Heir Mail #23
Gemstones and mermaids and pecan rolls, etc.
Hello! You’re reading Heir Mail, the only newsletter to come from me (hi) setting a Google Alert for the word “heiress” and then just writing about whatever pops up.
This week, more rich people, just like you signed up for! Also I just realized that it’s actually Command + F and not CTRL + F that helps you find things on the computer (by reading Hunter Harris’s amazing newsletter) but also I’m just going to keep doing it??? So with that:
CTRL + F:
I asked exactly one Southerner about Stuckey’s and I was told “why would I not go to Waffle House.”
My mental state this week is: mermaid weddinggggggggggg!
The inspiration for Dame Edna’s looks was apparently a terrible mom <3 .
The Ecclezone gets the attention it deserves
From the rest of the alert: a headline goes incorrect, a (bunch of) picture(s) is worth $157 million, boyfriend butt, Mercedez meets Pot Noodle, “Courtesy Kaila Methven,” not boring!, “a roll of the genetic dice.”
“Heiress drives family’s legacy, Stuckey’s, on the road to revival,” Atlanta Journal Constitution
I had, frankly, a very bad attitude throughout this story about the current CEO of Stuckey’s, a roadside chain in the South famous for their pecan rolls. This could be in part because I have an aversion to business profiles, a mix of resentment of our economic system with unpleasant professional jealousy (I secretly feel that I should be asked to write any single business profile that exists, even though I am not a freelancer and I have written one, arguably two, ever).
I was cranky when the founding of Stuckey’s was described by the AJC as “a real-life testament to the American Dream.” I begrudged W.S. “Sylvester” Stuckey, Sr., the founder and grandfather to current CEO Stephanie Stuckey, when I learned that he started out with a $35 loan from his grandmother in 1937, because the idea that that amount of money could go anywhere makes me feel foot stampy (it’s about $643.80 today). I sort of glazed over the part where it said Stephanie “had led Sustainability Programming for The City of Atlanta,” but filed away the information that she spent over a decade in the Georgia House with the assumption that I’d find things to be mad about. And then honestly I got a little sarcastic with myself when she marveled that her grandfather had been friends with the founders of the Holiday Inn, The Waffle House, Chick-fil-A (“Oh of course they allllll know each other,” I thought, imagining something like a southern-fried hospitality Illuminati).
Stephanie Stuckey captioned this “Pecan log rolls & kitschy souvenirs aren’t your typical family fortune, but I’m proud to be “heiress” to the Stuckey name.” | @stuckeystop’s Instagram
When Stephanie served in the Georgia House, from 1998 to 2013, she went by Benfield, and so it’s under that name that you can find her Ballotpedia, which mentions that she worked in the public defender's office, and read her voting record. There you’ll find her voting nay on requiring drug testing “for certain welfare recipients” (whatever that means) and prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, and yes to alcohol on Sundays (I did not, in truth, read or understand her whole record; this newsletter is free). The same site, justfacts.votesmart.org, mentions that Stephanie was endorsed by the Atlanta Progressive News, which also ran a story that explains why she stepped down: she was redistricted into running against a fellow Democrat and friend, Howard Mosby, and went on to head up the city’s Sustainability programming (oh yeah). The same site said she “made numerous strides” in that role. According to APN, she was “one of the strongest progressive Members in the legislature, and one of the most active in terms of attending rallies and protests for progressive causes.” Anyways, at this point in my research, I feel like maybe a jerk who would die for Stephanie Stuckey.
Stephanie’s grandfather founded Stuckey’s, but, as the AJC story goes, the chain was “bought out by a large corporation” (merged with PET, Inc., makers of evaporated milk in the 1960s) “and with minimum oversight from its original founder, the quality of the brand started to go down.” The story does not mention — as I learned from our old friend Wikipedia — that her father, W.S. Jr, bought the company back in 1985.
Stephanie and her daughter at the courthouse from My Cousin Vinny | @stuckeystop’s Instagram
The ALC article says instead that she “wasn’t groomed” to take over the business (a phrase that does attract my attention), but “a couple of years ago, she was presented with the opportunity to purchase the remaining shares of Stuckey’s from shareholders.” She then used “a sizeable amount of her life’s savings” to buy shares “from her father’s business partners” and became CEO. This year, they started making their own candy again.
This is a fascinating way to elide but not really erase her father’s ownership while still casting aspersions on what 2018 Stuckey’s was doing to her family legacy (“It really broke my heart to drive by and see Stuckey’s stores that had turned into strip bars and poker lounges”). I don’t totally begrudge her. You can’t do a comeback without something to comeback from, and she’s on an Instagram tour of the country “to revive the classic road trip” (and “to elevate the pecan as ‘America’s Nut’”). It does seem like there’s some more story there.
Estimated net worth: $3 million according to Peopleai.com which, if they don’t know, who does.
“Singapore’s crazy rich Asian weddings, from a Disney’s Little Mermaid theme to Wang Leehom’s song dedicated to former boy band F4 singer Vanness Wu and Arissa Cheo,” South China Morning Post
Shoutout to a good subhed: “Rachel Wee, heiress to the Jean Yip Beauty salon group, married Ken Chen in an underwater-themed wedding at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina Bay.”
Enchantment Under the Sea *wedding,* I *like* it.
Do you think that fish is edible tho | @rachelbambi’s Instagram
What this subhed doesn’t make clear until I am already too invested is that this Singaporean wedding happened in 2019. Too bad, it’s the thing I’m most interested in writing about right at this moment! There was an aquarium! She entered on a “life-sized clam!” Her father, Mervin Wee, dressed up as the God of the Sea!
(The bride’s mother is the titular Jean Yip, who founded a hairdressing group in 1982 that now employs 800 stylists. She also has a chain of what this site calls “slimming centers.”)
Rachel told HerWorld that, “The wedding gown I eventually wore… was so different from the mermaid I envisioned myself wearing but did not suit my petite frame.” I love this quote, it is precious to me. She also says she’d “loved mermaids since watching The Little Mermaid,” which, strong same. This article has the picture of her dad as Triton that yes you DO need to find and scroll for.
You can catch a brief glimpse of Mervin as Triton in this video, but the real still is worth it. | @rachelbambi’s Instagram
The whole thing was featured on a show called My Crazy Rich Asian Wedding. I sort of appreciate that Asia’s rich have chosen to embrace this borderline insult as a signifier, because damn if I didn’t love those books. If you can’t beat them, buy them, etc.
Estimated net worth: I only got as far as her mom owns a $12 million house. I’m lazy this week! CRA shit often harder to find! But I did learn that her grandfather was upset about her mother’s chosen profession, as “he perceived hairdressing to be the profession of women who were second wives.” Priceless!
“Italian royal tiara fetches $1.6 million at Swiss auction,” NY Post
“Napoleon’s Daughter Owned a Kashmiri Sapphire, It’s Now Up for Auction,” Kashmir Life
Jewelry news! A Kashmir sapphire owned by Maureen Constance Guinness (and at some point Napoleon’s daughter) is up for auction and expected to catch $2 or 3 million. Sapphires from the region were mined out clean in only 20 years, so they’re particularly valuable, which at least kind of makes sense, unlike diamonds, which remain a dumb and murderous lie.
The honking sapphire in question! | Reuters
Maureen, I have to say, did it TO IT. For one thing, she lived almost the entire 20th century (1907 to 1998), which was probably the best way to do things, especially if you’re going to be very, very rich the whole time.
She also had a title, the “Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava” that she got by marrying her cousin, the Marquess Basil Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood. He died in WWII and she married twice more, to a former army officer who sold antiques (whom she eventually divorced), and a judge who loved the death penalty (she just moved away from that guy). Along with her sisters, Aileen and Oonagh, she was one of the “Guinness Golden Girls” before that sounded like a dig about age. She was the most-photographed of the three.
She was gorgeous (see below) but dressed quite ostentatiously (don’t see below, bad example I guess), and her later looks were reportedly the inspiration for Dame Edna. She also apparently loved practical jokes, which are the worst (especially from rich people, Christ), but I like the spirit anyways.
Maureen and her daughter Caroline, who grew up to be a WHOLE thing for another newsletter | Bassano & Vandyk Studios, 1974 Photographs Collection via Wikimedia commons
We’re relying on Wikipedia here, but I just love this sentence, “Her daughter Caroline once commented that her childhood was too painful to recount, and her eldest daughter Perdita stated that all her mother wished to talk about was her glory days in London society.” Thank you to the angels who edit that free encyclopedia.
Caroline, a fairly prolific novelist and terrifying fever dream in her own right, wasn’t fully 100% about the recounting though — she wrote at least one (Booker-shortlisted) novel specifically about her terrible childhood, called Great Granny Webster. The jacket copy reads “Great Granny Webster herself is a fabulous monster, the chilliest of matriarchs, presiding with steely self-regard over a landscape of ruined lives.” Maureen outlived her writer daughter by two years.
Estimated net worth: Maureen died in 1998, but the Guinness family was worth about £600 million (~$849 million) at the time.
The Ecclezone (TM)
Tamara continues to be a mum, this time on Mother’s day. Petra presumably entered and definitely exited a restaurant. The end!
From the rest of the alert
I hadn’t really experienced anything that made me feel like all of the heiress murder in this Google alert was really Getting To Me until I lost my mind at this headline about Anna Reed’s death calling it an “erotic game gone incorrect.” I wasn’t laughing, or crying — to the untrained eye, I was sitting stock still, staring at my computer sort of vacantly and unsmiling — but my brain was on the moon. Heir Mail #14 featured no fewer than seven separate headlines about this same horrific event, wherein a 22 year old woman was killed by her older male partner allegedly during sex, as having “gone wrong” and the very slight rephrase just sent my smooth little thinker on a rocket journey around the solar system. I’m lightly worried for my own humanity! There’s no new news.
If you were wondering how much cow heiress and Georgia O’Keefe museum founder Anne Marion’s art collection was worth at market, the answer is $157 million. This is “record-smashing.” Ah, the value of art! Who fucking knows!
FPB’s trainer boyf posted his butt by the pool. She’s still off Instagram, though, making her better than most of us, let’s face it.
Rich Kids Go Skint is BACK. We learned about the show back last December, but now there’s a new episode where the daughter of “one of Nigeria's richest families,” Mercedez (her grandpa “is involved in luxury car and engineering businesses,” as per the Irish Sun). She ate something called Pot Noodle, learned that a poor father “ate out of bins,” and saw a living room “smaller than her wardrobe." Netflix pick up this show!
Self-appointed KFC Heiress Kaila Methven eats Japanese food, wears a cleavage-baring dress and “matching hat,” and provides her own photos (“Courtesy Kaila Methven”) to a website called The Blast.
Gwen Graham is the niece of iconic heiress Katherine Graham from the Washington Post and The Movie The Post and the daughter of former Senator Bob Graham and the scion of a bunch of Florida land AND a former representative herself, who ran for Florida governor in 2018. She’s worth $27.2 million, according to Politico and her own financial disclosure forms, because she’s Biden’s nominee to be the Education Department’s assistant secretary of legislation and congressional affairs, which is perhaps slightly less exciting. Her family builds environmentally questionable mega malls but no one cares; she’s been quoted as saying “I’m not boring! I’m not boring! I’m not boring!”
The first female family member, Alexandra Ford English, has been elected to the board of Ford Motors. This is historic, says The Daily Mail. Okay! Someone mad says “That's why we don't have Kings and Queens anymore - it's a roll of the genetic dice.” Which like, okay, but also we do? Who’s we? They said that shit to the Daily Mail, lol. English went to Stanford and Harvard and worked at Tory Burch, and neither we nor she can ever really know if any of that was on merit, I guess. Maybe she’s smart and great at business, why not! She was elected along with her cousin, Henry Ford III, a man who used to be an English teacher and at least hopefully isn’t a wh-ild antisemite like his namesake. Her dad, Bill Ford Jr, is the current chairman and the company isn’t doing well. Bill’s still worth a billion dollars.
Created, it should be noted, but the CEO’s grandmother Ethel Stuckey.
I imagine someone shaking their finger at me for all of this web address. “Just facts! dot Vote Smart! dot org.”
It’s starts in asking the former sustainability advocate how she’s out there promoting increased car travel. Sorry, sorry, my brain is a prison; this lady has done more good with her life than I ever will.
And the movie. MAKE MORE!!!