all, when your parents, or grandparents, have all the money in the world, they're prone to blackmail. As long as you're swimming in cash, there's always going to be someone who wants to take it from you. More importantly, you may think yourself invincible and find yourself on the wrong side of the law for testing society's limits. 

Jay-Z really sums it up perfectly when he sang "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems." Here are the tragic stories of some of the most well-known heirs and heiresses. 

Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst

Patty Hearst, granddaughter of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped at her college apartment at Berkeley by a terrorist group at the age of 19 in February of 1974. The group called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), and its members released a video confirming Hearst was their hostage. The SLA demanded Patty's father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, donate "millions of dollars in food" to Californians in need. It was later discovered that she was participating in a crime spree alongside her kidnappers. Hearst was spotted on surveillance video aiding and abetting an armed bank robbery. 

"The impact of the photographs of Patty Hearst with the machine gun were in some ways even bigger than the kidnapping itself because it established, or so it appeared, that Patty Hearst had gone over to the other side," legal analyst and author of American Heiress Jeffrey Toobin said.

The saga didn't end well. Six of the nine members of the SLA were killed by the Los Angeles police, and Hearst was arrested in September of 1975 where she was sentenced to seven years behind bars. President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence, however, and Hearst was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton. 

It is still widely contested today what really happened. Was she in on it from the beginning, or was she simply suffering from a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome? Hearst claims she was brainwashed, but no one will ever know but her and the remaining few SLA members. 

John Paul Getty III, oil tycoon heir

John Paul Getty III, grandson of oil tycoon John Paul Getty, was kidnapped in Rome in 1973. His grandfather was famously reluctant to pay his kidnapper's ransom, and he wasn't released until five long months, and one ear, later.

Getty III lived in Italy as a teenager and went to boarding school there. One day, he just disappeared. His mother received a ransom note two days later demanding $17 million dollars in exchange for his freedom. His mother was unable to pay and sought help from the famous family patriarch, who supposedly "expressed doubt that the boy really had been abducted." 

Getty III recalled the terrifying kidnapping experience years later to Rolling Stone Magazine, saying that he'd "always plot my escape" and that he once "drilled a hole with a knife" to make a peephole. He had managed to steal a knife from his captors. 

Because grandfather Getty wouldn't immediately play ball, a debt had to be paid. And that debt came in the form of Getty III's ear and a lock of his hair, which was sent to a newspaper in Rome. Getty III's grandfather finally agreed to pay the ransom, but he managed to whittle the asking price down to $3 million. Getty III suffered from a narcotics-induced stroke in 1981, leaving him paralyzed until his death in 2011. 

Barbara Hutton, heiress to Woolworth fortune

Known as America's "poor little rich girl," Barbara Hutton was heiress to the Woolworth company trust. She flaunted her fortune and was the extravagant epitome of inherited wealth to the public.

But her childhood was fraught with tragedy. Hutton stumbled upon her mother's dead body when she was just 4 years old. Her father remarried Irene Curley Bodde soon after her mother's death, otherwise known as Hutton's wicked stepmother. Both her parents were reportedly neglectful, and Hutton spent a lot of time traveling to stay with friends and distant relatives. When she was sent to boarding school, she spent holidays alone at school because no one bothered to come pick her up.

That isolation and neglect she experienced as a child may have contributed to her fickle and needy love life. Hutton was constantly seeking love and attention, and that led to seven failed marriages, a drug and alcohol addiction, and struggles with anorexia and depression.

"All the unhappiness in my life has been caused by men," Hutton is quoted as saying (via The New York Times). "I think I'm pretty timid about marriage but I'm also too timid to live alone, and life doesn't make sense without men." Many of her marriages were high profile sensations, including her three-year marriage to movie star Cary Grant. Not only did her marriages fail, but her only son died in a tragic plane crash at the age of 27. She died at the age of 66, with only $3,500 to her name.

Tobacco giant heiress Doris Duke

Doris Duke was the heiress to tobacco billionaire and president of the American Tobacco Company, Buchanan Duke. Doris inherited his wealth at just 12 years old and actually had to sue her own mother two years later to prevent her from selling the family's assets. 

She and Barbara Hutton had somewhat of a socialite rivalry, in fact. Both could easily compete with one another in the drugs and alcohol addiction category. After two failed marriages and the death of her daughter, Doris also became the prime suspect in the murder of her friend of ten years, Eduardo Tirella. On their way into town to Newport, R.I., Doris reportedly slid into the driver's side of the vehicle while Tirella was out opening the gate to her home. But their vehicle struck the heavy iron gate, and the car dragged Tirella's crumpled body, flinging him across a two-lane road and hitting a tree. The death was eventually deemed "an unfortunate accident" as evidence at the site had vanished

After Tirella's death, Hutton commented that, "Perhaps Doris didn't like his taste. She certainly didn't care for mine."

Just days before her own death, Doris reportedly rewrote her will and left her $1.2 billion estate to her butler as executor, though many suspect foul play that unfortunately could never be proven in court. 

Abigail Folger, murdered coffee heiress

Abigail Folger, heir to the Folgers Coffee fortune, was one of the five victims of the Charles Manson murders, alongside her boyfriend, Voytek Frykowski, who was a friend of Roman Polanski's. Her death was upstaged by the more famous murder victims, most importantly actress Sharon Tate

Folger spent most of her young life trying to find herself. She eventually found purpose working as a volunteer social worker for the Los Angeles County Welfare Department, focusing on helping children at the Watts ghetto. She was also involved in politics and donated generously to Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign, while also working for a racially charged city council campaign in Los Angeles. Being a wealthy heiress meant she was never strapped for cash, but her work with L.A.'s poverty-stricken community left her disturbed and depressed. 

Folger's wealth, intelligence, and charm made her an easy companion to the stars. She and her beau had been asked by Tate to stay with her while Polanski was still away on business. They were Tate's houseguests, however, on a very unfortunate evening — the evening Manson's "Family" conducted their infamous murder spree. According to a postmortem interview with one of the killers, Susan Atkins, Folger had pleaded with them to stop stabbing her, saying, "I give up, you've got me," and "I'm already dead." 

None of Tate's houseguests made it out alive that night. Folger was just 26 years old. 

David Kennedy of Kennedy family fame

The Kennedy family has had more than its fair share of tragedy, and many believe the very name is cursed. One of Robert Kennedy's sons, David, was no exception. Not only did he have to endure his father's assassination, which led to developing a heroin and alcohol addiction, he died a tragic, public death at the tender age of 28. 

David led a troubled young adulthood, particularly after his father's death. "No one ever talked to me about what I was feeling," David told writers Peter Collier and David Horowitz. "Nobody ever talked to me about my father's death." 

David was arrested for drunk driving twice, had a known cocaine addiction, and reportedly stole Demerol from his ailing 93-year-old grandmother during his visit with her in Palm Beach. A Kennedy friend in Boston recalled later that, "he [David] really did believe that everyone in the family regarded him as merely a skeleton to be kept closeted." He continued to struggle with his place in the world, dropping out of Harvard University and later began working as a news reporter. 

Shortly after visiting grandmother Rose Kennedy in the spring of 1984, David was found dead at the Brazilian Court Hotel after overdosing on cocaine, Demerol, and Mellaril. 

Lisa Brennan-Jobs of Apple mogul fame

The daughter of Apple tech mogul Steve Jobs had to endure her father's paternity denials throughout her childhood. Lisa Brennan-Jobs was the love child of Jobs and his high-school sweetheart, Chrisann Brennan. Jobs was eventually forced by the state to take a DNA test and come to terms with the truth, but before then, he once told a Time magazine journalist that "28% of the male population of the United States could be the father." 

Brennan-Jobs spent the majority of her childhood watching her single mother struggle, cleaning houses and waitressing while on welfare. Her mother had to sue Jobs for child support. Despite the rocky beginning, Brennan-Jobs formed somewhat of a relationship with her father during her teen years and lived with him for a time. But cruel and unusual behavior by Jobs followed, as Brennan-Jobs recalls in her memoir, Small Fry. As a teenager, Jobs refused to get the heating fixed in her room, for example. He also refused to pay for her college tuition at Harvard after her first year of undergrad. 

Still, Brennan-Jobs maintains that albeit complicated, she and her father shared a lot of happy memories together, and Jobs even named one of his earliest Apple personal computer models The Lisa in 1983. 

Henrietta Guinness, heiress to beer legacy

Much like the Kennedy's, the Guinness dynasty is riddled in dark and devious history. Heiress of Anglo-Irish brewer Arthur Guinness, Lady Henrietta Guinness, sister of the Earl of Iveagh, was only 35 when she plunged to her death in Italy, taking her own life. A number of Henrietta's relatives died in car crashes, and Henrietta nearly died in one herself when boyfriend Michael Beeby crashed his Aston Martin into the French Riviera but survived with minor injuries. 

After a number of fleeting, high-profile romances, which included nearly marrying an Italian sous-chef, nearly eloping with "Britain's best-known beatnik," Beeby, and nearly marrying her hairdresser after gifting him with a £70,000 salon, she finally married medical school dropout and bartender, Luigi Marinori. She and Marinori moved into a cozy cottage in Spoleto, Italy, and had a daughter, Sarah. 

Sadly, it was in Spoleto in 1978 where she climbed the famous Ponte delle Torri bridge and fell 200 feet to her death. 

 "If I had been poor, I would have been happy," Henrietta once said while being treated for depression in a hospital ward.

Anthony Marshall, heir to Astor dynasty

Anthony D. Marshall was the only son to socialite Brooke Astor and heiress to the Astor dynasty. Marshall was abused by his father and neglected by his mother as a child. Nevertheless, he had a slew of successful, high-profile careers, including working as an operative for the CIA, acting as a United States ambassador, and even became a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer. 

Marshall found out as his mother got older that his inheritance had been cut by half, and he enacted revenge on his mother when he was put in charge of her fortune. He was later convicted of stealing millions from her and taking advantage of the fact that she suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. In 2009, he was found guilty of 14 of the 16 charges filed against him, including first-degree grand larceny. The trial captivated New York with its seven-day star-studded witness lineup, which included Henry Kissinger, Barbara Walters, and the wife of Oscar de la Renta. 

He was sentenced to three years in New York State prison, but eight weeks in, he was granted medical parole due to his Parkinson's and congestive heart failure at the age of 89. Marshall died a year later. 

Heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean and the Hope Diamond

Evalyn McLean was a gold rush heiress who purchased the infamous, and some consider cursed, 45.5-carat Hope Diamond. Why did people think it was cursed? She, along with previous and future owners, experienced a slew of tragedy after possessing the rare jewel. The diamond's origins trace back to French merchant traveler, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who purchased it likely from a Kollur mine in Golkonda, India. Among its owners were King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. 

McLean and her fiancé agreed to buy the diamond from Cartier in Paris in 1910 for $180,000. She was apparently aware of the rumored curse upon its purchase, writing in her diary, "Then I put the chain around my neck and hooked my life to its destiny for good or evil."

Her destiny would unfortunately be linked with evil from then on. Her son died at the age of 9, and her daughter died of a drug overdose at 25. Her husband ran off with another woman, was later declared certifiably insane, and eventually died in a mental hospital. Her family business also went bankrupt, and she was forced to sell their newspaper, The Washington Post. McLean died with massive debts, and her remaining children sold the Hope Diamond to Harry Winston, who gifted it to the Smithsonian. If you need further proof of the gem's curse, James Todd, the mailman delivering the diamond to the museum apparently had his leg crushed in a truck incident shortly after delivery. 

Clare Bronfman, Seagram's heiress and criminal

Clare Bronfman is the 41-year-old heiress of the Seagram's liquor fortune, but that clearly didn't keep her out of harm's way. Bronfman plead guilty to felony charges in a racketeering case against the members of NXIVM, a cult and multi-level marketing company headed by Keith Raniere. She is currently doing time behind bars for her role in enabling the dangerous cult leader. Raniere was recently sentenced to 120 years in prison

The heiress plead guilty to felony charges and has been sentenced to seven years behind bars for her role in enabling Raniere's cult, which was based in upstate New York. She spent tens of millions of dollars to help bankroll Raniere's efforts and paid for lawyers on the cult's behalf. She expressed remorse in court, telling the judge that she was "afforded a great gift by my grandfather and father" and "with the gift comes immense privilege and more importantly, tremendous responsibility. ." 

Greek shipping company heiress Christina Onassis

Christina Onassis, Aristotle Onassis' daughter, led a fraught and tragic life despite her wealth. Heiress to the Onassis Greek shipping fortune, Christina was diagnosed with clinical depression and had a pill addiction. Christina also did not approve of her stepmother, Jackie Kennedy, whom she considered to be a gold-digger. She referred to Kennedy as "my father's unfortunate obsession." 

As a child, her family was humiliated when her father was the subject of a very public case of adultery. She struggled with drug use, her weight, and was known for giving cash to her friends just to convince them to hang out with her. She was married four times, and none of her marriages lasted more than two years. Her mother died of a drug overdose, and her brother died in a plane crash, among other tragic details. 

Christina was found dead in a bathtub at the age of 37 at a friend's house in Buenos Aires, reportedly suffering from a heart attack. 

"She was one of those people who would never be happy," Henrietta Gelber said of her stepsister. "She would become impatient. It had all come too easily — all the money, houses all over the world, few real responsibilities."