There are probably a countless number of family feuds that have gone on in the world, but none are truly more intriguing than families who feud over money…especially wealthy families who have more money than they know what to do with. Most people could agree that there is definitely more to the world than money, but to families who are or were super wealthy, money is nearly everything. The reasons for why many of these families have feuded over money in the past may be considered childish by some, whether it’s forgetting to leave a will (or leaving a will that can’t be found), cutting off heirs, demanding money for a nonsensical reason, etc. What you may find amusing about these stories is that some people did leave behind wills dividing up their wealth and estates, and that these wills were supposed to be simple and straightforward. However, many heirs didn't see it that way, and the resulting battles that tear apart entire families not only last for years, but can remain unresolved to this very day, on both legal and personal levels.
Everyone dreams of what it would be like to be rich. Whether we’re daydreaming or trying to get to sleep at night, we've thought about what it would be like to have all the riches in the world, one time or another. Would you be greedy, generous or safe with your money? Would you spend a lot, invest it, save up, or give it away to charity? Well, after reading about the top ten tales of families who have feuded over their wealth, you may want to think twice about having all those riches! By the time you are finished reading this article, you may actually be thankful that you don’t have riches to fight with your family over!
10 Gina Rinehart and Family
9 Lee Kun-Hee and Brother
8 John Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith
In 1994, John Marshall junior, who was 89 at the time, married Anna Nicole Smith, who was 26. Marshall was a successful businessman who had made his billions through the Texas oil industry. However, a year after the wedding, he passed away, leading to a legal battle over his wealth and estates between Smith and his son, Pierce Marshall (who was thirty years older than Smith). Marshall left a will which stated that most of his wealth belonged to Pierce, but Smith claimed that Marshall promised her half of his money (despite it not being in the will). The legal battle went all the way up to the U.S Supreme Court, who ruled that Smith could pursue the case in a federal court. However, the battle came to a halt when Pierce died of an infection and Smith died of a drug overdose.
7 The Koch Brothers
Fred Koch had four sons who all feuded among themselves, about who deserved the $2.3 billion when they sold their shares of Koch Industries for approximately $1 billion. The four brothers spent years refusing to talk to each other and trying to publicly humiliate one another. But unlike most takes of families who feuded over wealth, this story has a happy ending: the brothers reconciled in 2001, bringing the feud to a close.
6 Bernard Sherman
5 Jay Pritzker
Jay Pritzker amassed a fortune of $15 billion from the Hyatt hotel chain, starting in 1957. When he passed away in 1999, everything was supposed to go smoothly with the members of his family running his company together. However, two of his grandchildren filed a lawsuit against his son, claiming that they were owed $1 billion that had been removed from their trust funds. In the end, Pritzker’s two grandchildren won and were both awarded $500 million each. The rest of Pritzker’s money and assets continued to be controlled by the rest of his family.
4 Kwok Brothers
In 2008, the oldest brother of the Kwok family, Walter, was forced out as CEO by his younger brothers, Raymond and Thomas, claiming he was unable to run their companies. Walter filed court papers against his two brothers, saying their allegations were untrue and outrageous. Raymond and Thomas responded by cutting off Walter as a beneficiary altogether. Then, in 2012, Raymond and Thomas were arrested and charged for making payments to various people for gaining political leverage. The feud continues to this day, as Walter continues to try to regain his CEO position for the family’s company and the trial for Raymond and Thomas is underway.
3 Winston Wong
Y.C Wong, a billionaire from Taiwan of the Formosa Plastics Group, died in 2008. Unfortunately, he didn't leave a will. This began a legal battle between the eldest son, Winston, and his eight younger siblings. Winston has filed numerous claims and lawsuits, demanding he become administrator of his father’s business and to gain full control of his assets. The feud has torn the Wong family apart, and their battle over the control of their father’s empire continues to this day.
2 Brooke Astor
Brooke Astor was a New York socialite who had only one son, Anthony Marshall, whom she paid little attention to when he was a boy. When Anthony grew up, his son Philip, filed a lawsuit calling for Anthony to no longer be the guardian of Brooke, who by this time, was still alive at the age of 104. Philip claimed that Anthony was denying Brooke much money from her assets and estates. Brooke was known to be very generous with her money, giving away some $200 million of it during her lifetime. The legal battle went to court, and after Brooke died in 2007, and after a trial that lasted for five months, the court ruled in favor of Philip, and found Anthony guilty of stealing millions of dollars from his mother. Anthony was sent to prison.
1 The Gallo Brothers
The wine-making operation of the Gallo brothers, Ernest and Julio, was the largest in the world, all the way back in the 1930s. But the legal battle with their younger brother, Joseph, would go on for decades, all the way to 2007. This led it to become one of the longest family feuds over wealth, in history. When the Gallo’s father apparently killed their mother and then turned the gun on himself, Ernest and Julio took control of the company and manufactured cheap wine (a step down from the quality wine that their father had produced) and denied Joseph an equal share of the assets and money. Joseph spent decades trying to be given equal rights to the family’s name, but he ended up being forced to live a new career as a dairy farmer. The brothers died in the late 2000s, and they had never spoken to each other again.