Majel Barrett-Roddenberry was the wife of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. Majel outlived her husband by almost two decades. When she died in 2008, she left a $4 million trust to the couple’s dogs, and $1 million to their caretaker. The caretaker also got the right to live in the mansion and take care of the pups.
German Countess Karlotta Libenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her German Shepherd, Gunther III. Trustees of the fortune have increased Gunther III’s estate to a value of $375 million through investments, making him the richest pet of all time. Gunther III reportedly purchased Madonna’s Miami Beach mansion in 2000. His fortune has now passed to his progeny, Gunther IV.
When fashion designer Alexander McQueen died in 2011, he left $82,000 to his three English bull terriers, Callum, Juice, and Minter. He also left $164,000 to each of two animal charities: The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and The Blue Cross Sick Animal Center.
Gail Posner belonged to one of Miami Beach’s richest families. When she died in 2010, she left a $3 million trust to her three dogs, Conchita, Lucia, and April Marie. Posner’s son only got $1 million, and he sued, alleging that the house waitstaff took advantage of his sick mother and pushed her to change her will. The waitstaff inherited $26 million and the right to live in Posner’s mansion and care for her dogs.
Leona Helmsley was the wife of Harry B. Helmsley, a New York City real estate tycoon. Leona survived her husband, and when she died in 2007, she left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble. Trouble received so many death threats that Helmsley’s trustees had to hire security personnel to protect the dog.
Two of Helmsley’s grandchildren were entirely left out of the will, and they filed a lawsuit. A judge decided to reduce Trouble’s portion of the will to $2 million and give the two snubbed grandchildren a total of $6 million. The majority of Helmsley’s estate went to charity to care for dogs.
Maria Assunta was the widow of an Italian real estate investor. She had no children, so she took in a stray cat from the streets of Rome and named him Tommaso. When she died in 2011, she left her entire $13 million fortune to the cat and gave her nurse the responsibility of caring for him.
A wealthy British woman named Margaret Layne was befriended by a stray cat about a year before she died in 2003. Layne named the cat Tinker, and in her will she left him a $130,000 trust and allowed him to stay in her house in North London for the rest of his life. Layne put her neighbors in charge of taking care of the house and looking after Tinker. The neighbors’ cats, Lucy and Stardust, apparently “chose” to move in with Tinker.
Betty White is still alive and kicking at 96 years old. But when she dies, she wants to be sure her Golden Retriever, Pontiac, is well cared for. White, a widow with no children of her own, has set up a $5 million trust in her will to care for Pontiac and her other pets.
Christina Foyle was the owner of London’s famous Foyle’s bookshop. When she died in 1999, she left $112,000 to her four tortoises and her dog. She trusted her handyman and his wife with the responsibility of caring for the animals. She also charged her housekeeper with caring for her nine cats.
Ben Rea was a British antique dealer who was almost entirely unknown until his death in 1988. Even though he had surviving family members, he left almost his entire fortune to his cat, Blackie. Rea had 15 cats in his mansion, but Blackie was the last living at the time of his death. The remainder of Rea’s estate went to cat charities.
A businessman named Sidney Altman left the majority of his $6 million estate to his Cocker Spaniel, Samantha, and named his girlfriend, Marie Dana, the dog’s guardian. Dana was furious that she did not inherit any money from the will, and filed a lawsuit to get $2.7 million of the estate. Dana claimed she was Altman’s fiancé when he died. Altman’s will described Dana as his “good friend.”
Miles Blackwell was a publishing magnate who, along with his wife, established the Tubney Charitable Trust to protect farm animals. Blackwell was going to leave his fortune to his wife, but she died before him in 2001. Blackwell had no children, so he left $15 million to his pet hen named Gigoo when he died just weeks after his wife.