How Paris Hilton Cost Her Family $4.5 Billion

By on September 21, 2019 in ArticlesEntertainment

(This article was originally published in 2013. We are re-publishing an updated version in September 2019 upon the death of Barron Hilton)….Despite Paris Hilton's hopes and dreams for growing her collection of pink Bentleys without much work, she'll likely have to pursue that dream on her own. That's because the patriarch of the Hilton family, Barron Hilton, plans to leave 97% of his estate to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation upon his passing, leaving just 3%to be divided among his numerous heirs. That wasn't always the plan. Reportedly Barron was all set to leave his entire $4.5 billion estate to his family but changed his mind in 2007 after being so embarrassed by what Paris had done to the Hilton name. This move will effectively double the holdings of the foundation named for his father, Conrad (who built the hotel empire from nothing), when Barron dies. Great for humanity, bad for Hilton heirs at large. Thanks to Paris, they just lost out on $4.5 billion.

History of the Hilton Fortune

Conrad "Connie" Hilton, recently portrayed as a needy, shoot-from-the-hip businessman in AMC's Mad Men, bought his first hotel in Texas in 1919, after a deal to buy a bank fell through. His timing was impeccable. The ongoing oil boom in the state ensured fully booked rooms that could sometimes be turned over three times in one day. He went on to build the high-rise Dallas Hilton in 1925, and followed with three more Hiltons in Texas over the course of the next five years. During the Great Depression, Conrad lost a number of his hotels and nearly went bankrupt — a small hiccup in an otherwise sterling career that saw his empire eventually expand to become the world's first international hotel chain. By 1966, his second son, Barron, replaced him as president of Hilton Hotels.

In 1979, at the age of 91, Conrad Hilton died of natural causes, leaving $10,000 each to his nephews, nieces, and daughter, and $500,000 to his two siblings. The remainder of the estate was bequeathed to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which he had founded in 1944. Barron contested his father's will after his death, despite the fact that he was being left as president of the corporation. A settlement was reached, leaving Barron with 4 million shares of the enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with 3.5 million shares, and the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust with 6 million shares.

Conrad Hilton

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Disinheriting Paris: Barron was reportedly very embarrassed by the antics of his granddaughter Paris Hilton. He reportedly felt that Paris and Nicky had ruined the Hilton name with their sex tapes, endless DUIs, reality shows and general tomfoolery. So, in Christmas of 2007 Barron Hilton announced his intention make a major change to his will. Instead of leaving his multi-billion fortune to his family, he instead chose to leave the bulk of his estate to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He specifically adjusted his will to leave 97% of his assets to charity, with 3% being split by roughly two dozen family members.

With this change, Barron effectively cut his entire family out of his personal fortune. So, instead of roughly two dozen people inheriting $4.5 billion, $190 million per person, those same people will split 3% of $4.5 billion. That's a total of $135 million, around $5.6 million per person. OUCH. I bet those cousins are pissed!

It's also been speculated that Barron cut Paris out of his estate entirely. Not that she needs the money, with a net worth of $300 million.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The mission of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, derived from Conrad Hilton's last will and testament, is to "relieve the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute" by focusing on areas of need — homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, natural disasters, children in need, and so much more. He wrote that the directors of the foundation should "shelter little children with the umbrella of your charity." Equal to any one of the six Nobel Prizes, at $1.5 million, the annual Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize is the biggest humanitarian award in the world. It is awarded annually to a non-profit organization that has made impressive advancements in easing human suffering.

Barron's $4.5 billion will up the foundation's assets to more than $6 billion. So in a way, the world should thank Paris Hilton for being such a terrible person for so many years!

Articles Written by Mark Kurlyandchik
A Soviet-born, Detroit-bred journalist and writer, Mark is currently a student at UC-Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he reports on the food and businesses of San Francisco's Mission District. Before furthering his studies, he was a senior editor at a monthly general-interest magazine in the Motor City. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Penelope. Follow him on Google+.
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