The Incredible Life Of 101-Year-Old Banking Heiress Bunny Mellon

bunny mellon rose garden

Photo: AP Images/Wikipedia

At 101, Rachel Lowe Lambert Mellon, better known as Bunny Mellon, has lived most of her life outside the spotlight.That’s pretty impressive for the widow of banking legend Paul Mellon, whose net worth is an estimated $400 million.

But Mellon has been forced into the spotlight in recent years, not for her philanthropic work but in connection with two headline-making scandals.

In 2011 she lost an estimated $5.75 million in Kenneth Starr’s $59 million Ponzi scheme. And she’s become a figure in the ongoing John Edwards trial over a $725,000 campaign donation that he allegedly used to pay off his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

The New York Times’ Guy Trebay had a fascinating profile of Mellon in last weekend’s New York Times. The whole piece is worth a read, but we’ve pulled some of the more fascinating facts about the heiress’ life.

Mellon, daughter of the president of the Gillette Safety Razor Co. and granddaughter of the inventor of Listerine, was born into money.

But she became one of the wealthiest women in the world when she married banking heir and art collector Paul Mellon in 1948. It was the second marriage for both.

The couple maintained residences around the world, including a vast estate in Virginia, New York and Paris apartments, and homes in Antigua and Cape Cod that are currently for sale.

The Virginia estate, called Oak Springs Farm, has its own private airstrip for Mellon's Falcon 2000. It's helped Mellon maintain her privacy. She still lives there today.

An avid amateur gardener, Mellon has a 10,000-volume collection of botanical books. She helped redesign the White House Rose Garden and Louis XIV's potager du roi at Versailles.

She's also followed her late husband's footsteps to become an impressive art collector with a collection that includes some of Mark Rothko's best work.

Mellon is a true style icon. Givenchy designed everything from her underwear to her servants' uniforms.

She was a mentor to Jackie Kennedy, and even presided over the floral arrangement for JFK's coffin.

Source: The Daily Beast

She has a wide and eccentric circle of acquaintances, including Queen Elizabeth and Whoopi Goldberg.

Unlike many socialites, Mellon has striven to live her life in complete privacy.

But she hasn't always been successful. She's been dragged into the limelight during the John Edwards trial over a donation she made that he allegedly used to hide his mistress. A fan of Edwards who wanted to see him in the White House, Mellon reportedly donated more than $7 million to Edwards and his non-profits.

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