It’s hard to imagine any animal being the beneficiary of a fortune of nearly $400 million, but such a lucky pet actually exists. Gunther IV, a descendant of Gunther II, the original world’s wealthiest animal, is worth a reported $375 million.
He lives in a multi-million-dollar mansion in Miami, has a full staff looking after him, included his own maid and butler, spends his days playing and swimming, and eats only the finest food money can buy, including caviar and truffles. Gunther also has his own corporation, whose employees manage his assets and make sure the dynasty’s fortune keeps growing.
The story of the world’s wealthiest dog dynasty began in 1991, when German countess Karlotta Leibenstein passed away, leaving her trusty pet German shepherd, Gunther III. The wealthy heiress apparently had no close family, so she willed her entire fortune to her dog. Interestingly, the wealth Gunther II inherited at the time was estimated at around $100 million, but the people tasked with managing the wealth have almost quadrupled it since.
Animals can’t directly own financial assets, but they can inherit wealth through pet trusts created by their owners. A trustee determines how much and when money from the fund is spent, while a primary caretaker requests such payments and is directly responsible for the animal’s wellbeing.
Finally, an enforcer – either named in the will or appointed by a court of law – ensures that the trust is properly managed and that the funds are only used in the interest of the sole beneficiary, the animal.
In many cases, pet owners limit the trustee’s ability to withdraw money from the pet fund to a number of years (usually the estimated life span of the inheritor), in order to prevent fraud. There have been cases when the pet died, but the people tasked with managing the fund replaced it with another, just so they could keep taping into the wealth. When that limit is reached, the money is donated to a specified charity.
In the case of Gunther III, the original inheritor of countess Leibenstein’s fortune, it was specified that the money would be passed on to the offspring of the dog. That’s how Gunther IV became the world’s richest dog after Gunther III passed away. However, he was already an adult when his father past away, which would make him the world’s oldest German shepherd.
The current descendant of the Gunther dynasty is still referred to as Gunther IV, but he is most likely Gunther V or VI by now. Whether the first born of a Gunther is chosen to be next in line to the dynasty fortune, or whether other criteria is used, is a mystery.
Interestingly, Gunther is allegedly the CEO of the Gunther Corporation, the company that manages the dog’s massive fortune, mainly investing his money in profitable ventures. Although the company has invested Gunther’s money in some weird projects in the past, like purchasing a football club in Tuscany, Italy, or producing a theatre show called the Burgundians, it has done a pretty good job increasing the Gunther fortune.
As of 2019, Gunther IV is the beneficiary of a fortune worth an estimated $375 million, which, you have to admit, is nothing to scoff at if you’re a human. But what’s money to a dog, even a smart one like a German shepherd? Well, it buys a comfortable lifestyle, that’s for sure.
The world’s richest dog reportedly lives in a 7,000 -square-foot Mediterranean-style Miami mansion bought in 2000, from Madonna, for $7.5 million. He mainly spends time in the master bedroom, with the rest of the house being rented out for movie and television shoots. He also spends his time swimming in a custom pool traveling in his very own limousine, and feasting on the finest delicacies (high-quality steaks, caviar, bottled water, etc.).
Gunther IV has a personal maid that routinely cleans up after him, a butler who caters to his every need, as well as round the clock security. Not really the proverbial dog’s life, is it?