Duke with then husband James H. R. Cromwell, January 1940
|Born||November 22, 1912|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||October 28, 1993 80) (aged|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Cremated remains scattered in the Pacific Ocean|
|Net worth||USD$1.2 billion|
Doris Duke (November 22, 1912 – October 28, 1993) was a billionaire tobacco heiress, philanthropist, art collector, horticulturalist, and socialite. She was often called "the richest girl in the world".Her great wealth, luxurious lifestyle, and love life attracted significant press coverage, both while she was alive and after her death.
Duke's passions varied wildly. Briefly a news correspondent in the 1940s, she also played jazz piano and learned to surf competitively. At her father's estate in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, she created one of America's largest indoor botanical displays. She was also active in preserving more than 80 historic buildings in Newport, Rhode Island. Duke was close friends with former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and in 1968, when Duke created the Newport Restoration Foundation, Kennedy Onassis was appointed the vice president and championed the foundation.
Her philanthropic work in AIDS research, medicine, and child welfare continued into her old age. She also donated funds to support and educate black students in the South who were disadvantaged because of their race.Her estimated $1.3 billion fortune was largely left to charity. Duke's legacy is now administered by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, dedicated to medical research, prevention of cruelty to children and animals, the performing arts, wildlife and ecology.
Duke was born in New York City, the only child of tobacco and hydroelectric power tycoon James Buchanan Duke and his second wife, Nanaline Holt Inman, widow of William Patterson Inman. 875 million to $1.458 billion in 2020), the majority derived from J.B. Duke's holdings in the American Tobacco Company and the precursor of the Duke Power Company.At his death in 1925, the elder Duke's will bequeathed the majority of his estate to his wife and daughter, along with $17 million in two separate clauses of the will, to The Duke Endowment he had created in 1924. The total value of the estate was estimated variously at $60 million to $100 million (equivalent to $
Duke spent her early childhood at Duke Farms, her father's 2,700-acre (11 km2) estate in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. Due to ambiguity in James Duke's will, a lawsuit was filed in 1927 to prevent auctions and outright sales of real estate he had owned; in effect, Doris Duke successfully sued her mother and other executors to prevent the sales. One of the pieces of real estate in question was a Manhattan mansion at 1 East 78th Street which later became the home of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
When she turned 18, in 1930, the 6-foot (1.8 m) tall Duke was presented to society as a debutante, at a ball at Rough Point, the family residence in Newport, Rhode Island. She received large bequests from her father's will when she turned 21, 25, and 30; she was sometimes referred to as the "world's richest girl." Her mother died in 1962, leaving her jewelry and a coat.
When Duke came of age, she used her wealth to pursue a variety of interests, including extensive world travel and the arts. During World War II, she worked in a canteen for sailors in Egypt, taking a salary of one dollar a year.She spoke French fluently. In 1945, Duke began a short-lived career as a foreign correspondent for the International News Service, reporting from different cities across the war-ravaged Europe. After the war, she moved to Paris and wrote for the magazine Harper's Bazaar .
While living in Hawaii, Duke became the first non-Hawaiian woman to take up competitive surfing under the tutelage of surfing champion and Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku and his brothers.A lover of animals, in particular her dogs and pet camels, in her later years Duke became a wildlife refuge supporter.
Duke's interest in horticulture led to a friendship with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scientific farmer Louis Bromfield, who operated Malabar Farm, his country home in Lucas, Ohio in Richland County. Today, his farm is part of Malabar Farm State Park, made possible by a donation from Duke that helped purchase the property after Bromfield's death. A section of woods there is dedicated to her and bears her name.
At age 46, Duke started to create Duke Gardens, an exotic public-display garden, to honor her father James Buchanan Duke.She extended new greenhouses from the Horace Trumbauer conservatory at her home in Duke Farms, New Jersey. Each of the eleven interconnected gardens was a full-scale re-creation of a garden theme, country or period, inspired by DuPont's Longwood Gardens. She designed the architectural, artistic and botanical elements of the displays based on observations from her extensive international travels. She also labored on their installation, sometimes working 16-hour days. Display construction began in 1958.
Duke had learned to play the piano at an early age and developed a lifelong appreciation of jazz and befriended jazz musicians. She also liked gospel music and sang in a gospel choir.[ citation needed ]
Duke cultivated an extensive art collection, principally of Islamic and Southeast Asian art. In 2014, sixty objects from her collection (including ceramics, textiles, paintings, tile panels, and full-scale architectural elements) were displayed temporarily at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in the exhibition "Doris Duke's Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art,"organized by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The collection is on public display at her former home in Honolulu, Hawaii, now the Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, & Design.
Duke acquired a number of homes. Her principal residence and official domicile km2) estate in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. Here she created Duke Gardens, a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) public indoor botanical display that was among the largest in America.was Duke Farms, her father's 2,700 acre (11
Duke's other residences were private during her lifetime: she spent summer weekends working on her Newport Restoration Foundation projects while staying at Rough Point, the 49-room English manor-style mansion that she inherited in Newport, Rhode Island.
Winters were spent at an estate she built in the 1930s and named "Shangri La" in Honolulu, Hawaii; 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) veranda at 475 Park Avenue that was later owned by journalist Cindy Adams; and another apartment near Times Square that she used exclusively as an office for the management of her financial affairs.and at "Falcon Lair" in Beverly Hills, California, once the home of Rudolph Valentino. She also maintained two apartments in Manhattan: a nine-room penthouse with a
She purchased her own Boeing 737 jet and redecorated the interior to travel between homes and on her trips to collect art and plants. The plane included a bedroom decorated to resemble a bedroom in a real house. Doris Duke had difficulty remaining in one place, and whenever she arrived somewhere, she had the desire to go somewhere else.
Duke was a hands-on homeowner, climbing a ladder to a three-story scaffolding to clean tile murals in the courtyard of Shangri La,and working side by side with her gardeners at Duke Farms.
Three of Duke's residences are currently managed by subsidiaries of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and allow limited public access. Duke Farms in New Jersey is managed by the Duke Farms Foundation; a video tour of the former Duke Gardens is available. Rough Point was deeded to the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1999 and opened to the public in 2000. Tours are limited to 12 people. Shangri-La is operated by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art; small personal tours and an online virtual tour are available.
In 1966, Eduardo Tirella, curator of Duke's art holdings for the previous decade, decided to leave for a career in Hollywood as a production designer. He flew to Newport, where she was staying at Rough Point, on October 6, to collect his belongings and let Duke know that he was leaving her employ. His friends who also knew her had warned him she would not take it well, and the following afternoon the estate's staff overheard the two having a loud and lengthy argument before they got into a rented Dodge Polara to leave.
Tirella, who had been driving, got out at the gate to open it, leaving the engine running but with the parking brake engaged and the transmission in park. Duke moved from the passenger seat to the driver's seat in order, she said later, to drive the car forward and pick up Tirella once the gate was open. In order to do so she released the parking brake and shifted into drive, but instead of putting her foot on the brake pedal she hit the gas. The vehicle, she told police later, pinned Tirella against the still-opening gates, knocked them over and then struck a tree across Bellevue Avenue. Tirella was found trapped under the car and was pronounced dead of serious injuries soon after.
After a brief investigation, the Newport police ruled the death was accidental. Tirella's family sued and won $75,000 ($473,000 in today's dollars ), divided among his eight siblings, when Duke was found negligent after a trial five years later. Later biographies and her obituaries repeated the official finding.
In 2020, Peter Lance, a Newport native who had begun his journalism career at Newport Daily News shortly after the incident, reinvestigated the case in a Vanity Fair article. He found initially that the police file on the case and the transcripts of the wrongful death suit brought by Tirella's family were missing from archives where they would normally be kept, but was able to find some of those documents later. They showed that the investigation into Duke had been cursory and compromised by conflicts of interest (shortly before the medical examiner arrived at the hospital, for instance, Duke had hired him as her personal physician, meaning anything she told him was protected by doctor-patient privilege).
What Lance was able to find showed that Duke's account of the incident had changed and was inconsistent with the evidence. The parking brake could not have been released the way she said she had, and all Tirella's injuries were above his waist, which suggests he was not trapped between the car and the gates when it broke through. The deep grooves left by the Polara's rear tires in the gravel suggested considerably more acceleration than what might have resulted from an accidental depression of the gas pedal. Lance, and several other experts who reviewed the evidence, concluded that it was far more likely that Duke had deliberately run Tirella over out of rage at his decision to leave her for Hollywood.
Shortly after the case was closed, Duke began making considerable philanthropic contributions to the city, including the repair of Cliff Walk around her estate, previously a source of friction between her and the city when her dogs had attacked tourists, and $10,000 to the hospital she had been taken to the night of the accident. Within months she established the Newport Restoration Foundation, which has since renovated 84 of the city's colonial era buildings. The police chief retired to Florida within a year and bought two condominiums for himself; he was succeeded as chief by the detective who had investigated the incident, instead of his boss who was seen as next in line. Belief persists today in Newport that there was a coverup facilitated by Duke "blood money".
Duke married twice, the first time in 1935 to James H. R. Cromwell, the son of Eva Stotesbury and stepson of wealthy financier Edward T. Stotesbury.Cromwell, a New Deal advocate like his wife, used her fortune to finance his political career. In 1940 he served several months as U.S. Ambassador to Canada and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. The couple had a daughter, Arden, who was born prematurely on July 13, 1940, in Hawaii and died on the following day. They divorced in 1943.
On September 1, 1947, while in Paris, Duke became the third wife of Porfirio Rubirosa, a diplomat from the Dominican Republic. She reportedly paid his second wife, actress Danielle Darrieux, $1 million to agree to an uncontested divorce. Because of her great wealth, Duke's marriage to Rubirosa attracted the attention of the U.S. State Department, which cautioned her against using her money to promote a political agenda. Further, there was concern that in the event of her death, a foreign government could gain too much leverage. Therefore, Rubirosa had to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. During the marriage though, she gave Rubirosa several million dollars in gifts, including a stable of polo ponies, sports cars, a converted B-25 bomber, and, in the divorce settlement, a 17th-century house in Paris.
She reportedly had numerous affairs, with, among others, Duke Kahanamoku, Errol Flynn, Alec Cunningham-Reid, General George S. Patton, Joe Castro and Louis Bromfield.
Duke posted a bail of $5,000,000 for her friend, former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos after the latter was arrested for racketeering.
In 1992, at the age of 79, Duke had a facelift. She began trying to walk while she was still heavily medicated and fell, breaking her hip. In January 1993, she underwent surgery for a knee replacement. She was hospitalized from February 2 to April 15. She underwent a second knee surgery in July of that year.
A day after returning home from this second surgery, she suffered a severe stroke. Doris Duke died at her Falcon's Lair home on October 28, 1993, at the age of 80. The cause was progressive pulmonary edema resulting in cardiac arrest, according to a spokesman.
Duke was cremated 24 hours after her death and her executor, Bernard Lafferty, scattered her ashes into the Pacific Ocean as her last will specified.
When Doris' father died, he left a fortune valued at $100 million,with the largest share going to Duke and her mother. Nanaline was a shrewd businesswoman, often compared to Hetty Green, and when she died in 1962, she left her daughter an estate then estimated to be worth $250 million.
Duke also owned numerous shares in big-name companies, such as General Motors, and had a large financial team of bankers and accountants to manage her holdings (since, despite rumors, Duke had little to no interest in money matters). In addition, Duke had a collection of artwork, which was said to include works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Monet, as well as her valuable collection of Islamic and Southeast Asia art and furniture. Also in Duke's collection were over 2,000 bottles of rare wine (worth over $5 million) and the extraordinary Duke collection of fine jewels. Her total net worth, including all property, was valued at $5.3 billion.
Duke's first major philanthropic act was to establish Independent Aid, Inc., in 1934, when she was 21 years old, in order to manage the many requests for financial assistance addressed to her.In 1958, she established the Duke Gardens Foundation to endow the public display gardens she started to create at Duke Farms. Her Foundation intended that Duke Gardens "reveal the interests and philanthropic aspirations of the Duke family, as well as an appreciation for other cultures and a yearning for global understanding.". Duke Gardens were the center of a controversy over the decision by the trustees of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to close them on May 25, 2008.
In 1968, Duke created the Newport Restoration Foundation with the goal of preserving more than eighty colonial buildings in the town. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with whom Duke was friends with, was the vice president and publicly supported the foundation.Duke was also friends with artist Andy Warhol. Historic properties include Rough Point, Samuel Whitehorne House, Prescott Farm, the Buloid-Perry House, the King's Arms Tavern, the Baptist Meetinghouse, and the Cotton House. Seventy-one buildings are rented to tenants. Only five function as museums. She also funded the construction of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in India, visited by the Beatles in 1968.
Duke's extensive travels led to an interest in a variety of cultures, and during her lifetime she amassed a considerable collection of Islamic and Southeast Asian art. After her death, numerous pieces were donated to The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Walters Art Museum of Baltimore.
Duke did much additional philanthropic work and was a major benefactor of medical research and child welfare programs. In the late 1980s, Duke donated $2 million to Duke University to be used for AIDS research.Her foundation, Independent Aid, became the Doris Duke Foundation, which still exists as a private grant-making entity. After her death, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was established in 1996, supporting four national grant making programs and Doris Duke's three estates, Shangri La, Rough Point, and Duke Farms.
Duke was the life beneficiary of two trusts created by her father, James Buchanan Duke, in 1917 and 1924. The income from the trusts was payable to any children after her death. In 1988, at the age of 75, Duke legally adopted a woman named Chandi Heffner, then a 35-year-old Hare Krishna devotee and sister of the third wife of billionaire Nelson Peltz.Duke initially maintained that Heffner was the reincarnation of her only biological child Arden, who died soon after birth in 1940.
The two women had a falling out, and the final version of Duke's will specified that she did not wish Heffner to benefit from her father's trusts; she also negated the adoption. Despite the negation, after Duke's death, the estate's trustees settled a lawsuit brought by Heffner for $65 million.
In her final will, Duke left virtually all of her fortune to several existing and new charitable foundations. She appointed her butler, Bernard Lafferty, as executor of her estate.Lafferty appointed the U. S. Trust company as corporate co-executor. Lafferty and Duke's friend Marion Oates Charles were named as her trustees.
However a number of lawsuits were filed against the will. At death, Duke's fortune was estimated at upwards of $1.2 billion. [ citation needed ]The best-known lawsuit was initiated by Harry Demopoulos. In an earlier will, Demopoulos had been named executor and challenged Lafferty's appointment. Demopolous argued that Lafferty and his lawyers had cajoled a sick, sedated old woman into giving him control of her estate.
Even more sensational accusations were made by a nurse, Tammy Payette, who contended that Lafferty and a prominent Beverly Hills physician, Dr. Charles Kivowitz, had conspired to hasten Duke's death with morphine and Demerol. In 1996, the year Lafferty died, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office ruled there was no firm evidence of foul play.
Duke University also filed suit, claiming entitlement to a larger share of the Duke assets than the $10 million provided in the will (although Duke's will also stated that any beneficiary who disputed its provisions should receive nothing).
Litigation involving 40 lawyers at 10 different law firms tied up the Duke estate for nearly three years. New York courts ultimately removed Lafferty for using estate funds for his own support and US Trust for failing "to do anything to stop him."The Surrogate Court of Manhattan overrode Duke's will and appointed new trustees from among those who had challenged it: Harry Demopoulos; J. Carter Brown (later also involved in overturning the will of Albert C. Barnes ); Marion Oates Charles, the sole trustee from Duke's last will; James Gill, a lawyer; Nannerl O. Keohane, president of Duke University; and John J. Mack, president of Morgan Stanley. The fees for their lawsuits exceeded $10 million, and were paid by the Duke estate. These trustees now control all assets of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which Doris Duke directed should support medical research, anti-vivisectionism, prevention of cruelty to children and animals, performance arts, wildlife, and ecology.
The DDCF also controls funding for the three separate foundations created to operate Duke's former homes: the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Duke Farms and Newport Restoration Foundation. The trustees have progressively reduced funding for these foundations, stating that Doris Duke's own works are "perpetuating the Duke family history of personal passions and conspicuous consumption."Recently, these foundations have sold some assets and have closed Duke Gardens. Christie's, New York, published a heavily illustrated catalog of over 600 pages for its auction of "The Doris Duke Collection, sold to benefit the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation" which was held in New York City over three days in 2004.
The last living heirs to Duke's vast Industrial Age fortune are twins Georgia Inman and Walker “Patterson” Inman III, the children of Walker Inman Jr., Duke's nephew. Their childhood has been documented as a tragedy of grotesque neglect, abuse, parental violence and addiction.
Niki de Saint Phalle was a French-American sculptor, painter, and filmmaker. Widely noted as one of the few female monumental sculptors, Saint Phalle was also known for her social commitment and work.
James Buchanan Duke was an American tobacco and electric power industrialist best known for the introduction of modern cigarette manufacture and marketing, and his involvement with Duke University. He was also the founder of American Tobacco Company in 1890.
Louis Bromfield was an American author and conservationist. A bestselling novelist in the 1920s, he reinvented himself as a farmer in the late 1930s and became one of the earliest proponents of sustainable and organic agriculture in the United States. He won the Pulitzer Prize, founded the experimental Malabar Farm near Mansfield, Ohio, and played an important role in the early environmental movement.
Nannerl "Nan" Overholser Keohane is an American political theorist and former president of Wellesley College and Duke University. Until September 2014, Keohane was the Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She is now a professor in social sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, where she is researching the theory and practice of leadership in democratic societies.
Prescott Farm is a historic preservation of a colonial farm in Middletown, Rhode Island. It spans 40 acres, and was in danger of demolition before Doris Duke, through the Newport Restoration Foundation bought it in 1973 and began restoration of the historical site. Notable features of it include an operational windmill, British General Prescott's Guard House, a county store, and a University of Rhode Island Master Gardener project with the purpose of simulating a historical vegetable garden through careful research on what crops where grown during that time period. The farm itself is typical of the farms on Aquidneck Island.
George Huntington Hartford II was an American businessman, philanthropist, stage and film producer, and art collector. He was also heir to the A&P supermarket fortune.
Duke Gardens in Somerset County, New Jersey were among the most significant glass house collections in America. Created by Doris Duke herself, the aerial view confirms they were larger than the New York Botanical Garden's Haupt Conservatory, and were open to the public from 1964. They were closed by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation on or before May 25, 2008 and the plant material was donated to public gardens throughout the United States.
The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design is housed in the former home of Doris Duke near Diamond Head just outside Honolulu, Hawaii. It is now owned and operated as a public museum of the arts and cultures of the Islamic world by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA). Guided tours depart from the Honolulu Museum of Art, which operates the tours in co-operation with DDFIA.
Rough Point is one of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, now open to the public as a museum. It is an English Manorial style home designed by architectural firm Peabody & Stearns for Frederick William Vanderbilt. Construction on the red sandstone and granite began in 1887 and was completed 1892. It is located on Bellevue Avenue and borders the Cliff Walk and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The original gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm. The home's last owner was Doris Duke and it is currently owned and operated by the Newport Restoration Foundation.
Harry B. Demopoulos is a researcher in the medical aspects of free radicals, especially in the areas of ischaemic injury, the toxicity of anticancer drugs, and in spinal cord injury. He has also been a film actor and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The Newport Restoration Foundation was founded by Doris Duke in 1968 in Newport, Rhode Island to preserve early housing stock including 18th century colonial homes. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was foundation's vice president.
Ruth Lilly was an American philanthropist, the last surviving great-grandchild of Eli Lilly, founder of the Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical firm, and heir to the Lilly family fortune. A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, Ruth Lilly is estimated to have given away nearly $800 million of her inheritance during her lifetime, mostly in support of the arts, education, health, and environmental causes in Indianapolis and in Indiana.
Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke is a 1999 American four-part television miniseries starring Lauren Bacall and Richard Chamberlain which was first broadcast on CBS on February 21 and 23, 1999. It was based primarily on the book The Richest Girl in the World by Stephanie Mansfield as well as Bob Colacello's two in-depth articles about Ms. Duke in Vanity Fair. Colacello was the magazine's authority on Doris Duke.
Duke Farms is an estate that was established by James Buchanan Duke, an American entrepreneur who founded Duke Power and the American Tobacco Company. Located in Hillsborough, New Jersey the property is managed by the Doris Duke Foundation after the death of Doris Duke, the second owner. After extensive reorganization "Duke Farms" was opened to the public on May 19, 2012.
Bernard and Doris is a 2006 film directed by Bob Balaban. The teleplay by Hugh Costello is a semi-fictionalized account of the relationship that developed between socialite heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke and her self-destructive Irish butler Bernard Lafferty later in her life.
Beechwood is a Gilded Age estate located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island.
Falcon Lair is an estate above Benedict Canyon in Bel Air, Los Angeles. The estate was built in 1925 by Rudolph Valentino, who named it Falcon Lair after his unproduced film, The Hooded Falcon. It is better known as a residence of heiress Doris Duke from 1952 until 1998.
Arthur Curtiss James was a wealthy speculator in copper mines and railroads.
Janice H. Levin (1913–2001) was an American businesswoman and philanthropist and art collector from New York City. She was a patron of the ballet and collected mostly French impressionist paintings. She was a supporter of higher education as well as charities in Israel. She donated many of her paintings to museums.
Bernard Lafferty (1945–1996) was an Irish butler and heir to well-known American tobacco heiress and philanthropist, Doris Duke. Duke hired Lafferty in 1987 and named him the executor of her $1.2 billion estate 6 months prior to her death in 1993. Their unorthodox relationship sparked controversy and speculation, although no charges were ever filed against Lafferty regarding her death.
All but passed over in the latest parceling was Skipper's Aunt Doris Duke—Nanaline's daughter—already worth an estimated $70 million, who was merely bequeathed some of her mother's jewelry. When auctioned off by Christies several years ago, those pieces of jewelry, which included a 20 carat diamond ring from Tiffany & Co., fetched over $4,000.000.
it’s the final months of the gardens being on display in the greenhouses that have enchanted visitors since 1964
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