When socialite, heiress and fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt died this week, she had an estimated A$290 million ($305.4m) to her name.

But her surviving three children — including CNN anchor Anderson Cooper — aren't expected to inherit any of that vast wealth.

In fact, Cooper has known he wouldn't be inheriting anything from his mother for many years and has previously spoken publicly about the family's surprise financial arrangements.

"My mum's made clear to me that there's no trust fund," he told Howard Stern during a radio interview reported by Business Insider several years ago.


"There's none of that."

However, it seems Cooper is more than content to go without a massive inheritance.

"I don't believe in inheriting money," he told Stern.

"I think it's an initiative sucker. I think it's a curse.

"From the time I was growing up, if I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don't know that I would've been so motivated.

"I'm doing fine on my own, I don't need any."

He went on to say that many people who inherited large fortunes struggled to make their mark on the world, although he noted his mother — who forged her own successful career after inheriting millions — was an exception to the rule.

Cooper said his mother eventually made more cash in her own right than she inherited, and his family "believe in working".


Vanderbilt spoke about her difficult relationship with her inheritance as far back as 1985.

"I'm not knocking inherited money," she told The New York Times.

Gloria Vanderbilt, pictured in 1976, with her two sons Anderson Cooper and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper in New York. Photo / Getty Images
Gloria Vanderbilt, pictured in 1976, with her two sons Anderson Cooper and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper in New York. Photo / Getty Images

"But the money I've made has a reality to me that inherited money doesn't have.

"As the Billie Holiday song goes, 'Mama may have and Papa may have, but God bless the child that's got his own'."

At the time of her death, Vanderbilt had an estimated net worth of A$290m, although she had reportedly already spent a great deal of her fortune and donated to charity.

It is not known whether her other surviving sons from her second marriage will inherit any of her wealth.

Anderson Cooper paid tribute to his mother in a moving statement released after her death, which followed a short battle with stomach cancer.

"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life and lived it on her own terms. She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife and friend," he wrote.

"She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they'd tell you she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest and most modern."

Who was Gloria Vanderbilt?

Vanderbilt was born into money as the great-great-granddaughter of rail and shipping tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was once America's richest man.

Her father Reginald Vanderbilt was the heir to that fortune, and when he died when Vanderbilt was just 18 months old, she immediately inherited millions via a trust fund.

When she was a child, she became caught up in an infamous custody battle between her mother and aunt, which led her to be dubbed "poor little rich girl" in the press.

Eventually, the court ruled Vanderbilt should be raised by her aunt.

In adulthood, she became an actor, author, artist and socialite and reportedly inspired the Breakfast at Tiffany's character Holly Golightly, which was played by Audrey Hepburn on the big screen.

Vanderbilt's marriage to first husband Pat DiCicco ended in divorce, and in 1945 she wed second husband Leopold Stokowski.

They had two sons together — Christopher and Leopold Stanislaus Stokowski — before divorcing in 1955.

Husband number three was Sidney Lumet, followed by author Wyatt Emory Cooper in 1963.

They had two sons, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper and Anderson Hays Cooper.

Carter Vanderbilt Cooper died by suicide at age 23.

Vanderbilt also had a successful fashion business, launching a line of designer jeans in the '70s and eventually other products such as accessories, homewares and shoes.

Her denim business grew into an empire that raked in A$145m per year.