Onassis gave bulk of estate to children
By Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff
and Colum Lynch, Globe Correspondent, 06/02/94
NEW YORK -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis left the bulk of her estate to her
two children, and asked that they help maintain in death the privacy that she
so vigorously guarded while alive, according to her will, which was filed
In addition, the will gives offspring John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline
Kennedy Schlossberg the discretion to donate anything relating "to the life
and work of my late husband John F. Kennedy" to the John. F. Kennedy Library
However, she also asked in the will, filed in Surrogate's Probate Court of
New York County, that they do whatever possible to prevent her own personal
papers, letters or other writings from being made public.
"I request, but do not direct, my children to respect my wish for privacy
prevent the display, publication or distribution, in whole or in part, of
these papers, letters and writings," she wrote.
In the 36-page document, which she signed March 22, Onassis asked that
much of her estate be placed in a charitable trust run by her children, who
will determine how to disburse much of the money.
Onassis died May 19 from lymphatic cancer in her New York apartment. She
was 64. The widow of President John F. Kennedy was buried beside her
assassinated husband at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The will did not place a value on Onassis' assets. Estimates over the
years have ranged from $100 million to $200 million, though some reports
suggested Onassis gave away much of her wealth before her death.
Onassis' children each are to receive $250,000 and to share
property at Gay Head and Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard and "all my tangible
personal property," including furniture, objects of art, clothes, jewelry and
automobiles. The property includes the 15-room Fifth Avenue apartment in which
Onassis stipulated that within nine months of her death, her children
could "renounce and disclaim" the Vineyard property she bequeathed to them. In
that case, the property could be sold, with the proceeds going into charitable
In addition, Onassis remembered some of her closest friends and those
who had served her family for years with sizable financial gifts and some of
her most treasured possessions.
But the remainder of the estate is to be placed for 24 years in a
charitable trust called the C&J Foundation, to be directed and managed by her
children. Her longtime companion, Maurice Tempelsman, and her attorney,
Alexander D. Forger, were named as coexecutors of the estate.
Eight percent of the foundation's assets will be given annually to tax-
deductible organizations "committed to making a significant difference in the
cultural or social betterment of mankind or the relief of human suffering."
On the anniversary of her death in the year 2018, she directed, the
foundation's assets are to be divided among her grandchildren. If there are
no heirs alive at that time, the trust will be passed on to the descendants of
her sister and Michel Bouvier, her cousin.
Probate attorneys, who had not seen the will firsthand, said it seemed to
reflect Onassis' desire to give her children financial security while
sheltering her estate from taxes as much as possible. The attorneys said that
it is common to create such "generational skipping trusts" to avoid paying the
government a huge share of the holdings.
The estate's executors are required to file an estate tax return within
nine months of her death. Such returns generally contain a far more detailed
account of the value of the deceased's assets.
Onassis said in her will that she left no assets to her sister, Lee
Radziwill Ross, "for whom I have great affection, because I have already
done so during my lifetime." However, she directed her executors to set aside
$500,000 for each of Ross' children, Anthony and Anna Christina, in a trust
fund that is to expire 10 years after her death.
Onassis left $250,000 to Nancy L. Tuckerman, her longtime friend,
spokeswoman and "confidante," as Onassis described her in the will.
In appreciation for designing the White House Rose Garden, Rachel L.
Mellon, a longtime friend, received "my Indian miniature" called "Lovers
Watching Rain Clouds" and a larger one called "Gardens of the Palace of the
Tempelsman, the diamond magnate with whom Onassis lived at the time of
her death, received a remembrance that the will called "my Greek alabaster
head of a woman."
Onassis received $26 million from her late second husband, Greek shipping
magnate Aristotle Onassis, and reports in recent years suggested Tempelsman
helped her manage the money into a far larger sum.
Forger, her attorney, received a copy of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural
Address signed by Robert Frost, who spoke at the event. Tuckerman said Onassis
kept it in her apartment and called it "one of her most precious and treasured
Also cited in the will were:
- Hugh D. Auchincloss Jr., Onassis' stepbrother, who received the
historic Hammersmith Farm in Newport, R.I., which Onassis inherited from her
- Marta Squbin, the governess for Onassis' children and later governess
for the Fifth Avenue household, who received $125,000.
- Alexandra Rutherford, Onassis' niece, who received $100,000.
- Providencia Paredes, Onassis' personal maid at the White House, who
- Lee Nasso, Onassis' accountant, who received $25,000.
- Marie Amaral, her personal maid, who received $25,000.
- Efigenio Pinheiro, the butler at the Fifth Avenue apartment, who