Sunday, February 12, 2012
Diamonds are a girls best friend if you are Barbara Hutton...
Born in New York City, Barbara Hutton was the only child of Edna Woolworth (1883–1917), a daughter of Frank W. Woolworth, the founder of the successful Woolworth five-and-dime stores. Barbara's father was Franklyn Laws Hutton (1877–1940), a wealthy co-founder of E. F. Hutton & Company (owned by Franklyn's brother Edward Francis Hutton), a respected New York investment banking and stock brokerage firm. She was a niece by marriage of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who was for a time (1920–1935) married to E.F. Hutton; thus their daughter, actress-heiress Dina Merrill (born Nedenia Hutton), was a first cousin to Barbara Hutton. Dina Merrill related on A&E's Biography of the Woolworths, that for a time Barbara lived with them following the death of her mother and abandonment by her father.
Edna Hutton committed suicide when Barbara was five years old.Young Barbara discovered her mother's body. After her mother's death, she lived with various relatives, and was raised by a governess. Hutton attended The Hewitt School in New York's Lenox Hill neighborhood and Miss Porter's School for Girls in Farmington, Connecticut. She became an introverted child who had limited interaction with other children of her own age. Her closest friend and only confidante was her cousin Jimmy Donahue, the son of her mother's sister.
In 1924, Barbara Hutton's grandmother died, leaving about $28 million, ($359,734,375 in today dollars) to Barbara in a trust fund worth $26.1 million and another $2.1 million in stock from her mother's inheritance to be administered by her father. By the time of her 21st birthday in 1933, her father had increased the amount to about $42 million ($712,051,546 in today dollars), not including the additional $8 million from her mother's estate through sound investments, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.
In accordance with New York's high society traditions, Barbara Hutton was given a lavish débutante ball in 1930 on her 18th birthday, where guests from the Astor and Rockefeller families, amongst other elites, were entertained by stars such as Rudy Vallee and Maurice Chevalier. The ball cost $60,000 ($789,360 in today dollars), a veritable fortune in the days of the depression. Public criticism was so severe that she was sent on a tour of Europe to escape the onslaught of the press.
Over the years, apart from an important inheritance which included Old Master paintings and important sculptures, she also personally acquired a magnificent collection of her own which included the spectrum of arts, porcelain,valuable jewelry, including elaborate historic pieces that had once belonged to Marie Antoinette and Empress Eugénie of France, and important pieces by Fabergé and Cartier. Among her pieces of jewelry was the 40-carat (8.0 g) Pasha Diamond, which she purchased as an unusual octagonal brilliant-cut but had recut into a round brilliant, bringing it down to 36 carats (7.2 g).