Gloria Vanderbilt built a career as an actress, artist, fashion designer, author and socialite, amassing a fortune on top of her inherited money — but the heiress likely didn’t leave an inheritance for her son CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and other children.
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Vanderbilt, who died Monday morning after battling stomach cancer, was the beneficiary of a $5 million trust fund since she was born. The great-great-granddaughter of financier Cornelius Vanderbilt became known as the “poor little rich girl” in 1934 at age 10 when her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, were embroiled in a custody dispute. Whitney eventually won custody, and by 1945, Vanderbilt came into her own trust fund at age 21.
Although it's unclear what will happen to Vanderbilt's estate, Cooper most likely won’t receive a trust fund from his mother. Cooper told Howard Stern on his radio show in 2014 that Vanderbilt had already made it clear “there is no inheritance.”
"My mom's made clear to me that there's no trust fund. There's none of that," Cooper told Stern. "[And] I don't believe in inheriting money."
The “Anderson Cooper 360” anchor said inheriting money was an “initiative sucker” and a "curse."
"Who has inherited a lot of money that has gone on to do things in their own life?" Cooper asked Stern. "From the time I was growing up, if I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don't know that I would've been so motivated."
When Stern mentioned that Vanderbilt ended up “incredibly well” with a successful career despite inheriting money, Cooper responded by saying his mother was an anomaly. The CNN anchor added that his mom made more money in her own life than she inherited.
“We believe in working,” Cooper said.
Vanderbilt also previously talked about the great feeling of earning her own success apart from the money she inherited.
“I’m not knocking inherited money,” the socialite told The New York Times in 1985. “But the money I’ve made has a reality to me that inherited money doesn’t have. As the Billie Holiday song goes, ‘Mama may have and Papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got his own.’"
Vanderbilt had an estimated net worth of $200 million at the time of her death, according to celebritynetworth.com. Her family's fortune also diminished over the years due to charitable donations and lavish spending, Forbes reported. It’s unclear whether Vanderbilt left money for her two other children. One of her children, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, died by suicide in 1988.
Cooper announced his mother’s death in an on-air eulogy on CNN Monday. Cooper said Vanderbilt had gone to the doctor recently and discovered she had “very advanced cancer in her stomach that had spread.”
"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms," the CNN anchor said in a statement. "She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they'd tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.