By Langley Cornwell
There have been more pets with large bank accounts than you might imagine, and they didn’t all start out as pampered, pedigreed pups. Of course some of them did, but around this time last year a rescued alley cat named Tommaso became one of the wealthiest animals in the world, adding to the growing list of animal millionaires.
Stray Cat Strut
A lonely heiress, Maria Assunta, rescued a stray cat from the streets of Rome and cared for the cat as if he was her own son. When the wealthy lady died at the age of 94, having no children to leave her estate to, Tommaso the cat inherited her fortune: $13 million dollars in cash along with property in Milan, Rome and Calabria.
Assunta, the widow of an Italian property tycoon, had a trusted nurse caring for her in her final years. When her health began to decline, the heiress began to put her affairs in order with a particular interest in securing a comfortable future for her precious cat. Her original plan was to bequeath her fortune to a suitable animal welfare organization that would commit to caring for Tommaso. When none of the animal associations met her standards, she left everything she owned to the cat, with the agreement that her nurse would agree to care for him.
A German shepherd named Gunther IV is supposed to be the wealthiest dog in the world, but some say his story is a giant publicity stunt. Whatever the case, the dog is mega rich. His father, Gunther III, was the beloved companion of Karlotta Liebenstain, an eccentric German countess. Karlotta died in 1992 and left her dog, (Gunther III), an inheritance of $124 million dollars. Apparently that German shepherd was quite a good money manager. During the elder Gunther’s lifetime, he grew his fortune to $372 million dollars which was passed on to his son, Gunther IV at his death. It’s safe to say this family of German shepherds has plenty of nutritious CANIDAE dog food to go around.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Kalu is a monkey millionaire. In 1985 Patricia O’Neill, wife of former Olympic swimming sensation Frank O’Neill, rescued the chimpanzee and the two formed an incredible bond. The story goes that one night Frank came home and caught the chimpanzee smoking his cigarettes and drinking his beer and got mad. Since that time, he didn’t much care for the chimp but his wife sure did. In 2000, Patricia changed her will so that Kalu would inherit her estate near Cape Town, which has an estimated value of $80 million dollars.
Here Comes Trouble
After her husband (New York City hotel operator and investor) Harry Helmsley died, Leona got a four legged companion to keep her company: a female Maltese named Trouble. Two years before Leona died, she changed her will to include a $12 million trust fund for her dog. At the same time, she cut several human family members out of her will.
Trouble the Maltese now lives in Florida with the general manager of one of the Helmsley’s properties. So far, the dog is doing a good job of running through her inheritance; her yearly expenses include $60,000 in caretaker fees, $100,000 for 24-hour security, $8,000 for grooming, $3,000 for miscellaneous expenses, anywhere from $2,500 to $18,000 for medical care and $1,200 for food.
In all of these cases, I’m sure the pet in question would choose a warm bed and a cuddle over their fortunes. It’s like Louis Sabin says in All About Dogs As Pets: “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn’t care if you’re not smart, not popular, not a good joke-teller, not the best athlete, nor the best-looking person. To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector.”
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell
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