$30M Mansion Sinks Hearst Heiress

Spendthift widow overspent on lavish home, lifestyle
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Nov 10, 2008 5:37 PM CST
Veronica Hearst attends the Whitney Museum of American Art Gala 2005: Celebrating 75 Years of American Art at the Whitney October 18, 2005 in New York City.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Even America's wealthy can live beyond their means, and Veronica Hearst—widow of Randy, the son of newspaper mogul William Randolph—outspent her fortune by millions, Vicky Ward writes in Vanity Fair. Her undoing was the July 2000 purchase of a $30 million mansion in Florida once owned by the Vanderbuilts. The mortgage lender foreclosed for $22 million in February, but Veronica owed them $23 million more.

What's a cafe-society spendthrift to do? Her father-in-law's will prevented Randy from bailing her out, post-mortem. Insiders speculated she'd marry again—a Rockefeller perhaps—to maintain her lavish lifestyle, which had included dining with princesses and presidents. In the end, she sold her New York flat for $36.5 million. Now she can start afresh, Ward writes, though perhaps less grandly than before. "Never ever count her out,” says an ex-family member. “She is like a cat with nine lives.”