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Monday, February 14, 2011

Famous heirs who could inherit billions

Every parent wants to be able to help their child. In some cases, this means coming up with the down payment on a car, and in others, it means co-signing an apartment lease. Then there are times when it means offering them a controlling stake in a major U.S. corporation.

The fortunes passed down from billionaire parents to their children have allowed businesses to continue under well-known family names long after the principals are gone. Those fortunes have also provided the resources to get a new venture off the ground.

Whether they're passing down a longstanding empire to the next generation or providing the backing for a new investment, the wealth that billionaire parents have handed down has created opportunities that otherwise might not exist.

Here are the children of several high-profile billionaires. While it's uncertain if the parents will pass down all of their riches, some of children have already used their parents' wealth and influence to their advantage.

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David, Dylan and Andrew Lauren

If you don't know who Ralph Lauren is, then you're not much of a fashionista. Born Ralph Liftshitz in the Bronx, Lauren is a world-famous clothing designer who entered the business in 1967 as the owner of a necktie store. He sold his own designs there under the name "Polo," and 30 years later, Polo Ralph Lauren was a publicly traded company that took in over $5 billion in revenue, according to SEC filings.

The designer and his wife of over 45 years had three children -- Andrew, David and Dylan. Andrew is a producer of low-budget films and documentaries. David works at Polo Ralph Lauren as senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications. And daughter Dylan founded Dylan's Candy Bar, a chain of candy stores that she claims was inspired by seeing "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" at the age of 5.

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Emma and Georgina Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City and one of the richest people in the U.S. He founded Bloomberg L.P., a financial data, media and software company that, according to The New York Times, has an estimated revenue of almost $7 billion. Two of the primary beneficiaries of this massive wealth are his daughters, Emma and Georgina. Emma has worked alongside her father, helping to implement the 311 phone number system that consolidated the city's thousands of agencies under a single, three-digit number.

Bloomberg used his considerable fortune to support his youngest daughter Georgina's love of horseback riding. Today, she is a professional equestrian who's considered one of the best in her field, but the pursuit is not without its risks. In 2002 she broke her back at the Hampton Classic, and in 2010 she suffered a concussion at a Syracuse riding show. However, days later, she announced to the New York Daily News that the accident would change nothing. "I'm going to get all better and go right back."

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Amanda Hearst

Media tycoon William Randolph Hearst made his fortune at the turn of the 20th century by founding newspapers all over the United States, and he became so powerful and so influential that the main character in "Citizen Kane," Charles Foster Kane, was based on him.

His family fortune sometimes made them a target, as his granddaughter Patty Hearst found out when she was kidnapped in 1974 by a militant leftist organization, the Symbionese Liberation Army. However, her sister, Anna Hearst, has led a life much more consistent with that of a socialite.

Anna's daughter Amanda benefited from her family's wealth. She attended the prestigious Choate boarding school in Connecticut, and she has had a successful career as a model, appearing in advertisements for Ralph Lauren and on the cover of Cosmopolitan. She was quoted in Harper's Bazaar as requiring a yearly "maintenance cost" of over $130,000, although she now claims that the quote was taken out of context.

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Paris and Nicky Hilton

The nationwide Hilton Hotels chain was founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton. His grandson, Rick Hilton, is chairman and co-founder of Hilton & Hyland, a Beverly Hills real estate firm that caters only to people who can afford the most extravagant properties in the 90210 zip code. When he met Kathy Avanzino, it was love at first sight and the two married in 1979. Over 30 years later, they're still going strong, and they have raised two sons and two daughters.

One of their daughters, Nicky, has launched clothing lines and walked the runway in Australian fashion shows. Their other daughter is Paris, and you may have heard of her. She gained national attention when she starred in "The Simple Life" on Fox in 2003 with fellow socialite Nicole Richie, but her ambitions didn't stop at TV. She also wrote an autobiography in 2004, starred in the horror movie remake "House of Wax" in 2005 and released her debut album, "Paris," in 2006.

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Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump

Donald Trump may be a celebrity thanks to the television show "The Apprentice," but his real estate enterprise is what made him a billionaire. "The Donald" has five children, and while 17-year-old Tiffany and 4-year-old Barron are unlikely to have plotted a career path just yet, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric have all taken positions alongside dad within The Trump Organization.

Donald Jr. holds the position of executive vice president within the company, and he also serves as ambassador for Operation Smile, a charitable organization that fixes cleft palates for children in developing nations. Eric also serves as executive vice president in the Trump Organization, as does sister Ivanka. However, Ivanka is the most well known of all of Trump's children, thanks to her work as a runway model and her appearances by dad's side on "The Apprentice."

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