Friday, August 28, 2009

Passing the Bucks

Much has been written in the last few days about the death of Senator Edward Kennedy and his family’s future political involvement. But it’s one of the tidbits, rather than a thoughtful essay, that really caught my eye. Slate’s Christopher Beam addressed a pressing question:
Are the Kennedys still rich?

Yes--if you consider having tens of millions of dollars being rich. Ted Kennedy’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a savvy investor his whole life. Income from the various trust funds, real estate investments, and oil and gas leases he set up from the 1920s through the 1940s still yield income. He made most of his money, however, by purchasing retail giant Merchandise Mart in Chicago in 1945 for $12.5 million. Since then, it’s raked in hundreds of millions in revenue for the family. In 1998, the Kennedy clan decided to sell Merchandise Mart and other real estate properties for a total of $625 million and split the money. Different family members received different amounts. For example, Ted Kennedy received about $75 million, while members of the next generation, such as Caroline Schlossberg and John F. Kennedy Jr., received about $38 million each, according to one report.

Tax returns have yielded some insight into family funds as well. In the 1980s, Ted Kennedy’s income was shown to be about $500,000 a year. In 2007, his net worth was estimated to be as high as $163 million, based on campaign records. Caroline Kennedy managed to avoid filling out financial disclosure forms when she was employed by the New York City Department of Education--and dropped out of the New York Senate race before she had to--but estimates of her wealth range from $100 million to $400 million.
Beam addresses further Kennedy questions here.

No comments: