Skip to main content
/living

Dogs, Ferrari, strangers -- weird stipulations

  • Story Highlights
  • People have put some very bizarre stipulations in their wills
  • Socialite buried "in lace nightgown ... in my Ferrari, with seat slanted comfortably"
  • Two very rich women left millions to their dogs
  • Comic book writer had his ashes mixed with ink for anthology
  • Iowa lawyer left money for library banning all female writers and visitors
By Ethan Trex
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
Mental Floss

(Mental Floss) -- News outlets reported this week that legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite never amended his will to include Joanna Simon, who had been his girlfriend for the last four years of his life. Cronkite's daughter said the newsman never planned to leave Simon, a former opera singer and older sister of Carly Simon, any sort of inheritance, but either way, wills are back in the news.

Leona Helmsley left her dog Trouble $12 million dollars in her will.

Leona Helmsley left her dog Trouble $12 million dollars in her will.

What better time to look at some of the most bizarre codicils ever written?

1. Leona Helmsley

The notoriously egomaniacal hotelier famously left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble, while entirely cutting two of her grandchildren out of her will (for "reasons which are known to them").

Her other two grandchildren didn't get off the hook entirely; their inheritances were contingent upon their regularly making visits to their father's grave, where they would have to sign a registration book to prove they had shown up.

2. Carlotta Liebenstein

Don't think Trouble Helmsley is the richest pooch on the block. When Liebenstein, a German countess, died in 1991, she left her entire $80-million estate to her dog, Gunther.

3. Jeremy Bentham

The 18th-and-19th-century social philosopher left the world a rather odd bequest in his will: his preserved, clothed body.

No one's quite sure what Bentham was getting at with this "gift," but since his 1832 death his clothed skeleton -- topped with a wax model of Bentham's head -- has been preserved in a wood-and-glass cabinet known as the Auto-Icon. It now resides at University College London and is occasionally moved so Bentham can "attend" meetings.

Bentham didn't want for the Auto-Icon to feature a wax head; he actually carried around the glass eyes he wanted used in his preserved face for years before his death. However, the preservation process distorted his face, so the wax replica had to stand in.

For many years Bentham's real head sat between his feet in the Auto-Icon, but it was such a target for pranksters that it eventually had to be locked away. Mental Floss: 10 things your body can do after you die

4. Sandra West

West, a California socialite and oil heiress, died when she was just 37 years old and requested that she be buried "in my lace nightgown ... in my Ferrari, with the seat slanted comfortably." Her family buried West in her powder-blue 1964 Ferrari 330 America, then covered the car with cement to deter car thieves.

Good call: nice examples of that year's 330 America can now sell for well over $300,000.

5. Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara

The Portuguese aristocrat was a childless bachelor, so he divvied up his estate by picking 70 names at random from the Lisbon phone book in 1988. When he died 13 years later, his attorneys notified the unsuspecting beneficiaries that they stood to inherit their benefactor's cash, his home, and his car.

6. Charles Millar

The Canadian attorney died a childless bachelor, but he left $568,106 to the mother who gave birth to the most children in Toronto in the 10 years following his 1928 death. This bequest prompted what Canadians called "the Baby Derby" as mothers raced to win the fortune. Finally, in 1938 four winners split the prize after giving birth to nine babies apiece. Mental Floss: Names you probably shouldn't give your kid

7. Heinrich Heine

The German poet left his entire fortune to his wife, but with one catch: she had to remarry "because then there will be at least one man to regret my death."

8. S. Sanborn

Sanborn, a 19th-century New England hatter, left a rather macabre bequest to a friend -- a pair of drums made from Sanborn's skin. The friend received further instructions to go to Bunker Hill each June 17th and play "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on the drums.

9. T.M. Zink

Zink, an Iowa lawyer who died in 1930, must have had some pretty bad experiences with women. When he died he left his daughter a measly five bucks, and his wife got nothing.

He stipulated that the rest of his $100,000 estate be put in a trust for 75 years, then used to create the Zink Womanless Library. The library would have no feminine decorations, no books or magazine articles by female authors, and was required to have "No Women Admitted" carved into the stone over the entrance.

10. Robert Louis Stevenson

When the celebrated author died, he left his friend Annie H. Ide his birthday. Ide had previously complained to Stevenson about the inconvenience of being born on Christmas, so the writer left her November 13th as a new birthday provided she take care of it with "moderation and humanity... the said birthday not being so young as it once was."

11. Henry Budd

It's not clear how he originally made 200,000 pounds, but when Henry Budd died in 1862, he left his substantial fortune to his two sons on the condition that neither sullied his lip with a mustache.

12. Mark Gruenwald

When longtime comic book writer and editor Mark Gruenwald died in 1996, fans of the Marvel Comics icon probably thought they'd seen the last of the former Captain America writer.

Gruenwald had other ideas, though. He requested that his ashes be mixed into the ink used to print the first trade paperback anthology of Squadron Supreme, another one of his landmark creations. Mental Floss: 5 comic superheroes who made real-world difference

For more mental_floss articles, visit mentalfloss.com

Entire contents of this article copyright, Mental Floss LLC. All rights reserved.

All About

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print
Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.