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  • The Deceased: Ms. Eleanor Ritchey, unmarried granddaughter of Quaker State Oil founder Philip John Bayer
  • The Bequest: Ritchey died in 1968, with an estate worth around $12 million.  According to Scott Bieber in Trusts and Estates magazine:  “Under her will, she left over 1,700 pairs of shoes and 1,200 boxes of stationary to the Salvation Army.  The rest of her estate went to the dogs.”  Real dogs, he means – a pack of 150 strays that Ritchey had adopted as pets.  The will set up a trust that permitted the mutts to live in the lap of luxury for up to 20 years.  At the end of that period – or on the death of the last of the dogs, whichever came first – the remainder of the estate went to Auburn University.
  • What Happened: In 1984, Musketeer, the richest dog in America and the last of the original 150, went to that great kennel in the sky.  Auburn got its money.
  • The Deceased: Patrick Henry, American patriot
  • The Bequest: Everything he owned was left to his wife . . . as long as she never married again.  If she did, she forfeited the whole thing.  “It would make me unhappy,” he explained, “to feel I have worked all my life only to support another man’s wife!”
  • What Happened: She remarried anyway
  • The Deceased: Charles Miller, famed Canadian lawyer
  • The Bequest: According to Thomas Bedell in Having the Last Word, his will “consisted mainly of practical jokes.  He willed shares in the Ontario Jockey Club to two crusaders against gambling.  To three men who hated one another, he left equal shares of the same house.  And part of his estate was promised to the Toronto mother giving birth to the largest number of children in the decade after his birth.”
  • What Happened: The public either loved or hated it.  Newspapers called it “the Stork Derby.”  Moralists tried to invalidate the will on the grounds that it promoted promiscuity.  But in the end, half a million dollars was split between a quartet of women who had each had nine kids in the 10 ensuing years.
  • The Deceased: Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.
  • The Bequest: In addition to his normal earthly goods, Stevenson tried to leave his birthday.  He willed it to a good friend who’d complained that since she was born on Christmas, she never got to have a real birthday celebration.
  • The Deceased: An Australian named Francis R. Lord
  • The Bequest: One shilling to his wife “for tram fare so she can go somewhere and drown herself.
  • What Happened: The inheritance was never claimed.
  • The Deceased: A rich, unmarried New Yorker who died in 1880
  • The Bequest: He left everything to his nephews and nieces, with the exception of 71 pairs of pants.  He wrote:  “I enjoin my executors to hold a public sale at which these trousers shall be sold to the highest bidder, and the proceeds distributed to the poor.  No one purchaser is to buy more than one pair.”
  • What Happened: The auction took place.  Each person who bought a pair of pants, upon examining their purchase, discovered “a 41,000 bill sewn into a pocket.”
  • The Deceased: Sandra West, wealthy 37-year-old Beverly Hills socialite
  • The Bequest: Her estate was worth about $3 million, most of which she left to her brother – provided he made sure she was buried “in my lace nightgown and my Ferrari, with the seat slanted comfortably.”
  • What Happened: That’s how they buried her, surrounding the Ferrari with concrete so no one would be tempted to dig it up and drive it away.
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