Monday, June 8, 2009

And not for $1.00 more...

I spent the weekend in San Simeon,
at 'The Ranch' as they liked to call it.
(Hearst had 7 other estates of this magnitude,
the actual 'Castle' was in Wales, I found out,
and he had an additional 30 individual homes.)

When George Bernard Shaw visited 'The Ranch',
he is quoted as saying that it was
"what God would have built if he had the money."

I was awestruck by the incredible detail,
how nothing was spared in the creation of this remarkable place.

And I will discuss that at length in the posts that follow.

But one of the most intriguing parts of my visit,
what had me completely romanced,
was Hearst's affair with actress Marion Davies.

They were in love.

And although he was married, with a wife in the 90 room estate
on Long Island, raising the 5 children,
he was throwing lavish parties at The Ranch,
with her by his side.

They would swim, horseback ride, and play tennis by day,
have cocktail hour at 7:30p,
dinner in the dining room at 10p,
and then a movie afterward in the ornate theater
(normally staring her)
before retiring to bed.

Guests included all the biggest stars: Douglas Fairbanks,
Charlie Chaplin,
and even a young JFK.

What a decadent life.

And then,

When Hearst died, he left 51% of his wealth to Marion.
And in a spirit of solidarity she sold it back to his wife and children.

For $1.00 per year.

You see, she was never in it for the money.

She was just in love.

Imagine that, a man literally on top of the world.
And the true treasure in his life couldn't be bought.

Now THAT's priceless.


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