Jackie Kennedy Onassis could have set sister Lee Radziwill up for life but instead cut her out of her will after a lifetime spent fighting over men, a new book claims.
When Jackie died from cancer in 1994, she handed Lee’s two children $500,000 each from her $150 million estate, but refused to give her own sibling a penny.
Jackie explained in the will that her decision came ‘because I have already [provided for my sister] during my lifetime.’
Lee – who died last week at the age of 85 – later suffered from financial difficulties thanks to her extravagance.
The sisters standing in the gardens of the White House with Lee’s daughter Anna Christina and the Kennedy family dog Clipper in 1963
Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, leaves the Church of St. Thomas More in New York
The sisters sitting in the back of a car in London in May 1965 – Princess Lee Radziwill (left) could have been left a fortune by Jackie Kennedy (right), according to a new biography, and suffered financial difficulties later in life
Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli told People that Jackie must have intended the move as a snub to Lee, because she would have known anything in the will would be made public.
It came after Lee was said to have seduced John F Kennedy, Jackie’s then-husband, shortly after the birth of daughter Caroline.
The Bouvier sisters, Jackie and Lee, were two of the most glamorous women of their generation.
Taraborelli’s biography, Jackie, Janet & Lee, describes a fierce and lifelong rivalry — over money, men, success and even their mother’s love.
He reveals their formidable and hard-nosed mother, Janet Bouvier Auchincloss, sought to mould her daughters in her own ruthlessly mercenary and social-climbing image.
Janet had no objections to Jackie’s boyfriend, Jack Kennedy – not least because he was a member of a clan worth at least $500 million. But she was alarmed by his reputation as a philanderer.
Jackie – in thrall to JFK’s huge political ambitions and his family’s glamour – brushed her mother’s reservations aside.
Meanwhile Janet intervened in giving Lee’s first husband Michael Canfield, a young publishing executive, his marching orders.
Canfield later claimed Lee had boasted of having sex with JFK while the two couples were on holiday together.
Nini Vidal, sister of Gore Vidal and distantly related by marriage to Jackie and Lee, claimed she had made a similar admission to her and said the tryst occurred while Lee was staying with the Kennedys after Jackie had given birth to daughter, Caroline.
Janet was only 21 when she married her first husband and the girls’ father, Jack Bouvier, a handsome but heavy-drinking Wall Street stockbroker and socialite, whom she divorced 12 years later over his philandering – she later married Hugh Auchincloss
Lee Radziwill attends the Carolina Herrera fashion show as part of NYFW Spring/Summer 2018 New York
JFK with his wife Jacqueline – her sister Lee is also believed to have an affair with the President
Lee reportedly left her bedroom door open deliberately so Canfield could hear her and JFK making love.
Lee, by then 26, married Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill and remained in London, where she insisted on being addressed as ‘Princess’ Lee Radziwill, even though her husband had become plain Mr Radziwill when he took British nationality in 1951.
Soon, restless and bored once more, she embarked on an affair in 1962 with shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, one of the richest men in the world.
‘Ari is what I deserve,’ claimed Lee. So she had only herself to blame for inviting her elder sister – in low spirits after losing her baby son, Patrick, shortly after his birth — to join her and Onassis on a cruise in October 1963.
Once again, Lee was overshadowed as Onassis turned his attention to Jackie.
He kissed Jackie lingeringly on both cheeks, alarming her Secret Service bodyguard who knew JFK would have ‘had a fit’ had he seen it.
But even the First Lady was impressed by his astonishing extravagance. ‘So this is how kings live,’ Jackie whispered to him.
Jacqueline Kennedy is followed by her sister, Lee Radziwill, in London in June 1961 – they competed over men and money throughout their lives
Lee Radziwill, sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, leaves the Church of St. Thomas More in New York in 1999 – she died last week at the age of 85
On November 22, 1963, in the hours after JFK’s assassination, Onassis tried to ring Jackie on a private number she had given him. He then flew to Washington and, at Jackie’s insistence, stayed at the White House.
A friend of Lee’s told Taraborrelli that, knowing Onassis’s predatory instincts, she had suspected his motives in ‘comforting’ Jackie even with JFK’s blood still on her pink Chanel suit.
‘Onassis was a fast mover,’ agreed his friend, the socialite Taki Theodoracopulos. He was moving in for the ‘real prize’ even as he continued his affair with Lee.
After Jack’s death, however, Jackie was rather more taken with another man. Not her brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy, as has been widely reported, but Jack Warnecke, a tall, handsome architect.
A year after the president’s death, they started an affair. Taraborrelli concedes there was talk she was involved with other men, including Lord Harlech, who was then the British ambassador in Washington.
However, it was Warnecke who swept her off her feet in those vulnerable months. He wanted to marry her, but her ruinously expensive lifestyle was a problem.
Two-and-a-half years into their relationship, Warnecke admitted to Jackie that he was nearly $1 million in debt.
He’d even spent the staff bonuses at his architect’s firm to keep up with her lifestyle.
Both Roy Jenkins (left) and Mark Shand (right) were among famous men to be linked with Lee
Lee Radziwill and American writer Truman Capote pose in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel during Capote’s Black-and-White Ball
In the summer of 1967, Onassis invited Jackie to his private Greek island of Skorpios.
At dinner each night, she’d unfold her napkin and a huge jewel would fall out.
Onassis blinded her with his wealth, just as he had her sister years earlier. Jackie returned home and sent Warnecke on his way.
But even her conniving mother drew the line at a billionaire she knew would divide her daughters. Janet told Ari to stay away from both of them.
He and Jackie married in 1968 and when Jackie returned from honeymoon, she had a vicious row with her mother about Onassis.
Lee was furious and utterly mortified by Jackie stealing Onassis from her – years earlier she had turned him down and stuck with Radziwill for fear of causing a scandal for her sister, then the First Lady. It was from this point that Janet noted a ‘marked difference’ in the sisters’ relationship.
Jackie remained married to Onassis until his death in 1975, but the union had soon unravelled, and they were estranged when he died.
Lee, who had two children with Radziwill, divorced him in 1974. A proposed third marriage five years later to a mega-rich property heir, Newton Cope, foundered on the rocks of Bouvier greed.
By the Eighties, the sisters were seeing far less of each other, but in 1983 Janet was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although Jackie became her mother’s devoted carer, it was, ironically, Lee who became Janet’s avowed favourite, despite barely ringing her mother once a month.
Jackie’s resentment increased when she discovered in 1987 that Janet had given Lee $750,000 – said to be a ‘guilt’ payment for the way she had favored Jackie when they were younger.
‘Lee was bewildered. After all, Jackie had millions in the bank,’ says Taraborrelli. ‘Why begrudge her sister this small amount?’
Lee certainly never matched Jackie when it came to raking in money from her husbands. After Onassis died, Jackie received more than $25 million.
Janet ‘went to her grave’ in 1989 believing her daughters never recovered from their rift over Onassis, says Taraborrelli. With their mother gone, the sisters drifted even further apart.
Jackie – by then living with the Belgian-born diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman – was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 and declined rapidly. She died in May that year, aged 64, at home in New York. And Lee was at her bedside.
‘I love you so much. I always have, Jacks. I hope you know it,’ she told her sister, who was too drugged up on morphine to hear her.
The news that Jackie, a multi-millionairess, had left nothing to her sister in her will came as a huge shock – to Lee, her social circle and the millions of ‘Jackie O’ fans worldwide.
But to those who had known them both, says Taraborrelli, it was no surprise at all.