Doris Duke, tobacco heiress, dies at 80


LOS ANGELES -- Doris Duke, who as a youngster was dubbed "the Richest Girl in the World" and as an adult took pride in overseeing where every dollar of those riches was invested and donated, died yesterday at her Beverly Hills home after a long illness. She was 80.

Her fortune was estimated at $750 million earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

She was the only child and lone heir of tycoon James Buchanan Duke, founder of the American Tobacco Co. It is now a part of American Brands Inc., a liquor-tobacco-food-office equipment conglomerate.

When her father donated $107 million through the Duke Endowment to Trinity College in Durham, N.C., he persuaded its trustees to rename the school Duke University in honor of his father, Washington Duke.

The gift made his daughter a lifetime trustee of the university, and she continued his philanthropy, recently contributing $2 million to Duke for AIDS research.

Among her many homes was her 2,500-acre estate, with 42 miles of roads, in Somerville, N.J. Behind its iron gate are 13 gardens, landscaped to reflect themes from France, England, Italy, China, Japan, India and Persia. She established the Duke Gardens Foundation, opening the fabled grounds with its collection of rare orchids to the public from October through May.

Outside the estate, with its swimming pools and indoor tennis court, was a stable she converted to a museum where the public could view selections from the paintings and sculpture she had accumulated over the years.

There are no close survivors.

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