Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon's millions distributed in will
March 20, 2014 2:00 AM
Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon in 1971.
By Tracie Mauriello and Mackenzie Carpenter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WARRENTON, Va. — Rachel "Bunny" Mellon left a small island to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, a library to an unspecified charity, jewelry to a former first daughter, and $20 million in cash along with artwork and real estate to Stacy B. Lloyd III, her son by her first marriage. But the widow of philanthropist Paul Mellon who died Monday at age 103 left nothing to Pittsburgh institutions. That's presumably because Mr. Mellon, her second husband, bequeathed millions to his hometown when he died at 91 in 1999.
Instead, Mrs. Mellon directed her fortune to descendants and to East Coast charities including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Va., where she lived. She made provisions in her will to allow a model airplane club to continue to fly remote-control planes over property in Massachusetts she bequeathed to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
A key employee who helped run Mrs. Mellon's seven households was granted lifetime occupancy of a farmhouse, and grandchildren were left cash, real estate, benefits of a family trust and gold boxes from her extensive collection by famous jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger.
After funeral expenses are paid and items specified in her will are distributed, Mrs. Mellon arranged for any remains of her estate to go to the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, a philanthropic and grant-making nonprofit named for her father.
Heir to the Listerine fortune, Mrs. Mellon was known for her elegance, her sense of style, her friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy, her love of horticulture and her sense of humor. She was an unassuming woman who often found herself in the public eye, including for her role in a political scandal when she supported John Edwards' 2008 presidential bid and the money she gave ended up being used to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter.
Paul Mellon's gifts here
Her husband, who grew up in Shadyside but moved to Virginia in the mid-1930s, left $40 million to Carnegie Mellon University in two bequests and up to $2.5 million to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. His will also contained bequests of $1 million to Chatham College, now Chatham University, and $500,000 to Latrobe Area Hospital in Westmoreland County in honor of his Yale classmate and longtime friend, the late George Wyckoff of Rector.
Mr. Mellon was the only son of Andrew W. Mellon, the Pittsburgh banker, financier, industrialist, secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and ambassador to Great Britain. He was born in a house that stood on the site of Carnegie Mellon University's stadium near Forbes Avenue and Margaret Morrision Drive, and he later lived in what is now Chatham's Mellon Hall.
At the time, CMU president Jared Cohon noted that the university along with the National Gallery of Art and Yale University, had benefited the most from Mr. Mellon's largesse.
Chatham College's gift of $1 million was used to create an endowment with income to refurbish the house formerly owned by Mr. Mellon's father on Woodland Road, now called the Andrew Mellon Center.
Mr. Mellon's $2.5 million to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh was given in honor of his cousin, James M. Walton, who headed that institution from 1968 to 1984.
No accounting of her wealth
Wednesday's court filing does not include a financial accounting of Mrs. Mellon's estate's value but lists hundreds of acres of property and describes valuable artwork, jewelry and personal effects slated to go to relatives and friends including French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy and Caroline Kennedy whose mother, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was a close friend.
Ms. Kennedy, for example, is to receive a long gold necklace with pearls and an antelope pin by Schlumberger. Mr. Givenchy, whose gardens Mrs. Mellon designed, was bequeathed "my important architect's table presently in my Paris apartment." Her stepson, Timothy Mellon, her husband's son, was bequeathed a porcelain cabbage.
Items left to them and others testify to Mrs. Mellon's exquisite taste. They include custom-made jewelry by Van Cleef and Arpels and Verdura; paintings by Claude Monet and Anne Redpath. There are also numerous diamond and sapphire rings, "important large pearl flowers by Schlumberger set in gold," sculptures, drawings, weather vanes, pieces of silver and automobiles.
In part, Mrs. Mellon's estate is a testament to her work as a self-taught horticulturist who designed the White House Rose Garden during the Kennedy administration.
For example, her will describes a building on her property that houses her extensive botanical library. Her intent was to bequeath it to charity along with its contents and funds to maintain the building, its adjacent greenhouses and 300 surrounding acres. The will directs her executor to identify the charity, but suggests her town's Oak Spring Garden Foundation or the Lambert Foundation.
She also left the garden foundation her "French box depicting scenes of France in a green leather case."
Meanwhile, she designated her collection of botanical china to be divided equally between the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.
Mrs. Mellon understood that the scope of her estate would be difficult for the executor, Alexander D. Forger, to manage.
"Due to the nature, scope and geographical location of my assets, I recognize the complexity that will be involved during the administration of my estate in collecting, inventorying, appraising, distributing and disposing of those assets," she noted in a section of her will authorizing executors to hire additional employees to handle the work and to use airplanes owned by her limited liability corporation, Oak Spring Farms.
Mrs. Mellon was known to have had a staff of 100 managing her homes and many properties that included an apartment in Paris and real estate in Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
An earlier version of the will left $20 million and numerous pieces of jewelry and artwork to daughter Eliza Lloyd Moore, who died six years ago.
The will initially was signed in 2003 and was revised nine times between then and 2011.
Washington bureau chief Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-703-996-9292 or on Twitter @PGpoliTweets. Mackenzie Carpenter, email@example.com, 412-263-1949. On Twitter @MackenziePG.tmar
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.