In 1925, The Second-Richest Person In The World Was A 12-Year-Old Girl

One night when Doris Duke was 10, her father leaned across the dinner table with a disturbing prediction that no child (honestly, no adult) should ever hear. James “Buck” Buchanan Duke plainly told his daughter that she will never experience true love. People would only love Doris for her money, no matter what she did or where she went. It was a mantra he kept repeating.

“Buck” Duke was the founder of the American Tobacco Company. Buck passed away two years after making his awful dinner-table forecast. At the age of 68, he passed away on October 10, 1925. Twelve years old was Doris. She was just one month shy of her 13th birthday.

Doris received a $100 million trust money after Buck passed away. Doris became the second richest person in the world right away because to her inheritance. 12 years old. John D. Rockefeller was the only person on the earth who had a larger fortune. He was 86.

The media soon gave Dorris a moniker that she would always go by:

“The richest girl in the world”

Doris and Buck Duke

Marriages and Affairs

During their marriage, Doris got pregnant. She informed her pals in private that Cromwell was not the father. She had an affair while riding a cross-country train that gave birth to the child. She explained to one buddy that there was nothing else to do. Arden, a daughter, was delivered early and died after only 24 hours. In 1943, Doris and James Cromwell were divorced.

While in Rome in 1945, Doris revealed to a friend:

“Sometimes having so much money is an issue. It always happens. After I’ve gone out with a man a few times, he starts to tell me how much he loves me. How can I tell if he actually means it, though? How am I ever going to know?”

In 1947, she wed again, this time to Porfirio Rubirosa, a Dominican ambassador. Before they got married, there was a small barrier. Porfirio had a wife already. Legend has it that Doris was so madly in love with him that she offered his wife $1 million to get a swift divorce. The proposal was taken up. That would have equated to receiving a $12 million offer in today’s money.

Unfortunately, this marriage only lasted a year, even with a $1 million bribe. In reality, Rubirosa was a world-class womanizer who had affairs with a number of well-known women, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joan Crawford, Veronica Lake, Judy Garland, Eva Peron, and Marilyn Monroe. Fortunately, Doris had a prenup that was unbreakable.

The fact that he married Barbara Hutton, a Woolworth heiress, after their divorce, more than his extramarital activities, was what really made her dislike Rubirosa. Within a week of each other, rich Manhattan families gave birth to Doris and Hutton, who fought constantly throughout their lives. Rubirosa, however, gave Doris a slight advantage over her competition because his marriage to Hutton only lasted 53 days.

Doris was engaged in a number of prominent affairs. Her lovers included Duke Kahanamoku, Errol Flynn, British politician Alec Cunningham-Reid, and General George Patton.

Duke Ellington serenades heiress Doris Duke (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Extracurricular Activities

Doris experimented with a variety of hobbies and professions. One of the most well-known vocal teachers of her era taught her singing. She started singing in a gospel choir.

Doris, who lived in Hawaii, studied professional surfing under the tutelage of Duke Kahanamoku, one of the world’s top surfers, becoming the first non-Hawaiian woman to do so.

Long before it became popular, she championed animal rights and conservation because she loved animals.

She learned to grow uncommon and exotic flowers from Pulitzer Prize-winning author and horticulture Louis Bromfield.

Tragedy and Controversy

Despite leading a turbulent and eventful life, Doris Duke experienced tragedy and scandal. In 1966, Eduardo Tirella, the curator of her art collections, told Doris he was quitting to pursue a career as a production designer in the film industry. To pack his things and give Doris a formal notice, he flew to her house in Newport, Rhode Island, known as Rough Point. The two got into a furious altercation that was overheard by the estate workers just before they left in a station wagon. Tirella halted the car as it was moving down the driveway, according to Doris, so she could jump out and unlock the gates. He continued to run the engine. In order to pick up Tirella as they left Doris’ estate, she shifted across to the driver’s seat. She let go of the parking brake and pushed the pedal unintentionally as she slid into the driver’s seat. Tirella was trapped between the station wagon and the gates as the automobile rushed forward. The gates soon gave way, killing Tirella as the automobile slammed into a tree across the road. The death was considered an accident by Newport police. Doris was sued for wrongful death by Tirella’s relatives. They were given $75,000 instead of the $100,000 they requested.

Here is a video of Rough Point taken by a drone:

After her second marriage ended in divorce, Doris never remarried. She was never a mother. She did, however, have close interactions with two individuals that would affect how their lives all turned out.

Chandi Heffner

In 1984, Doris met a woman named Chandi Heffner in Hawaii. Nearly immediately, a strong bond formed between the two women.

For some reason, Doris truly started to think Chandi was her daughter Arden’s reincarnation. Together, they explored the globe while taking use of Doris’ money. They spent time in Russia, went to Romania for “fountain of youth” treatments, shopped for a $25 million Boeing 737, and adopted two camels after Doris learned they were an endangered species. Chandi oversaw Doris’s personnel and provided financial guidance. They were inseparable and traveled between Doris’s huge New Jersey farm, her Newport, Rhode Island estate, and “Shangri-La,” her palatial property on Oahu, Hawaii.

Here’s when things get strange: In 1988, Doris adopted Chandi. What makes that odd? Chandi has a 35-year-old age. She also reportedly promised to take care of Chandi in the manner she’d become accustomed to for the rest of her life and make her the executor of her will.

But in 1991, Doris removed Chandi from her life and will due to a change in circumstances.

Bernard Lafferty

Doris Duke died on October 28, 1993 at the age of 80. Bernard was given control of the estate after her passing.

The majority of Doris’ fortune was distributed to charities in accordance with the stipulations of her bequest. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation currently has control over assets worth about $2 billion. In the nearly 30 years that the Foundation has been in operation, it has already donated $1.84 billion.

Chandi sued the estate claiming she was owed a large amount of money as Doris’ legal daughter. Amazingly, the jury came to the same conclusion. In 1995, Chandi received a $65 million prize. Chandi now resides on a ranch Doris bought for her in Hawaii. In his $2.1 million Bel-Air house, Bernard passed away in 1996 from a heart attack while he was asleep.

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