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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fascinating story: Everything Was Fake but Her Wealth

Ida Wood had been living as a recluse in a New York hotel for 24 years when her sister died in 1931 and everything changed. One of her lawyers, who was unfamiliar with Ms. Wood, worked to figure out who this 93-year-old woman really was. For one thing, he discovered that despite her miserly lifestyle, she was quite wealthy.

A representative from Union Pacific revealed that the sisters owned about $175,000 worth of stock and had not cashed their dividends for a dozen years. Examining the sale of the New York Daily News, O’Brien learned that Ida had sold the paper in 1901 to the publisher of the New York Sun for more than $250,000. An old acquaintance reported that she sold all of the valuable possessions she’d acquired over the years—furniture, sculptures, tapestries, oil paintings. An officer at the Guaranty Trust Company remembered Ida coming to the bank in 1907, at the height of the financial panic, demanding the balance of her account in cash and stuffing all of it, nearly $1 million, into a netted bag. Declaring she was “tired of everything,” she checked into the Herald Square Hotel and disappeared, effectively removing herself from her own life.

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