Doris Duke Net Worth
Doris Duke had an estimated net worth of $1.3 Billion at her death. She was an American billionaire socialite and philanthropist, as well as the only child of tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.
Doris Duke briefly worked as a news correspondent and traveled extensively. She saved over 80 historic buildings in Newport and built one of America’s largest indoor horticultural gardens. Despite being married and divorced twice and having numerous affairs, she preferred to stay out of the public eye.
She is well-known for her charitable work, which has included contributions to child welfare and AIDS research. Following her death, the majority of her fortune was left to charities that benefit children, animals, the environment, and the arts.
To calculate the net worth of Doris Duke, subtract all her liabilities from her total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity she has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.
Here’s the breakdown of her net worth:
|Net Worth:||$1.3 Billion|
|Monthly Salary:||$1 Million+|
|Annual Income:||$20 Million|
|Source of Wealth:||Inheritance|
Childhood & Early Life
Doris Duke was born on November 22, 1912, in New York City. She was the only child of tobacco and hydroelectric power baron James Buchanan Duke and his second wife, Nanaline Holt Inman. Nanaline previously married William Patterson Inman.
The media dubbed Duke “the richest little girl in the world” after her birth. Duke, on the other hand, grew up to be a shy public figure.
The Duke family had made a fortune in North Carolina’s tobacco fields. Duke’s grandfather, Washington Duke, had formed a cartel with local farmers near the end of the Civil War. Following his father’s death, Washington’s fortune was inherited by his son, James, who founded the ‘American Tobacco Company’ in 1890. After James donated $40 million to the institute, ‘Trinity College’ in Durham, North Carolina, was renamed ‘Duke University.’
James contracted pneumonia in 1925. He passed away in October of that year. A week later, it was revealed that he had left the majority of his fortune to Doris Duke, his 12-year-old daughter.
Duke grew up on her father’s sprawling estate in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, known as ‘Duke Farms.’ An ambiguity in James Duke’s will prevented his real estate from being auctioned or sold.
Duke’s mother inherited a small trust fund. This had an impact on Duke’s relationship with her mother. When she was 14, she sued her mother to prevent her from selling the family’s assets.
Duke’s mother refused to allow her to attend college. Instead, Nanaline decided to take her daughter on a grand European tour.
Duke was presented as a debutante in 1930, at the age of 18, at a ball at ‘Rough Point,’ their family home in Newport, Rhode Island.
Her mother passed away in 1962.
Her Extravagant Life as an Adult
She began investing her fortunes in world travel and the arts as soon as she reached adulthood. During WWII, she worked in an Egyptian sailor canteen. She spoke French very well.
Duke began a brief career as a foreign correspondent for the ‘International News Service’ in 1945. She reported from various cities throughout war-torn Europe. Following the war, she relocated to Paris and began writing for the popular American fashion magazine ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’
She also spent some time in Hawaii, where she became the first non-Hawaiian woman to compete in competitive surfing under the tutelage of Olympic swimmer and surfing champion Duke Kahanamoku and his brothers.
She was an animal lover who had dogs and camels as pets. Duke later became a supporter of wildlife refuges.
She was also interested in gardening. This prompted her to contact ‘Pulitzer Prize’ winner and scientific farmer Louis Bromfield. Bromfield was the manager of his country home in Lucas, Ohio, ‘Malabar Farm.’ Duke’s generous donation later resulted in the farm becoming part of the ‘Malabar Farm State Park.’ A section of the farm has been dedicated to her and named after her.
At the age of 46, Duke founded ‘Duke Gardens.’ In honor of her father, she created a public garden. She designed the architectural elements of the displays based on her international travels.
Duke was also an accomplished pianist. She enjoyed jazz and knew many jazz musicians. She, too, enjoyed gospel music and sang in a gospel choir.
Duke was involved in a car accident in 1966 that killed designer Eduardo Tirella. While it was ruled a freak accident, Tirella’s family sued Duke and won $75,000 in damages.
At the age of 21, Duke founded ‘Independent Aid, Inc.,’ her first philanthropic venture.
She founded the ‘Duke Gardens Foundation’ to help fund the public-display gardens she had started at ‘Duke Farms.’
In 1968, she also established the ‘Newport Restoration Foundation,’ with the goal of preserving over 80 colonial establishments in town, including ‘Rough Point,’ the ‘Samuel Whitehorne House,’ the ‘King’s Arms Tavern,’ and the ‘Prescott Farm.’ Five of them have been converted into museums, while the remaining 71 have been leased to tenants. Duke also contributed to the development of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s “ashram” in India, which the Beatles visited in 1968.
She had a collection of Islamic and Southeast Asian art as a result of her extensive world travel. Following her death, such items were donated to Baltimore’s ‘Walters Art Museum’ and San Francisco’s ‘Asian Art Museum.’
Duke also supported medical research and child welfare initiatives. In the late 1980s, she gave $2 million to ‘Duke University’ to fund AIDS research. Her foundation, ‘Independent Aid,’ later changed its name to the ‘Doris Duke Foundation,’ and it still exists as a private entity. Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was established in 1996 after her death, funding four national grant-making programs as well as Duke’s estates, ‘Shangri La,’ ‘Rough Point,’ and ‘Duke Farms.’
Family & Personal Life
Duke had two marriages. She married James H. R. Cromwell, the son of Palm Beach socialite Eva Stotesbury, in 1935.
Cromwell served as US Ambassador to Canada in 1940 and ran unsuccessfully for the ‘US Senate.’ Arden, their daughter, died a day after she was born. In 1943, the couple divorced.
On September 1, 1947, Duke married Porfirio Rubirosa, a diplomat from the Dominican Republic, in Paris. He married her for the third time. It is believed she paid $1 million to his second wife, actress Danielle Darrieux, for a mutual divorce.
Rubirosa was forced to sign a pre-nuptial agreement due to political tensions. Duke lavished Rubirosa with gifts that included sports cars and a converted B-25 bomber. In 1951, they divorced. He received a 17th-century house in Paris as part of their divorce settlement.
Duke had affairs with Duke Kahanamoku, Errol Flynn, General George S. Patton, Alec Cunningham-Reid, Louis Bromfield, and Joe Castro, among others. Aimée de Heeren, a Brazilian socialite, and Duke were close friends. She, however, avoided the spotlight.
She had a stroke the day after returning home from knee surgery in 1993. On October 28, 1993, at the age of 80, she died alone at the ‘Falcon Lair’ of progressive pulmonary edema caused by a cardiac arrest.
According to her will, Duke was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean by her butler, Bernard Lafferty. Lafferty had inherited her $1.2 billion fortune.
Walker “Patterson” Inman III and Georgia Inman, the children of Duke’s nephew, Walker Inman Jr., are her last living heirs.
Her Property and the Controversy over Her Will
Duke owned several properties. She mostly stayed at ‘Duke Farms,’ her father’s 2,000-acre estate in New Jersey. The famous ‘Duke Gardens’ were located here.
She had several other addresses. She spent her summers in Newport, Rhode Island, at the ‘Rough Point’ mansion. During the winter, she could be found at ‘Shangri La,’ her Hawaiian estate, and at ‘Falcon Lair,’ her Beverly Hills mansion.
She had two Manhattan apartments. She had her own ‘Boeing 737’ jet that she restructured. The plane had a bedroom and was used in her numerous tours.
Duke was named as the life beneficiary of two trusts established by her father in 1917 and 1924, respectively. Following her death, the income from those trusts was to be paid to her children. Duke adopted Chandi Heffner in 1988, when he was 75 years old. Heffner, 35, was a Hare Krishna devotee and the sister of American billionaire Nelson Peltz’s third wife. Duke believed Heffner was the reincarnation of her daughter Arden, who died shortly after birth in 1940.
However, Duke stated in her final will and testament that she did not want Heffner to benefit from her father’s trusts. Heffner sued the trustees, and the case was later settled.
Duke left her fortune to various charitable foundations and named Lafferty as executor of her estate. Later, Lafferty and Duke’s friend Marion Oates Charles were appointed as trustees for her.
Several lawsuits were filed against the will, the most notable of which were those brought by Harry Demopoulos and ‘Duke University.’
A nurse, Tammy Payette, claimed that Lafferty and Dr. Charles Kivowitz used morphine to hasten Duke’s death. Such charges, however, were not proven.
The courts eventually removed Lafferty for using estate funds for personal gain. Her trustees currently control the ‘Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.’
The foundation also oversees the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Duke Farms, and the Newport Restoration Foundation.
Among her biographies are Stephanie Mansfield’s ‘The Richest Girl in the World’ (1994), Pony Duke and Jason Thomas’ ‘Too Rich: The Family Secrets of Doris Duke’ (1996), and Ted Schwarz and Tom Rybak’s ‘Trust No One’ (1997).
Based on Mansfield’s book, the 4-hour TV miniseries ‘Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke’ (1999) starred Lauren Bacall as Duke.
‘Bernard and Doris,’ a 2006 ‘HBO’ film starring Susan Sarandon as Duke, was based on her life.
Doris Duke Quotes
The idea of building a Near Eastern house in Honolulu must seem fantastic to many.
In my Indian bedroom, the carved, cut-out marble jalis, or screens, which were formerly used by Indian princes to keep their wives from other eyes, have a new purpose: they are not only decorations, but a means of security, for they can be locked without shutting off the air.
After I’ve gone out with a man a few times, he starts to tell me how much he loves me. But how can I know if he really means it? How can I ever be sure?
I’ve discovered, I guess, that it’s fun to work.
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