Show Mobile Navigation
 
Humans

10 Terrible Scrooges

Flamehorse . . . Comments

Christmas is nearly here! In four days we will all be opening our gifts and drinking and eating to satiety. In honor of this most important Christian holiday, here is a list about scrooges. “[Ebenezer Scrooge] lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”

10

Cato the Younger

Cato

Miserliness is defined as extreme frugality with money. The miser may spend very little on himself but a lot on others, or a lot on himself and very little on others, or, typically, very little at all. Cato of Utica was known for being fiercely moral in a time when it seemed no one in Rome gave even the slightest passing nod to morality. 99% of the politicians were so corrupt that there was no real point in voting for any of them. They promised a better life, but when they were elected, they ignored the people.

Cato was not those men. He campaigned for various political offices, winning some, losing others. His losses were not due to his extremely conservative politics, but because he refused to give or accept bribes or extort voters, which almost every other politician was doing all the time. Meanwhile, Cato garnered for himself a firm following among the public, more out of awe and disbelief at his impossibly high moral standard than his political brilliance.

He denied himself as many comforts as he could. His personal wealth is estimated to have been in the millions, and yet he lived in the most meager, sometimes squalid, rooms of the house he inherited from his uncle. When he moved out to pursue higher education and a career, he bought the cheapest house he could find. He drank only the cheapest wine he could buy in Italy, frequently traveling by carriage into the Appennine Mountains to buy it cheaper. He usually drank water from the Tiber or milk, and only begrudged himself wine because it was healthy.

He ate only until he did not feel hungry, and exercised as if he were tempering himself like steel: running as fast as he could until he collapsed and blacked out from exhaustion, waking up in frigid rain, taking off all his clothes and running as fast as he could back home. Anyone attempting to borrow from him was given money once. If they failed for any reason to return it, regardless of whether he could spare it in the first place, he never loaned them money again.

Plutarch states that the only time Cato spent lavishly for any reason was to pay for his brother’s magnificent funeral.

9

Joseph Nollekens

Josephnollekens

Nollekens was a British sculptor, perhaps the finest of the 18th century. The best source of information on him is in a biography his executor published, in 1828. This lister was not able to get his hands on a copy, and so this entry is rather sparse, but from the few snippets he was able to glean from elsewhere, Nollekens was a miser of the first order.

By the time of his death, as the most popular, sought-after scepter in England, he left an estate, including a beautiful country manor, worth 200,000 pounds sterling. Today, that would make him a multi-millionaire. Not exactly a starving artist, but then he was by his own volition, because he ate the cheapest foods he could find, and still haggled the grocers over single schillings. When asked his favorite food, he said, “Whatever is cheapest.” When asked his favorite wine, he replied, “Water from the Thames.”


8

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo-1

We know him as a Renaissance Man, history’s greatest sculptor, one of the greatest painters and architects, and yet, while he became very wealthy from his many pursuits, Michelangelo actively enjoyed depriving himself of any comfort he saw no need for. He told his workshop assistants and friends that he didn’t care what food tasted like. He knew of no food that was not palatable, and only ate what was cheapest in providing him a balanced diet. He preferred to drink water, but understood the health benefits of wine, drinking only the cheapest he could find.

His house was modest and abjectly squalid, infested with rats, and partially dilapidated, but in the coldest weather, he would not patch the holes in the walls, but simply put on another coat, or even go outside and jog for a while. He once stated that because he had never been bitten by a flea, the rats did not seem a nuisance to him. He wore the same, old dirty clothes, day after day, washing them and himself about twice a month in the nearest river or lake, even though the public bathhouses charged about 5 cents to enter. He wore a pair of shoes until the soles nearly came off, mindless of his exposed toes.

7

Ephraim Lopes Pereira d’Aguilar

Arms Aguilar

Pereira was born in Vienna in 1739, into a barony of the Holy Roman Empire, and thus never once wanted for money. He took his father’s title and married the daughter of another rich nobleman, increasing his fortune to a total of about 200,000 pounds sterling by his death. He outlived his wife and left his estate to his two daughters. He had never entrusted the money to a bank of any kind, instead hiding it in various small caches throughout the tiny shack he moved into to conserve his wealth.

His miserliness stems from losing a 15,000-acre plantation in America, when the American Revolution broke out. After this, he became extremely abstemious in all daily affairs, drinking only water, and sometimes eating only stale bread for months.

He sold all his opulent estates and moved into that tiny shack to further increase his income. The shack was nicknamed “Starvation Farm,” because he loathed feeding his cattle. He sold all his sheep once he discovered that sheep will eat grass all the way to the dirt, then dig up the roots and eat them, leaving no fodder at all. He then kept only pigs, cows, horses and a few kinds of bird. His second wife divorced him when he refused to give her any gifts or fine cuisine, which he could easily afford.

He was elected to the post of Warden of his local Portuguese synagogue in 1765, but had never wanted the post and refused to serve, until threatened with a very small fine. He preferred to serve as warden rather than pay it.

6

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie-2

Carnegie is the closest person on this list to Charles Dickens’s ideal of Ebenezer Scrooge, the changed man. Today, Carnegie would be worth around $300 billion. Bill Gates wishes. Carnegie remains, possibly, the second richest person who ever lived, factoring in inflation, surpassed only by John Davison Rockefeller.

He made his fortune in the US Steel Industry, which was the first corporation in world history to achieve a market capitalization over $1 billion. But while he was in charge of it and making the most money off it – sums beyond imagination – he deprived himself and most everyone around him of any of it. He stored most of his wealth in 50-year gold bonds, which do not depreciate, and he housed them in a special vault just for him, in a bank in Hoboken, New Jersey. He often went there, sat in the vault and admired the view. Meanwhile, he preferred to eat only when he was very hungry, and attended to his business in earnest in order to ignore any hunger pangs he felt. When he did eat, of course, he ate a lot.

He liked to go hunting, and stated once that if he missed any game animal with his first shot, he refused to take another for two reasons, first, that he shouldn’t have missed, and second, that ammunition was expensive.

Nevertheless, late in life, having always touted the degradation money brings to everyone who has a lot of it, he devoted his life to philanthropy, giving with extreme generosity to a variety of causes. He also wrote a famous newspaper article, “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he preached that the rich should give all but what they absolutely need to the poor and needy.

5

Edward Steubendorf

Orange-Juice

If you’ve heard of him, you impress this lister, who tracked down a newspaper clipping of him on the Internet. He died in 1891, at the age of 56, despite being worth an inherited $9,000, which today would be worth about $215,561.23, according to an inflation calculator. Yet he lived for the last 25 years of his life in a tiny, unheated apartment at 329 E. 10th Street, on Manhattan Island, NYC.

The only thing he was ever seen to spend money on was food, and that he bought from the cheapest vendors on the nearest street corner. Then he would run back inside, up the stairs to his bedroom, close and lock the door. If anyone wanted to see him, they would beat on his front door until he answered them through his closed bedroom window.

The night before he died, he did not call a doctor. He called a lawyer, whom he ordered to draft his last will and testament. He left all his money to the wife of his apartment building’s janitor, without giving a reason. He had somehow managed to starve himself over the outrageous price of food (in 1891, you could buy half a roasted chicken, potatoes, beans, bread, butter and jam, milk, coffee, and an entire quart of lager beer for a total of $1.50), and died of malnutrition, exacerbated by a perforated ulcer, which is quite painful. The doctor who examined him knew of his medical problem (and why he suffered from it) and estimated at Steubendorf’s death that, had he eaten one apple and drunk a glass of orange juice the night before, he could still have survived. An apple and a glass of orange juice cost 3 cents back then.


4

Tiger Woods

Tiger-Woods-Picture-3

In spite of his marital infidelities, he actually does play quite a good game of golf when everything’s clicking. So he didn’t lose his entire fan base when those infidelities came to light. But this lister met him once, in Pinehurst, NC. Well, met him, more or less. I, FlameHorse, was just a member of the crowd behind him as he teed off at the sixth hole, and because I have a loud (but rather pleasant), bass voice, Woods looked up at me as he was walking to the tee. He didn’t smile. He just glared. He glared at everyone. He did not tip his hat until he saw that his tee shot was good. Really, he was tipping his hat to the ball, not the crowd.

And on the subject of tipping, Woods apparently loathes having to do it. So much so that many times, according to the rampant stories, he simply doesn’t. He is worth around $600 million, as of this list, down considerably from his peak of $1 billion. And yet, once when he was about to tip a restaurant waitress $5, he remembered that he had already tipped her $5, and put the second bill back in his pocket.

In the wake of his infidelities, which set the golf world on its ear, one of the hundreds of women who alleged affairs with him stated that he would take her out to dinner, and tell the waiter that he would like his meal for free, “because I’m Tiger Woods.” The waiters always scoffed, of course, but Tiger never stopped trying this, according to the scorned mistress. He never tipped more than $10, even after a $1000 meal, and sometimes did not tip at all. Other alleged mistresses quickly echoed this sort of story.

He is a very skilled blackjack player, and once took a casino in Las Vegas for several hundred thousand dollars in one night, then took from his penthouse suite all the towels, soap, shampoo, coffee, stationery, even the toilet paper. He almost always refuses to sign autographs, even when asked by little children, and he is said to have been overheard telling a caddy, “If they don’t expect to pay for the autograph, I don’t expect to sign one for free.”

3

The Collyer Brothers

Collyer-House-480

Whereas, the rest of the entries on this list seem to be simply unhappy about parting with their money, the Collyer Brothers were psychotic about it. In addition to their miserliness, they were also extremely compulsive hoarders. They were born in 1881 and 1885, and both died within a week or so of each other, in 1947, in a sensational situation of insanity and noisome squalor.

Homer, the elder, earned a degree in law from Columbia University. Langley claimed to have one in engineering from Columbia, but there is no proof. They were both very intelligent, inherited what today would be worth about 2 to 3 million dollars, and as the years went on, they both degenerated into lunacy.

When their father abandoned the family and moved into a new house, his wife followed, and the brothers simply stayed in their parents’ old house, in Harlem. When their parents died, despite having a mountain of wealth, they simply brought all their parents’ belongings to the Harlem house and lived there for the rest of their lives. Neither ever married. They probably died virgins.

Once the neighborhood started the rumor mill about valuables inside the brownstone house, people would idly throw rocks and bricks through the windows, looking for a way in. Langley proceeded to booby trap the entire house, all three stories of it, with whatever supplies availed themselves. After some 50 years in that house, they had acquired 130 tons of worthless junk from all over NYC, with which Langley was able to fashion some very elaborate traps, most of them involving 100-pound bundles of old newspapers hanging from 10 feet.

Their utilities were all turned off for lack of payment on the bills, even though they could easily afford them. Once the house became an eyesore and a fire hazard, the Brothers refused to pay the bank the mortgage on their house. So the city attempted to evict them, until Langley simply wrote a check for all their utility debts and the mortgage, $6,700. Today, that would be about $90,000. The check did not bounce.

That was in 1942. Five years later, they were dead. On March 21, 1947, a fetid stench began annoying the neighborhood, so the police were called to the house. They could not get in, because after breaking in through the doors and windows, they were faced with colossal, filthy walls of junk from floor to ceiling, so much of it that they could not immediately locate the source of the stench, noting that it was more than would emanate from a rat. It took 2 solid hours for a policeman to crawl through the house to Homer’s body, sitting slumped over in a decrepit chair, naked except for a bathrobe, shaggy beard and hair down to his shoulders. His fingernails were six inches long. He had starved to death, being so arthritic that he could not get up.

But he was not the source of the stench – Langley was. A manhunt was ordered at first, but he was not found for 3 weeks. His body was only 10 feet from Homer’s. It took that long to remove all the junk from that room of the house. Langley had died by being crushed under one of his own newspaper traps, attempting to bring peanut butter and bread to Homer. The junk they had taken from the streets and derelict buildings during that time amounted to a value of less than $2,000. The rest was simply burned. They had been living like this, despite their dazzling wealth, for half a century.


2

Hetty Green

Hetty Green-1

Green is a stockbroking legend. She was nicknamed “the Witch of Wall Street.” She preferred to wear a long, flowing black dress, and upon her death only one was found in her wardrobe. She wore it day after day, rarely washing it or herself. She was worth some $200,000,000 at her death, in 1918, which today would be worth somewhere around $3.5 to 4 billion.

She was one of the finest talents in the history of business, adhering to her philosophy of conservative buying backed by substantial cash reserves. She bought shares of railroads, and real estate, and she had so much money that she personally bailed out all of New York City on at least 3 occasions, writing checks for millions and taking short-term revenue bonds in repayment.

But for all her fabulous wealth, she loathed spending for anything. She offered a preview of coming attractions before entering the investment world: her aunt was worth $2 million, which she willed to various charities, among them an orphanage and children’s hospital. Green sued over this will, producing one her aunt drew up years before, willing everything to Hetty, and then proceeded to take the money back from the charities.

She lived for years in her Wall Street office, to save on heating her apartment, and ate cold oatmeal she warmed up on the office radiator. She personally set out from New York to Iowa once, by herself, via a single-horse buckboard wagon to collect on a debt of $350. When she arrived, the man who owed her had just died. She collected it from his grieving wife. She then traveled back the same way, sleeping in wooded areas beside the roads when the weather permitted. This was a time when women dared not travel alone, but she was armed with a revolver and a shotgun, both of which she borrowed from a Wall Street colleague.

Her most infamous moment of stinginess came when her young son, Ned, broke his leg and required medical treatment lest he lose the limb. Green took him to a free hospital intended for the homeless, and told them she had no money. They treated him for one day before someone recognized her and demanded she pay. When she insisted she was not Hetty Green, the doctors threatened to call the police, whereupon she paid her bill, took Ned home and attempted to treat his leg herself. This didn’t work, and after years of her quack methods of poultices and vitamins, his leg had to be amputated.

A few years before she died at the age of 81, she suffered a severe rhomboidal hernia (mid to lower back), and refused to have it treated for $150, insisting on coping with the pain. She died of a series of strokes culminating in a hemorrhagic argument with a housemaid over the fact that skim milk is just as nutritious as whole milk, and half the price.

1

John Elwes

Scrooge

Charles Dickens is believed to have been inspired to create Ebenezer Scrooge after reading about John Elwes. Elwes (no relation to the guy from The Princess Bride) was a member of the lower House of Parliament from 1772 to 1784, dying at 75 years old, in 1789. He inherited all of his wealth from his father and uncle, a total of some 350,000 pounds sterling, which, today, would be worth around 19 million pounds.

He did not seem to have much of a problem loaning money to friends and colleagues, many of whom conveniently did not pay him back, and nevertheless, his investments increased in value until his death. He left an estate to his illegitimate sons, amounting to 500,000 pounds, or about 28 million pounds today. That’s about $43.5 million dollars.

Yet for his entire adult life, he managed to live on less than 50 pounds a year. He wore the same clothes day after day, regardless of how offensive his stench was to others, and only bathed in the Thames River, rather than have water carried to his country mansion (an inherited mansion) and heated up over a fire. As such, he was only able to bathe in warm weather, which required that he spend the entire winter without washing. He saw nothing wrong with this.

He found it intolerable that sparrows stole his hay for nests, and he liked to hunt them around his estate. When visitors came, he would secretly steal his hay from their horses to conserve, despite the fact that this is one of the very few uses hay had back then.

He bought only what food was cheapest and drank only water. He would eat off a wild deer carcass for months, even after putrefaction set in, simply cooking it longer to be sure it would not make him sick, which it frequently did. He almost never kept house servants for long, because of the squalid living conditions and meager pay he expected would suit them. He walked in the pouring rain, rather than buy an umbrella, and often sat at supper in his soaked clothes, instead of spending firewood to dry them.

He did have a nearly permanent housemaid, who claimed to witness him eat a small hen that a rat dragged out of the Thames. She died of overwork and malnutrition. He refused to pay for the upkeep of his mansion, letting it crumble to ruins around him, until it was condemned as a fire hazard. The chimneys collapsed and knocked holes in the roof, but he would not have anything fixed.

By that point, near the end of his life, his realty investments had enabled him to buy other mansions and cottages in the countryside around London for profits that did not eat into his inheritance. Not one of these properties did he have kept up. When his family’s mansion was deemed unfit to live in and condemned, he simply moved into one of his other properties and lived there, regardless of how unfit it was to live in.

By the time of his 70s, the walls of all his houses were crumbling in; the roofs had fireplace-size holes in them, and he simply moved from one bedroom to another to sleep where there was shelter. He refused to light fires for warmth, preferring an extra blanket or two. He wore the same clothes for so long that people mistook him on the street for a common beggar and gave him pennies, which he gladly kept.

On his deathbed, rather than send for a doctor, he sent for a lawyer to draw up his 800,000 pound will, whom Elwes forced to work by light of the fireplace (as it was too cold even for multiple blankets), rather than light a single candle.

He once loaned 7,000 pounds to a colleague for a bet on a horserace at Newmarket. On the day of the race, Elwes rode alone on his own horse, rather than rent a carriage, from Suffolk to Newmarket, which was 14 hours one way by horse. The racehorse was a long shot, and not only lost the race but dropped dead of a heart attack on the racetrack. During his entire trip to the races, Elwes refused to stop anywhere for food, but instead found a piece of cooked pancake in his coat pocket that had been there for 2 months – he happily ate it.

He often rode to and from work at the House of Parliament on the same, underfed horse, with only a single hard-boiled egg in his pocket for lunch or supper. In his last years, he moved lodging between several of the unrented cottages he owned, sleeping without heat and almost no furnishings. He didn’t even pay for glass to be installed in the windows. He died of old age and malnutrition, complicated by exposure to the cold, on November 26, 1789.



  • Batman

    I love Scrooge.

    • Quetzal

      it would seem that the more money one has, the more profound the respect for it in a material sense, and therefore the individual would be less inclined to part with it

      • Mrs Marvel

        I don’t know if it would be respect for money that prevents the wealthy from parting with it. More like greed.

  • ChristHeezy

    GOLF WANG

    • squid

      free earl!

  • David Hopkins

    When the Ghost of Christmas Past visited, Scrooge’s sister, Fran, said, “Father is so much kinder now.” I wonder if that is because Scrooge’s father was also visited by three spirits.

  • Nate

    Finally a truly well thought-out, intresting list. Thanks!

  • jfraker

    From wiki: “In his diaries, Dickens states that Scrooge stems from a grave marker which he saw in 1841, while taking an evening walk in the Canongate Kirkyard in Edinburgh. The headstone was for the vintner Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, a relative of Adam Smith, who had won the catering contract for the visit of George IV to Edinburgh and the first contract to supply whisky to the Royal Navy. The marker identified Scroggie as a “meal man” (corn merchant), but Dickens misread this as “mean man”, due to the fading light and his mild dyslexia. Dickens wrote that it must have “shrivelled” Scroggie’s soul to carry “such a terrible thing to eternity”. The grave marker was lost during construction work at part of the kirkyard in 1932.”

  • Intersting hah

  • Bullamakanka

    I once dated a gal whose father, a retired aerospace engineer worth a sizeable fortune, was so miserly that he refused to pay for anything. The roof was in disrepair and leaking, and he claimed he was going to fix it himself rather than pay someone to do it. He wasn’t in any physical condition to do that kind of work, so of course the roof remained unfixed. They had no washer or dryer (too expensive), so everything was washed at a laundromat or by hand. He was easily enraged, going off on how he hated having to buy “c— rags” (feminine hygiene products) for his wife. He was a significant reason for my decision to break off the relationship. No regrets.

    • He sounds like a charmer.

    • Reminds me of Mr Mean from the Mr Men series

  • I read somewhere that Hetty Green’s son Ned, following her death, took it upon himself to spend the money his mother had left behind, I hope for his sake it’s a true story.

    • Baldguy

      Agreed!

    • Lisa Marie

      Yep it is said that Ned became the biggest spender in history. Even the plant pots had precious stones inlaid in them and they were made of gold. Apparently he was making up for all the money she did not spend on him and his sister. He killed himself spending her money, and even after he died, that was still a considerable sum, which I think was given to charities. His sister married late in life, and her husband had to sign a contract stating he wanted no piece of Hetty’s money. She wore one panty. He black dress actually turned dark green from age. I think her funeral was pretty miserly as well.

      Tiger Woods is simply selfish.

  • Mob

    Wow. Awesome list. These people were the personification of greed. God Damn.

    Well, most “over-rich” people are greedy anyway.

    • Marie

      I think it’s clear that many of these people suffer from mental disorders. Lack of attention to personal hygiene is a pretty indicative symptom for a variety of anti-social disorders. Hetty seems to have suffered from compulsiveness and extreme paranoia, and those brothers were clearly hoarders. Plus I think I read on another list that Michaelangelo has been suspected of autism.

      And yes, I realize a lot of this is armchair psychology.

      • Maria

        stop pretending you know anything about psychology please

        • Troll Banisher

          Stop pretending you understand English please!

      • VintageObsessive

        Your line regaurding Michaelangelo and autism is evidence of what happens when people take a list as fact when there is no proof to back it up. It is pure speculation and shouldn’t be given as a reason why Michaelangelo may or may not have been a “Scrooge”.

  • Mob

    inb4 Arsnl, Maggot, Mira Bel.

    • Maggot

      I should charge you for invoking my name. And then not give it to charity.

      • ARSE

        Mob and Maggot profile picture look about the same only one is black.

        • bigski

          uncool dude….

          • Maggot

            Consider the source, man. Not even worth it…

  • woooaahhthere

    Top list!

  • Moses

    Awesome list!!

  • odin

    cato was not a scrooge by any definition just because some rich guy lived modestly doesnt make him a scrooge.

    • Arsnl

      And i’m not sure that putting people with an obvious mental illness is correct. Scroogr wasnt nuts. Oh wait i forgot. He was visited by 3 ghosts and travelled through time. Yeah i guess he was crazy.

      But you have to love FH’s preciseness. He knows for a fact 99% were very corrupt. And he knows a bath house cost 5 cents during Michelangelo’s time. (Im not sure what the 5 cents are though).

      • Arsnl

        Stop using my name on comments f&cker! Seriously, how lame can you be?!?!?

        • Arsnl

          What are you talking about? This is my name I have been using for years now. How lame can I be? I’m not lame enough for you to stop trying to steal my identity.

          • Arsnl (the original!)

            seriously, I’ve had this name for 3 years and I’m a regular to LV!! Ask anyone here…people know me and will vouch that this is my name. Thief and a troll!!

          • Arsnl

            Aww. I love you. You rascals. Never give up guys. Never give up on me. I need groupies. :-). I hope one day to get on LV and see everybody using the name Arsnl. And that day will come. Because Arsnl is destined for greatness. Today we guys. Tomorrow the world!

          • Arsnl the 1st

            I demand an apology and my name back. I have been coming to listverse for years and now this is how I am treated. I have given hours of my morning commenting smart, witty, info packed comments all for your reading pleasure. Now everything I once loved is ripped from my heart. You hold my heart in your hands, shouting words that fall heavy on yearning ears, they seek the wisdom that only I can give, yet they listen to an imposter.

        • Arsnl the offended

          How DARE you???!!!!

          • Arsnl the Troll

            Problem?

      • bigski

        someones fukin with u i think…..

  • DanF

    When i first saw the title of this list I was a bit disappointed and did not plan on reading it…however absolutely terrific list, well researched and thoroughly interesting. Best list I have seen on here for a while. Thankyou.

    • mrbrytsyd

      You must be kind of new here… It’s a list by Flamehorse, undeniably the best lister in Listverse… Anything written by him is quite a good read… Objective, well written and well researched… He is the only lister whose works I read entirely…

      • mrbrytsyd

        and he never failed to deliver…

        • segues

          Flamehorse and Blogball are out preeminent listers, absolutely!

          • Shut It

            It’s *our*, Stupid Segues.

          • HaHaHaHa! I love typos!!!

      • Arsnl

        You must be kind of new here and never heard of Blogball.

        • mrbrytsyd

          Sure, I know blogball and you can add LordZB, but I think FH is better than them, that’s why, for me, he is the best… It never occurred to me that “BEST” can be plural… And if less than two years of lurking is “new” to you, then I concede…

      • DanF

        Not massively new, I have been visiting daily for over a year, i have had a list published also. I just don’t normally take note of who has written the lists.

    • Arsnl

      Yeah. He’s a great story teller but ive seen him talk about things i knew and noticed that sometimes he likes to mention facts that are really obscure and really hard to check for veridicity. Sure they appear on some blog on the internet. But sadly they only appear on some blog on the internet.
      But yeah. Great story teller.

  • Missy

    What a bunch of silly scrooges. I also read that Hetty Green’s black dress was turning green with the mould growing on it.

  • Will Trame

    If only the wealthy of today would pay heed to the final sentence listed under Carnegie. I expected to see the Collyer Brothers and Hetty Green on this list. Alas, it seems that the richest are frequently the cheapest. More’s the pity.

    • Arsnl

      ” it seems that the richest are frequently the cheapest”
      And also the least aware of what’s around them i guess. Take for example Woods. He seems to not understand that his fame is worth jack if someone can’t profit from it. Im pretty sure many restaurants would pay his meal, only if they could advertise it. And since they can’t. Well pay up.

      • Julius

        Go back to having no avatar please Arsnl. This is confusing me.

        • Arsnl

          Well as you can see the internet created an evil twin for me. Thereby forcing me to use the account i made back in the day when we had to have an account for LV to avoid these trolls.

          I think it’s kinda cool someone is really taking his time. I did not realise i had such an effect on someone. I know im important but this real attention someone is giving me is awesome. I wonder if he would dress up like me. And if it’s a she I hope she doesnt like doing freaky things. Like cutting up herself to feel she’s alive. Don’t hurt yourself Arsnl fan. I believe in you :-)

  • Armin Tamzarian

    That’s not Cato minor, but Cicero.

    Also, Cato wasn’t a Scrooge, but a principled philosopher. In those days, philosophers taught their ideas, not (only) by verbal means, but also by being an “exemplum”, i.e. an example for others. Cato’s philosophy, stoicism, taught that money was just a “accidentium”, something that didn’t matter for being happy. In fact, training for poverty was highly encouraged for reasons of preparedness. Another stoic, Seneca minor, wrote about this explicitly in his “Epistulae ad Lucilium” (also known as “Epistulae Morales”)

    So, while one can argue that Cato took being an example way to far, he didn’t live the poor life because of his love of money, but because of his love of stoicism.

    • Armin Tamzarian

      The bust, I mean. It’s usually said to be Cicero, and not Cato minor.

  • MeDan

    Despite their constant exposure to horrible weather and their appalling lack of nutrition, several of these people lived to quite an advanced age for the time. Maybe there’s something something healthy about this self-denial…

    • I concur!

    • mom424

      It actually is true – frugality leads to longer life. Keeping yourself just this side of starvation is beneficial. I can’t remember the exact mechanics of it, but it has something to do with minimizing exposure to free radicals – free radicals are responsible for cell death and contribute greatly to aging.

    • oak

      they have done studies!!!
      http://www.pnas.org/content/101/15/5524

      • Arsnl

        Yeah but those studies are done on mice and you also have this:
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163705000127

        And im not certain that a normal caloric diet with exercise does not have the exact some effects. Much of our evolution is due to our diet and the fact that our brain needs energy to keep working.

        Also even if there may be some advantages to frugality, they would, without a doubt, be canceled by drinking untreated water (FH claimes they drank for rivers, I got otitis because i fell in a tributary of the Seine while rowing so I’m pretty sure that water is pretty unsafe to drink) or eating stale food.
        Maybe these people simply had acces to a physician.

      • Yes, being underweight and strong is healthier.
        This is a somewhat more inclusive article about the subject. While this one only discusses women, there are studies which speak to men as well.

        http://thinandhealthy.livejournal.com/152967.html

        • FlameHorse

          When I die, I’ll be eating doughnuts.

  • segues

    Fabulous list! Well done and well researched, Flamehorse (as is usual with your lists).

    I was happy to see two of my favorite nut-cases or scrooges, included: the Collyer Brothers and Hetty Green. I first ran across them in a book of oddities I read many years ago and thereafter went out of my way to learn more about them. I’ve even used the term “going Collyer” about someone who is acting absurdly miserly without cause.

    I knew about some of the others, but Steubendorf was entirely new to me. He certainly does embody the type. Tiger Woods was a surprise entry. I sort of figured with all of his mistresses, girlfriends and assorted liaisons he’d have to be spending pretty freely. Guess some people feel being in the presence of a celeb is payment enough.

    Thanks for another enjoyable, educational, and highly interesting experience. I now have to garner more information on the entries I was unaware of!

    • FlameHorse

      You’re a sweetheart. :)

    • Shut It

      You’re disgusting.

  • These guys are what make Christmas interesting.

  • Handrejka

    I never tire of hearing about the Collyer Brothers, they’re fascinating. I don’t think I’d have liked to have met them though.

  • vanowensbody

    Great Christmas season list as always from Flamehorse.

    Thanks for mentioning Woods. What a Scrooge.

    • bullamakanka

      Celebrities rarely tip. A fellow limo driver, in the business eight years, never got a single tip from a celebrity.

      (The biggest tips I’ve gotten are from families picked up/dropped off for a funeral. Happens more often than not.)

  • Justin

    Excellent list! One not listed I always think of is Leona Helmsley

  • Interesting list, by the title I wasn’t sure I was going to read it but glad I did.

    I have heard of Hetty Green, but didn’t remember that was her name, about half way through I realised it all sounded familiar.

    I wonder was there some mental illness involved with many of them. I understand being careful with money, but to the point of malnutrition seems like it is part of an illness.

  • Iain

    Every state needs a Cato, a reminder of what rulers should aspire to even if they won’t try to get there. At least he believed in and carried through his principles: on the losing side in the civil war with Julies Caesar he committed suicide rather than allow Caesar the kudos of giving him amnesty (as the Dictator had offered). He felt it was better to die than be beholden to the man he said (correctly) was going to destroy the Roman Republic.

    • yahmule

      Cato’s morals should be considered against the fact that he was a proud and prosperous slumlord.

  • Grey21

    Best list I’ve see in a long time! Thank you!

  • mom424

    Wonderful job Flamehorse; well planned, researched and executed. As always. :)

    I was expecting to see Hetty Green as number 1; I do believe she’s the most famous miser of the lot (and the only one that came to mind when I read the list – family members excepted), and rightly so. Nice change up. Pretty sure those Collyer brothers would make fodder for that crappy Hoarders reality show. It’s amazing how mentally ill and miser are somewhat interchangeable.

    Personally though, I’m siding with the Scrooges – what a colossal waste of money and resources. The important things; visiting family, tending to those who have none, extending charity to all; have been lost to the gimmes. Gimme this iPhone, gimme that PS3. Not this chicky, not this year.

    Bah Humbug!

    • Arsnl

      “colossal waste of money and resources”
      Well that waste of money is also helping the economy. And while people who have should do charity, I am generally against private charity. Sure there is Bill Gates, but there was also Kelloggs with his crusade againt Mister Bates. Or catholic grants for example. I remember in Belgium a list of grants for students (posted on a uni message board) that had requierements as: being a choir boy for i dont know what church or part of i don’t know catholic organisation. Meh.

      I have beef against salary models frankly. With jobs that require creativity and intelligence, higher pay doesnt mean better results. That thing only works with low level jobs.

      • mom424

        I believe in private charity; not necessarily the kind that requires tons of money. I tend to my next door neighbour who otherwise would have to either pay for private care or move into a nursing home. I charge her a stipend – enough so that she doesn’t feel guilty (nor her sons) calling me. I also tend a crazy Aunt – visit her, do her housework, change her sheets, buy her booze…:). I also believe in seed money for cottage industries, as charity. It’s usually not much and it’s a hand up not a hand out.

        Do I have charity for the junkies? The single moms I know that choose to be that way? Nope. Well that’s not entirely true – supply charity for their children so they don’t end up (at least not ALL of them) in the same boat. Also believe in funding anything that promotes tolerance. ie; –
        http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/countering-extr

  • oak

    i’m not sure what it is about flamehorse’s writing style but it takes me a moment or two to adjust to it…

    its like when you read six or seven books by the same author and then switch to a new author and subject and it feels wrong somehow…then the feeling passes and is forgotten

    not that i’m complaining about his/her lists just commenting on my own brain

  • carlos

    #9 Joseph Nollekens reminds me of Kramer from Seinfeld

  • John Sherman

    Excellent list. One good thing from Hetty Green that I recall reading was that after her son finally lost his leg, it lead to research that developed the automatic transmission. Anyone know if that’s true?

    And now we need a list of anti-Scrooges: Rich people who went nuts spending their money!

  • lorcal

    I would like to know more about Flamehorse! Surely he has

    had material published in other venues. Where can we read more

    from him? He is awesome.

    • FlameHorse

      Trust me, I’m trying to get a book published. :)

      • lorcal

        Flamehorse, Thanks for answering. Be sure and let all your fan’s know when you have something we can buy. Best of luck!

      • I wish I’d known you about 7 years ago! I was working with several authors, knew editors in the publishing houses, agents, too. By now, everyone has moved on and I’m way out of that biz…I’ve tended to working fields which require constant upkeep…but WOW! I’d have worked with you in a heartbeat!

        • FlameHorse

          Thanks. :)

  • Matt

    nicely timed list

  • herefromthestart

    the tiger stuff is not entirely true

  • FlameHorse

    Glad everyone liked it, and Merry Christmas.

  • Evan

    I’m surprised Steve Jobs isn’t on the list.

  • Spooty

    “most important Christian holiday”?

    Well, I’m an atheist and it is kind of amusing to get a little confirmation that Christmas may be usurping Easter in importance.

    • G.I Joe

      If Jesus hadn’t have been born then he couldn’t have died for our sins (as terrible as that sounds). So if it wasn’t for Christmas we wouldn’t have Easter.

      • Maggot

        I can’t speak for the writer’s intent, but I didn’t read that line as a claim that it was THE most important Christian holiday, but rather that it was A most important holiday. There’s a subtle difference there. Kind of dumb to debate this anyway though.

  • myself

    Complete scans of Nolleken’s (#9) biography (1829 and 1895 editions) can be found on-line on the Internet Archive (a great FREE resource) at the following urls:

    Nollekens and His Times, by John Thomas Smith
    http://www.archive.org/stream/nollekenshistime00s
    1895 edition

    Nollekens and His Times, by John Thomas Smith, edited and annotated by Wilfred Whitten, vol. 1
    http://www.archive.org/stream/nollekenshistime01s
    1920 edition of 1829 book

    http://www.archive.org/stream/nollekenshistime02s
    Nollekens and His Times, by John Thomas Smith, edited and annotated by Wilfred Whitten, vol. 2

    1920 edition of 1829 book

  • joe13

    Never had a bad thought about Tiger Woods. Not till today.

    • Seriously? You didn’t find his behavior toward his wife, the mother of his children, repugnant? You didn’t find his behavior toward the other women in his life, the reported (and substantiated by victims) mistreatment of his many mistresses, girlfriends, and one-night-stands, repugnant?

      huh…

  • Alan

    Sports Illustrated did a 1996 profile on Cincinatti Reds owner Marge Schott. Despite being worth ~$40 million, Schott wore donated clothes, drove a beat-up Buick, paid her employees next to nothing and rarely purchased office supplies.

    Other examples: Sam Walton driving his old pickup truck, and Jean Getty installing a pay phone in the guest cottage.

  • VintageObsessive

    Awesome list, Flamehorse! Interesting sidenote, your list sparked my interest in Hetty Green so I looked her up on Wikipedia. The wiki article claims that, while Hetty did in fact challenge her deceased aunt’s will, the courts did not rule in her favor and she was not given her aunt’s money. Of course, this is Wiki, so it’s entirely possible that information is inaccurate.

    FH, where did you get the info about her winning the lawsuit and taking back the money from the charities? Just curious which is correct. :)

    • FlameHorse
      • VintageObsessive

        Thanks for the info. It appears that the contributor of the Hetty Green Wiki article needs to get their facts straight. Perhaps Flamehorse could use his knowledge to edit it? ;)

        • Maggot

          All due respect to Flame, but he cited one source, a book, the Amazon link to which doesn’t tell us much, though I’ll assume that he’s got a copy of it. However, is it possible the book might be wrong? Wiki at least cites the actual court case: Robinson v. Mandell, 20 F. Cas. 1027 (C.C.D. Mass. 1868) (No. 11,959).

          This case, aka the “Howland will case” or the “Howland will forgery trial” (Sylvia Howland was the aunt, Thomas Mandell the Executor of the will), was actually somewhat famous for it being possibly the earliest example in U.S. law of the use of statistical and probabilities an.alysis in comparing Howland’s alleged signature on Green’s earlier version of the will (dated Jan 11, 1862) with other known signature samples. Ultimately all this an.alysis and evidence of forgery wasn’t considered, as the court ruled that Robinson (Green’s maiden name at the time of this trial) couldn’t testify about the earlier will because she stood to benefit by it, hence a conflict of interest (something to that effect), and so long story short, the later version of the will (dated Sep 1, 1863) was ruled to be the effective version:

          http://books.google.com/books?id=4U8ZAAAAYAAJ&amp

          Scroll to the end of page 663…the entire case is outlined in great detail on pages 625-663, but it’s pretty dry reading. The tedious explanation of the final ruling begins on page 656.

          • FlameHorse

            Yeah, books can be wrong. If the court case is cited, I go with that. But anyway, the point is that she actually tried to take money away from charities.

          • Maggot

            Yeah, she was definitely a whack job, no dispute there. It was a good list, Flame. :-)

        • VintageObsessive

          I didn’t look at the cited case info on Wiki, I just assumed (foolishly) that a printed book would be more factual than, say, a website where anyone on Earth can post information. That was my bad!

  • bigski

    very good offering mr horse…..really liked it.

  • LSUTigersLauren

    As a sociology grad student, these pple are great case studies! For class, we’ve about studied for all of them….

    Ps SEC is WAY better than any other
    NCAA section. SEC. GO TIGERS!!!!!

  • NeesahD22

    I like how FH randomly jumps in these conversations. Sorta like Jesus does :)
    Oh, ur talents amaze me.
    Great list. Loved how it was long yet no boring. Nice for a change
    Imagine all the other ppl who right lists. They must b fuming.

  • Magpie

    I love lists like this! And excellently written- ”He wore the same clothes for so long that people mistook him on the street for a common beggar and gave him pennies, which he gladly kept.” Hehe love it! I personally loved reading about the two brothers with their house of junk and booby traps :D.

  • LSUTigersLauren

    Go scrooge yourself.

  • I would like to clarify a misconception. The most important Christian holiday is Easter. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, but Easter celebrates his resurrection from death. It is this belief in the resurrection of the dead and the proof of an afterlife which makes Easter more significant.

    (sources)

    http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holiday

    • VintageObsessive

      You are stating your opinion, not a “misconstrued” fact. I’d argue that they are of equal imprortance. :)

      • Christmas is when Jesus was born, important, yes, but Easter was the day that he died for us Christians and our sins. Because Easter is the fulfillment of God giving us Christians his only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross and then be resurrected so man can receive salvation. Birth of the Messiah or salvation for humankind.

        Also, because it coincides with the Jewish feast of Passover. The last supper is thought to have been a Passover Seder.

        Also, Easter is an entire season in the church. Starts on Easter and ends with the Pentecost also related to a Jewish holiday. That is when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. During this time, Jesus Ascended into heaven physically. This is not an arbitrary date. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, based on the Hebrew calendar.

        Easter is a truly religious holiday. A Christian Holiday based on Jewish Holidays and calendar. Remember, Christ was a Jewish carpenter.

        Christmas of sorts, has been around since pagan times as a winter festival. This was the time for pagans to celebrate because there was less work to do in the winter. Christians adopted it, attached it to the Season of Advent, or the beginning of the year it starts four weeks prior to Christmas. A good time for a feast to celebrated birth, the beginning if the year no?! This way, if Christians have a major celebration at the same time that pagans are celebrating, conversion will be considerably easier.

        Christmas celebrates the birth of a prophet. One of many, acknowledged by many religions as a great man. Easter makes him the Messiah for all Christians. It is on what Christians base their whole doctrine. -CaM

        Easter is more important than Christmas.

        • @nathan3606 “Christmas is when Jesus was born, important, yes, but Easter was the day that he died…”

          ****

          Easter is the celebration of the day Jesus *rose* from the dead. Good Friday is the day he died.

          • Bender Bending Rodriguez

            I never got why they called it ‘Good’ Friday. The only son of God being crucified to death doesn’t seem very good to me.

          • I didn’t know either, Bender, so I googled it and found this explanation:

            The Baltimore Catechism declares that Good Friday is called good because Christ, by His Death, “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.” Good, in this sense, means “holy,” and indeed Good Friday is known as Holy and Great Friday among Eastern Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday in the Romance languages.

            However, in languages other than english the day is not traditionally referred to as Good Friday. It is called Sorrowful Friday or Suffering Friday in

            German , Long Friday in Danish.

            So, what is the real story? I guess Holy Friday is the more accurate term.

        • VintageObsessive

          The inclusion of hunting eggs and a magic bunny in the Easter celebration has no religious affiliation, both have pagan roots. You are entitled to your opinion, but you can’t have death without life, so I find it hard to label either celebration “better” than the other.

          • VintageObsessive

            Correct. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not His death.

  • Planet Earth

    Great list Flamehorse .

    I know this is a Christmas theme list but why not mention the Rothschild ?

    They are way more rich than anyone on this list . In the 1700 they were estimated to be worth 700 million pounds ( around 300 trillion today ).

    I wonder how much there net worth is today (estimated 500+ Trillion) .They owned almost all the banks in Europe in the 19th century .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F4IGwuKdUQ

    • mrbrytsyd

      This isn’t a list of who’s the richest, it’s a list of FAMOUS SCROOGES…

  • Hey

    BORING!

    • Hey Is A Dumb Ass

      Don’t read it then. Dumb ass.

  • Lifeschool

    Excellent list – well worth the read! ;)

  • Santa Claus

    Ho… Ho…

  • Derp

    i don’t see whats so bad about the tiger woods one or what makes him a miser , rich people don’t get rich by giving away their money .

  • Rahat Haque

    No Scrooge McDuck? No one beats Uncle Scrooge!

  • brian

    Tiger would be 1 of on a list of assholes. I think he is trying his hardest to be an asshole

  • jbjr

    Didn’t Getty not want to pay his grandson kidnapping ransom. Then decided to as a loan and wanted to charge interest to his relatives on the “loan” for the random.

    Cheap. I forgot about Hetty Green, read about her in the old Guiness Book of World Records.

  • Norkio

    Some of these people appear to have suffered from some form of mental illness. Yikes!

  • Mrs Marvel

    You could include Robert Schuller on this list – founder of the Crystal Cathedral ministries with religious programming in nearly every country of the world – yet he expected his parishioners to prepare and donate special meals for his wife when she was sick, rather than hire someone to cook them or get one of his kids to help out. He also intended to send his LIMO over to the church to pick up the special donated meals because actually mingling with his parishioners was not an option. His megachurch pulled in millions of dollars for years, making him and his family wealthy beyond belief, yet the church had to file bankruptcy because they couldn’t pay their bills for the annual Christmas program. Unreal. The whole thing was just sold to the local Catholic diocese.

  • clarenceprater

    I am a scrooge. But I have a reason, now days Christmas is so commercialized. It’s all about spending and making money.
    http://acaithermo.net/?p=116

  • real estate,real estate listings,real estate foreclosures,remax,real estate value,commercial real es

    Remarkable things here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks so much and I’m looking ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  • California Ving Tsun

    Hi there, simply became alert to your weblog via Google, and located that it’s truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you proceed this in future. Lots of folks will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!