Thursday, April 17, 2008

At least she didn't leave it for the dog.........

Anita Roddick, the late founder of the Body Shop, fulfilled her promise that she would not leave one penny of her multimillion-pound fortune to her children in her will. Instead, she gave £51 million to her charitable foundation before she died last year aged 64, leaving an estate of £655,747, which will go to the taxman. Her net worth is listed as nil.

Dame Anita once described the idea of bequeathing her fortune to her children as obscene. “I told my kids that they would not inherit one penny,” she said. “The money that we make from the company goes into the Body Shop Foundation, which isn’t one of those awful tax shelters, like some in America. It just functions to take the money and give it away.” Her late husband and business partner has his share of the
£100 million the couple received when they sold the Body Shop to L’OrĂ©al in 2005.

The London Times reports that the couple’s two daughters, Sam and Justine, have previously said that they supported their mother’s decision to disinherit them. Sam, 35, who runs Coco de Mer, an upmarket sex shop, said in an interview before her mother’s death that it was a relief. “If the money was divided between family members, I suppose it would be natural to equate the amount that you were left with the amount that you were loved, which makes it very complicated and emotional.

“If my mum had said to me, ‘I’m not leaving the money to you but I’ve decided to give it all to a distant cousin’, then I would have found that offensive. But giving it all to charity is different. You can’t argue about someone giving their money away, can you? They’ve already given us everything in terms of love and support.”

I sometimes play bridge here in Wichita with Steve, who administers Social Security Benefits. During the spare moments we aren't being whomped at bridge we talk about poverty in America - how generational poverty just seems so hard to solve. Generational wealth is also obscene in some ways (unless you are the beneficiary I suppose). I love the idea that the dogs (a la Leona Helmsley) don't get the money - that foundations that will actually benefit. I'm not feeling sorry for Anita's daughters - I'm sure their dad will leave them some money........but good for Anita!

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