It’s easy to assume that life would be a breeze if we had unlimited wealth, but money truly can’t buy happiness. The following people were all born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but they all secretly suffered emotional and physical hardships, addictions, and abuse that made their lives miserable.
Tobacco Heiress Doris Duke’s Billion Dollar Heirs were Imprisoned in a Squalid Basement
In an August 2013 article entitled, “The Poorest Rich Kids In The World,” Rolling Stone magazine’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely exposed the horrific details behind two teenagers who are the heirs to one of the United States’s largest family fortunes. Patterson and Georgia Inman, age fifteen, are the children of Walker Inman, the nephew of tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The Inman twins are set to inherit a trust fund worth one billion dollars when they turn twenty-one, yet both teens recently spent three months in a mental hospital to deal with the trauma of their horrific childhood.
The Duke family once controlled the entire tobacco industry in the U.S. They established the prestigious Duke University, and their charitable foundation gives away millions of dollars every year. However, the heir to that fortune, Walker Inman, was a drug addict who subjected his children to abuse from the time they were two until his death from a meth overdose when they were twelve. Together with his fifth wife, fellow drug and alcohol addict Daralee Inman, Walker routinely locked the kids in a basement that was smeared with feces, trapped them in their bedrooms, forced them into scalding hot baths, and endangered their lives by driving them around while heavily intoxicated.
While the children were sometimes treated to extravagant luxuries like owning a pet lion and taking exotic vacations, their schooling was sporadic and their lives were so cloistered that they are emotionally and intellectually stunted. They still believe in Santa Claus, for instance, and both suffer from suicidal thoughts and anorexia after being malnourished and underfed for their entire childhood.
Walker Inman often subjected his children to chemical fumes while he was freebasing drugs in front of them. His abuse was both physical and verbal; he was once arrested after smacking Georgia so hard in the face that fellow diners pressed charges because they feared for the girl’s life.
The Inman twins now live with their estranged mother, a former stripper, and are undergoing intensive therapy to cope with their traumatic upbringing.
Christina Crawford: Adopted and Abused by a Hollywood Legend
Christina Crawford was less than a year old when she was adopted by a glamorous movie star, actress Joan Crawford. One of four adopted children, Christina grew up in the lap of luxury, however she claims to have been a victim of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother for most of her life. Her tell-all memoir, Mommie Dearest, was published two years after her mother died. It was later made into a movie starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford and Diana Scarwid as Christina.
Christina alleges that her mother suffered from violent mood swings and alcoholism, both of which lead her to habitually hit and scream at her children with little provocation. When the book was released, it brought the concept of parental abuse by wealthy parents into the spotlight, and now Christina is the poster child for the “poor little rich girl.”
After Joan Crawford’s death, Christina and her brother discovered that they had been cut out of her will for “reasons which are well-known to them.” The siblings later sued, claiming that another sister, Cathy LaLonde and her husband, Jerome, took advantage of their aging mother’s mental condition to ingratiate themselves and increase their own fortune. Christina now has little to no contact with her sister, but has gone on to be an actress and writer, as well as a champion for abused children everywhere.
Heir to the Astor Fortune Allegedly Neglects His Elderly Mother as Payback for His Childhood
Anthony Marshall is the only son of renowned socialite and charitable philanthropist Brooke Astor. The Astor family is one of the richest and most respected blue blood families in the United States. Sadly, their family history of parental abuse and neglect is a long legacy that still sends shockwaves throughout New York City high society to this day.
Brooke Astor was married twice before marrying into the Astor family. Her first husband, J. Dryden Kuser, was a wealthy New Jersey politician with whom she had one son, Anthony. Astor alleges that her first husband abused both her and their son for years before she finally divorced him. Astor claimed that Kuser subjected her and Anthony to physical and verbal abuse, and that he was an adulterer who was plagued by alcoholism throughout their marriage. According to a biography of the socialite written by Frances Kiernan in 2007, Brooke was six months pregnant with the couple’s only child when Kuser broke her jaw.
After their divorce, Astor married Charles H. Marshall, whom she loved very much. Her son Anthony respected his stepfather so much that he even took his last name when he turned eighteen, prompting his biological father to sue him for back child support.
Though surrounded by affluence, Anthony’s childhood was one of parental neglect, abuse, and fear. After his mother married Vincent Astor, the heir to the Astor fortune, Anthony was pushed even further into the shadow of his parents’ spotlight. Even Brooke Astor herself has been quoted as saying that though she is a philanthropist, she was a “lousy mother.”
Perhaps Anthony’s sad, lonely childhood is the reason why he was convicted in 2007 of elder abuse and mismanaging his mother’s huge fortune. In 2006, the New York Daily News printed a front page story about the feud between Anthony and his son, Philip Marshall. When Philip Marshall visited his 103-year-old grandmother, he found that Brooke was living in squalid conditions, and in her ailing mental and physical state she was unable to help herself. Philip sued his father in order to stop the elder abuse, and once an investigation began, Anthony’s embezzlement was discovered.
Marshall was convicted of taking advantage of his mother’s deteriorating health and stealing millions of dollars from her. Brooke was eventually assigned new guardians who made sure that she was comfortably appointed until her death in 2007 at the age of one hundred and five.
Anthony was sentenced in 2009, and went to jail in 2013 at the age of eighty-nine. He has since paid back about twelve million dollars that he stole from his ailing mother over the years.
Modern Family Actress Verbally Abused and Starved by Her Mother
Fans of the ABC sitcom Modern Family were shocked to hear that an actress on the show, Ariel Winter, the 14-year-old girl who plays the character of middle child Alex Dunphy, was secretly subjected to cruelty and abuse at the hands of her mother, Crystal Workman.
In 2012, Ariel filed paperwork with the assistance of her older sister, thirty-four-year-old Shanelle Workman. Ariel claimed in court documents that her mother subjected her to “ongoing physical abuse (slapping, hitting, pushing) and emotional abuse (vile name-calling, personal insults about minor and minor’s weight, attempts to ‘sexualize’ minor, deprivation of food, etc.) for an extended period of time.”
Though Crystal Workman denies all of the accusations against her, her older daughter Shanelle was also removed from her family’s care by the Department of Child and Family Services twenty years ago, when she was about the same age as Ariel. Shanelle lived in foster care for several years until she was old enough to move out on her own.
Now, Ariel has been allowed to live with Shanelle, though her mother and estranged father are both petitioning the court to regain custody. Reports indicate that the cast and crew of Modern Family knew that Ariel was being abused, but could do nothing to help her. They witnessed Crystal withholding food from the teenager, only allowing her to eat egg whites and raw vegetables. She would often tell Ariel that she didn’t look good in her clothes, that her ears were too big, and other cruel and damaging remarks. Crew members admit that they felt so sorry for her that they would try to sneak Ariel food when her mother wasn’t looking.
Heiress to the Johnson & Johnson Fortune Dies Alone in Squalor
Casey Johnson is the daughter of a socialite mother, Sale Johnson, and Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, and the great-grandson of a Johnson & Johnson founder. Casey grew up surrounded by wealth and opulence. She attended the best private schools, rubbed elbows with childhood friends Nikki and Paris Hilton, drove expensive cars, and got her first Chanel handbag at age ten. Yet underneath all of the wealth dwelled a sad child whose mother largely ignored her, and who started using hard drugs by the time she was barely in her teens.
By all accounts, the life of Casey Johnson was a tragic case even before she died alone in a messy bungalow at the age of thirty. She was a hard partier who was addicted to cocaine and alcohol, and she had been to rehab more times than she could remember. A bi-sexual, Casey could never seem to find lasting love with either men or women, and her heartbreak often lead her to have nasty fights in public. One time, an ex-girlfriend set her hair on fire in a nightclub. Another time, she sneaked into an ex’s house and left a used vibrator on the bed.
During her final days, Casey became engaged to the lowly reality show star Tila Tequila, who seemed to be more concerned with how much money Casey had than what she was like as a person. Casey had adopted a toddler, but after friends reported that she was leaving the child unattended while she went out partying, Casey’s mother Sale stepped in and took guardianship of the child. Sale also cut Casey off financially, causing the woman to live in disgusting conditions in a low-rent home.
On December 29th, the heiress sent a final Tweet that said, “Sweet dreams everybody.” Four days later, a maid who had been sent to check on the house discovered Casey’s body in bed. She had died several days earlier from a complication of her Diabetes, which she had had since she was a child.
Wealthy Girl Starts Doing Drugs at Age Eight Due to an Abusive Childhood
Leigh Horowitz is the daughter of fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger’s Chief Executive Officer, Joel Horowitz. Leigh grew up with staggering wealth, attended posh private schools, and took lavish vacations. Unfortunately, her father worked long hours and traveled extensively, so by the time she was just sixteen, Leigh was totally addicted to drugs.
She started smoking pot when she was just eight-years-old. Then, she turned to heavier drugs, like cocaine, LSD, and heroin. She was always in trouble at school for showing up high or drunk, and she seemed to be in a downward spiral that no one could fix.
After her father discovered her drunk and on drugs at a friend’s party on Thanksgiving night, he went to her room and discovered hashish, marijuana, and heroin. The next morning, he fooled her into thinking that they were taking a ski trip, but instead she was sent to Ascent, a wilderness program for troubled children in Idaho. While undergoing extensive (and extremely expensive) therapy, Leigh’s parents were shocked to learn that she had been molested from the age of seven until she was nine by a teenage boy that she knew, and that she had also been raped in high school. Both of these horrible events contributed to her drug and alcohol abuse.
The therapy she received saved Leigh’s life, and though she hated her parents while she was going through it, she was able to get clean and sober and go on to mend her relationship with them and lead a productive adult life.
Girl Wins Lottery at Age Sixteen, But Loses It All Due to Issues Stemming from Her Abusive Past
In 2003, Callie Rogers was just sixteen years old and earning minimum wage when she won a major lottery in the United Kingdom, snagging a £1,875,000 (roughly $2,846,812) jackpot. Though the teenager vowed that she would behave responsibly with her windfall, she soon began spending the money frivolously.
Just nine years later, Callie was a mother of two who had wasted the vast majority of her lottery winnings on breast augmentation surgeries, parties, and £250,000 (about $380,000) on cocaine. All but about $2,000 of her fortune was gone. After seeking help for her spending and drug addictions, Callie realized that she had been acting out because of her long history of childhood abuse, including being sexually molested when she was a child.
She told The Sun, “I prayed winning the Lottery would make me so happy I would forget what he did to me. But once the buzz of winning died down within weeks, I realized I was still crippled by the disgusting thoughts of what that man did to me.”
Recently, Callie has remarried and is studying to become a nurse. She and her husband both work to support their three children.
Actress Mackenzie Phillips was Addicted to Drugs and Involved in an Incestuous Relationship
Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of John Phillips, a member of The Mamas & the Papas, and his first wife, Susan Adams. Mackenzie got her start when she was just twelve years old, when she earned a role in American Graffiti, which then lead to a role on the popular sitcom One Day At A Time. Though she achieved financial and professional success at a very young age, she was unable to appreciate her fame due to her additions to drug and alcohol. She claims to have tried drugs with her musician father when she was just eleven years old, and that her dad had actually helped inject her with cocaine when she tried it for the first time as a child.
Mackenzie’s entire life has been marred by drug abuse and arrests. To make matters worse, in a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey she claimed that she and her father had engaged in a ten year long consensual sexual relationship. The sexual relationship started when she passed out drunk at the age of eighteen and woke up to find that her father was having intercourse with her. She then continued to use drugs and have consensual sex with him for years.