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Money can’t buy you love and affection February 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle.
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You know that dude, don’t you? Sure it’s a cliche, but money hasn’t bought happiness for heiresses.

Oh, that poor little rich girl. With the death of Anna Nicole Smith, her 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, might inherit millions, joining an exclusive group: Gloria Vanderbilt. Christina Onassis. Barbara Hutton. Just to name a few. They’re all women whose fabulous wealth equaled the GNP of small countries. They could buy just about anything, but not happiness.

Christina Onassis, the daughter of Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, craved diet pills, junk food and affection. Married and divorced four times, she died, lying in a bathtub, at 37 in 1988.

Gloria Vanderbilt, the railroad heiress, married and divorced three times and, in 1988, watched helplessly as her son Carter, 23, committed suicide from the terrace of her 14th-floor Manhattan penthouse.

Barbara Hutton, the dime-store heiress, lost her mother to suicide when Barbara was 6. Raised by a governess, she was divorced seven times and lost her son in an airline crash. She was known for lavishing money on anyone who’d pay attention to her.

And don’t forget Doris Duke, the “million-dollar baby” thanks to tobacco. She was a kidnapping target whose father taught her to “trust no one.”

Of course, Dannielynn’s fate as an heiress isn’t nearly as certain as these women’s. Smith’s fight over her late husband J. Howard Marshall II’s oil fortune will probably play on for years. Though she originally won a $474 million judgment, it’s been reduced to about $88 million, but the fight goes on. Other legal entanglements, including contested paternity, could affect the child’s bottom line. But even if the money eventually comes her way, psychologists who study what makes people happy say that cash comes low on the list.

“What they’ve found is, you need love, a purpose in life and a sense of belonging,” says Paul Peluso, a licensed mental health counselor and an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. “Otherwise, you wonder, What reason do I have to wake up in the morning?'”

Ironically, having too much money can make all those things harder to achieve. If you’re wildly wealthy, do people love you for you or for what you can buy? If you’re so rich you needn’t work, what’s your purpose in life? And if you’re that loaded, are you invited into a group for your personality or your checkbook?

In our celebrity culture, the really rich also can be imprisoned by their wealth. They’re hounded by photographers. They’re besieged for donations. They fear for their safety or their family’s safety. At the same time, the money that’s supposed to buy them so much happiness brings them less and less.

“If you have too much wealth too easily, you get conditioned to being deprived of nothing,” says Jack Bodenstein, a Delray Beach psychotherapist. “Almost nothing satisfies you then.”

And yet some people with a hefty bottom line apparently can’t get enough.

Take Athina Onassis, 22, an equestrian who pops up occasionally in Wellington. The now-married daughter of Christina Onassis inherited roughly $1 billion after turning 18 in 2003. But as an adult she sued a charitable Greek foundation, The Onassis Foundation, established by her grandfather, Aristotle Onassis, for even more money, though the legal attempt failed when she didn’t follow through.

Who knows how wealth will affect little Dannielynn, but money didn’t help her mother. Before her death Thursday in Hollywood, Smith reeled from one tragedy to another.

The money she has been awarded in court battles didn’t spare her the recent death of her 20-year-old son. Nor did it polish the image of her previous life as a stripper, Playboy playmate and her laughable role as a reality show personality. In the end, her life was more fodder for jokes than admiration.

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