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Lifestyles of the Rich and Furry – The 10 Wealthiest Pets in History

Ian Harvey
Life is "ruff".
Life is "ruff".

The care of pets, especially wealthy pets, has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and there are some owners that spare no expense to make them happy.  The luckiest of animals are owned by the wealthy and are often named in their wills.  Some have earned their own money making a fortune for their owners.  Let’s look at a few.

Grumpy Cat

In 2012 a small part Siamese cat with an eternally grouchy face won popularity on the internet.  Grumpy Cat, whose real name was Tarder Sauce, was born in 2012 with feline dwarfism.  Her family has approved marketing for books, clothing, shoes, perfume and calendars, just to name a few.  She has her own website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Unfortunately, Tarder passed away at the age of seven in May of 2019 leaving her owner, Tabitha Bundensen, a wealthy woman.  Reports of amounts of one hundred million dollars have been put forth but Bundesen claims it is not quite that much and won’t reveal an actual amount.  As long as Grumpy Cat merchandise sells, she will still be bringing in money.

grumpy cat

Grumpy cat. Photo by Gage Skidmore CC by 3.0

Gunther IV

A German Shepherd named Gunther IV inherited just over three hundred million dollars from his sire, Gunther III.  Gunther III was owned by German Countess Karlotta Liebenstein who when she passed away in 1991 left between sixty five and eighty million dollars for her pet.

With careful investments from a legal team in the Bahamas including properties in the Bahamas, Italy and Germany as well as a villa in Miami, Gunther IV inherited about three hundred and twenty four million dollars when Gunther III died.  Gunther IV has his own BMW, personal chef and servants to attend to his every need.

German shepherd

German Shepherd (aka Alsatian and Alsatian Wolf Dog). CC by SA-3.0

Oprah Winfrey’s dogs

Oprah Winfrey’s dogs, Springer Spaniels named Sadie, Sunny, Lauren, Layla and Luke will never have to want for anything even if they outlive their famous owner.  From her over two billion dollar estate, she has set up a trust fund of thirty million dollars to care for her pets.

springer spaniel

Springer Spaniel

Rin Tin Tin

One of the most famous dogs from the 1920s to the 1950s was a German Shepherd named Rin Tin Tin.  He was found as a stray during World War I in Lorraine, France and was brought back by US Air Corporal Lee Duncan.  He was found at a bombed out shelter with his mother and litter mates.  Duncan took a male and female pup and others in the battalion took the rest.  Rin Tin Tin and Nannette were the only ones to survive.  After reaching Los Angeles, Nanette died but Rinty, as his owner called him, lived until 1932.

In 1922 Duncan showed off Rinty’s skills at a dog show where he caught the attention of film producer Darryl Zanuck who paid Duncan three hundred and fifty dollars to allow him to film Rinty.  Eventually, Rinty starred in over twenty six films with Warner Brothers and had his own radio show earning over six thousand dollars a week which would translate to eighty four thousand dollars in today’s money.

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin’s star debut in Where the North Begins (1923)

Duncan also allowed Rinty to be bred and his descendants are still being bred at a Texas kennel.  When Rinty died in Jean Harlow’s lap at the age of 14 he was returned to France and buried in Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques in Asnieres, a suburb of Paris.

Trouble the dog

When the “Queen of Mean”, Leona Helmsley, died in 2007 she left a trust fund for her Maltese Terrier, Trouble, in the amount of twelve million dollars.  Her fortune was earned by her husband Harry Brakmann Helmsley in real estate deals including the Empire State Building, according to britannica.com.

Helmsley’s grandchildren, from whom she was estranged, challenged the will and the New York State Attorney General’s Office lowered Trouble’s inheritance to one and a half million dollars.  Trouble was cared for by the manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel in Florida until he died at the age of twelve.

Maltese Terrier

Maltese Terrier, nicknamed “The Ancient Dog of Malta, “The Maltese Lion Dog” and “The Roman Ladies Dog”. Photo by Ugotmail CC by SA-30

Choupette

Fashion designer and artistic director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld told Time that his white Birman cat, Choupette, earned over three million dollars from two modeling jobs.   One was for German automobile Opel Corsa and the other from a Japanese beauty product. Lagerfeld hired two personal assistants for Choupette who groom her, play with her and see to her every need. She also has a personal chef and a hairdresser.

Lagerfeld gifted her diamond jewelry, and she was photographed with famous models from all over the world.  According to Lagerfeld, the white Birman cat doesn’t care much for children and other animals but has her own seat on his private plane with an embroidered pillow.  When Lagerfeld died in February of 2019, Choupette inherited part of Lagerfeld’s three hundred million dollar fortune but the news of how much has not yet been released.

Birman cat

White Birman cat. Photo by Martin Spamer CC by SA-3.0

Hipster Cat

Hamilton, the Hipster Cat, was a feral rescue from the Humane Society in Silicon Valley.  Being feral, it took a long time for him to trust people but as soon as he met his forever human, he became calm and happy.  It took a while for him to acclimate to his new home, but he is now the king of the castle.

What makes Hamilton so special is that his grey fur has a special white making under his nose that looks like a handlebar mustache.  He has his own web page which includes merchandise with his likeness and has amassed a fortune of about eight hundred thousand dollars.

Moose

Moose, the Parson Russell terrier that appeared as Eddie on the television show Frasier earned ten thousand dollars per episode of the long running comedy.  Originally owned by Sam and Connie Thise of Florida he was surrendered to the Florida manager of Birds and Animals Unlimited because of his constant bad behavior.

He was shipped off to Los Angeles and Mathilde de Cagny, an animal trainer for television and movies.  Within six months Moose was trained well enough to appear on the show and was an instant hit.  Between Frasier, personal appearances, magazine covers and the movie, My Dog Skip, Moose amassed a fortune of over three million dollars before he died in 2006 six months shy of his sixteenth birthday.

Parson Russell Terrier

Parson Russell Terrier. Photo by Ellen Levy Finch CC by SA-3.0

Gigoo the chicken

Not to be outdone by cats and dogs, Gigoo the chicken owned by publisher Miles Blackwell inherited about ten million dollars.  According to The Telegraph Blackwell and his wife Briony had set up the Tubney Charitable Trust with thirty million dollars to aid his favorite charities.  When the Blackwells retired in 2001, they moved to the Oxfordshire countryside to breed rare pigs and chickens.  Not long after, Briony died with Blackwell following her three weeks later.  With no children, Blackwell left millions for the care of his favorite hen, Gigoo.

Chicken

Chicken!

Bella Mia

Another Maltese terrier, Bella Mia, is owned by New York accountant, Rose Ann Bolasny.  Bella has an allowance of one hundred thousand dollars a year for grooming and shopping.  She has her own bedroom complete with a double bed.  The pup wears diamond tiaras and necklaces and eats steak hand fed to her from the dinner table.  Bella is also a frequent visitor to five star restaurants around the world.  Bolasny cut her two sons out of her will and intends to leave Bella jewelry, a trust fund and a home worth around one million dollars when she dies.

Related Article: 5 Crazy Stories of Animals Committing Crimes

And there you have it! The richest animals in history!