The Fascinating Tale of the "Witch of Wall Street" | Summary and Q&A

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February 13, 2018
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Today I Found Out
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The Fascinating Tale of the "Witch of Wall Street"

TL;DR

Hetty Green was a shrewd investor who amassed a great fortune through frugality and exploiting lax investment rules.

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Key Insights

  • 🇬🇱 Hetty Green became one of the wealthiest individuals in history through shrewd investing.
  • 😀 She faced challenges and legal battles in her pursuit of wealth, including forging a will.
  • ❓ Hetty's frugality and aversion to debt contributed to her financial success.
  • 🤑 Despite her reputation as a miser, she was not afraid to spend money on her children's well-being.
  • ❓ Hetty's investment skills contrasted with her husband's speculative and risky behavior.
  • 🥺 Her son inherited her fortune but did not possess her frugality, leading to financial troubles.
  • ⛽ Hetty's reputation as the "Witch of Wall Street" was fueled by rumors and sexism.

Transcript

Long before the likes of Warren Buffet, Hetty Green dominated Wall Street through extremely shrewd investing, frugality, and exploiting the lax investment rules of her age, managing to amass one of the greatest fortunes in history. Hetty, born Henrietta Howland Robinson in 1834, was the daughter of Edward and Abby Robinson. The family first made th... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Hetty Green amass her fortune?

Hetty's family had a successful whaling business, and she inherited her father's estate. She also made risky investments, such as in Civil War bonds.

Q: Why did Hetty challenge her aunt's will?

Hetty was disappointed with her aunt's decision to leave most of her fortune to charity. She forged a new will in her favor but lost the legal case.

Q: How did Hetty's marriage and separation affect her financial situation?

She married a successful businessman but kept their finances separate. After discovering his massive debt, she separated from him and continued to manage her own investments.

Q: What were some of Hetty Green's eccentricities?

Hetty was known for avoiding taxes by frequently moving and using her dog's name on lodging records. She also neglected personal hygiene and frequently haggled over prices.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Hetty Green's family built a large fortune through whaling and her father increased it significantly.

  • Hetty started her business education at a young age and became skilled in investments.

  • She inherited her father's estate, invested in risky Civil War bonds, and challenged her aunt's will in court.

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