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Hoarders and Squalorees

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  • Ida Mayfield Wood (1838 - 1932)
    From the Irish Echo February 17, 2011 Hibernian Chronicle: The Mayfield mystery solved in Archive / by admin / on February 17, 2011 at 4:14 am / Her death a few months later in early 1932 prompte...
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He is considered to have been the most crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical mus...
  • Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987)
    Andrew Warhola known as Andy Warhol, was a Rusyn-American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. After a successful career as a commerc...
  • J. D. Salinger (1919 - 2010)
    Jerome David "J. D." Salinger (January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010) was an American writer. Living reclusively after much-noticed publications early in his career, he last published an original work in ...

Famous (and Publicised) Hoarders and Squalorees

This is a project connected to the '"Famous Eccentrics Project devoted to people of note who live in squalor; people who were hoarders.

Hoarding is a general term for a behaviour that leads people or animals to accumulate food or other items during periods of scarcity.

Compulsive hoarding (also "hoarding disorder") is a pattern of behaviour that is characterised by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.

Note - Some entries are marked Not followed up - these have references online that have suggested that they were hoarders but no further research has yet mbeen done.

Phyllis Battista

Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale

Edith Bouvier Beale ("Big Edie") and her daughter Edie ("Little Edie") lived in squalor in a 28-room East Hampton mansion known as "Grey Gardens," which had deteriorated to such a state that in 1971 the Suffolk County Board of Health threatened to evict them for violating building and sanitation codes. This incident made national headlines due to Edith and Edie's pedigree - they were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven was a perfectionist. He often became so absorbed in his work that everything else in his life fell to squalor.

During those times he tended to spend his time locked in his flat working like a madman. His flat was always a terrible mess, and he often appeared unkempt and sloppy while he was working on a piece.

Louis Bonard

Louis Bonard was a rich eccentric and a French fur trapper who saw the "error of his ways" on his deathbed in 1871 and left his fortune to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His generous bequest ensured the survival of the fledgling organisation, but he himself purposely lived in squalor and poor conditions in a tiny, decrepit apartment.

Born in France in 1809, little is known about his early life before he arrived in Anerica in 1951. He left Rouen in 1849, traded in South America and California, then settled in New York City, where he invested in real estate.

His gravestone in in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn has a bronze ASPCA Seal of Mercy, which depicts the angel of mercy hovering over a fallen carriage horse being beaten by its driver, placed there by Henry Bergh, founder of the ASPCA.

Louis Bonard's family contended that no one in his right mind would give so much money and real estate for the care of animals.

Carole Ann Cirone

Not followed up

Killed by a fire in her home in East Elmhurst, Queens, on Jan. 4, 2005. Neighbors only knew she was a hoarder when they saw mounds of charred junk in her gutted home.

Homer and Langley Collyer

Probably the most famous hoarder of all time, Langley Collyer did not survive his squalor. He lived with his blind and paralyzed brother, Homer, in a three-story mansion in New York, filled from floor to ceiling with newspapers, boxes, barrels, crates, and 10 grand pianos: "They all have such different tonal effects."

Christina Copeman

Not followed up

... isolated herself completely in her East Flatbush home after her estranged husband died in 1990. No neighbours noticed when she died, and when police finally broke down her door her skeletal remains had been there unnoticed from a year to 18 months.

Quentin Crisp Wiki

"Squalor was my natural setting." - from The Naked Civil Servant Crisp prided himself on the absolute squalor of his single-room homes - the Chelsea bedsit where he lived for 40 years, and the studio near the Bowery that was for 18 years his New York home. He also thought you should never keep up with the Joneses. Instead, drag them down to your level - it's cheaper.

Bobby Fischer,

Not followed up

Chess master from Brooklyn who defeated the Russian champion Boris Spassky at the height of the cold war in 1972. Mr. Fischer stopped playing chess in 1975 and wandered for years. He never returned to America because he violated a United Nations sanction to play a rematch with Mr. Spassky in 1992 in Yugoslavia, and he died in Iceland in 2008.

Joe Franklin

Not followed up

TV and radio host for half a century known for his “Memory Lane” shows, crammed his Times Square offices with show business memorabilia. In 2002 Mr. Franklin auctioned off some of his collection, and in 2003 he said he would try to store the rest.

Greta Garbo

Not followed up

Swedish-born actress who became a star during the 1920s and ’30s. Her career trickled out in the early 1940s after a string of unsuccessful films. Ms. Garbo tried to lead a solitary life by dodging paparazzi in Manhattan and traveling incognito until her death in 1990.

Bettina Grossman

New York's famed Chelsea Hotel was home to an unknown artist by the name of Bettina Grossman. Bettina had been living in the Chelsea as one of its artists-in-residence for 30 years and had amassed an entire lifetime of artwork. The fruits of Bettina's labor lay stashed away in hundreds of boxes inside her tiny two-room apartment.

William M. V. Kingsland

Not followed up

Real name Melvyn Kohn, left an Upper East Side apartment filled with fine art when he died in 2006. The collection included pieces by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, and John Singleton Copley, many of them stolen.

Yoshio Kishi

Not followed up

Art hoarder who overflowed his apartment with Asian-American memorabilia. Part of Mr. Kishi’s collection appeared in an exhibition called “Yellow Peril” at a New York University gallery in 2005 and 2006.

Patrice Moore

Not followed up

...trapped for two days but survived after a bookcase and stacks of magazines and books collapsed in his cluttered Bronx apartment in 2003.

Charlotte Moss

Not followed up

... turned hoarder mystique into a selling point for her eponymous Upper East Side home design store. She stuffed the four-floor brownstone that houses the store to the rafters with the finest pieces for a home.

Vycheslav Nekrasov

Not followed up

Found burned and unconscious in an apartment with floor-to-ceiling junk including “books, clothing, metal gates and wooden planks” during a three-alarm fire on July 3, 2006, in Sunnyside, Queens.

JoAnn Nichols

A 28-year-old missing person case was eerily solved when a medical examiner positively identified the remains of a woman found entombed in a false basement wall of her hoarder husband's trash-filled home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Nikola Tesla

Not followed up

Inventor of alternating electrical current, the first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, and the Tesla Coil. Mr. Tesla became a hermit as he got older, and died in a hotel room surrounded by pet pigeons.

Extreme OCD sufferer, had a fear of pearl earrings, a love affair with a pigeon, and a residence at the Waldorf Astoria for which he never paid. He was one of the most important contributors to commercial electricity, and is best known for his revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism.

Edmund Zygfryd Trebus

Polish war veteran, Edmund Trebus, who fought an epic battle against Haringey Council in North London to remain in his rubbish-filled house and garden, was filmed for the BBC documentary A Life of Grime. Mr Trebus welcomed the presence of the BBC crew, believing that they offered him a measure of protection. After nearly forty years of hoarding, he was reduced to living in a corner of his kitchen, and using ladders to get in and out of his house. In the end, Mr Trebus stayed in his five-bedroom Victorian villa - filled from floor to ceiling with rat-infested rubbish - but the council succeeded in clearing his garden. It was a job that took over a month, required five large trucks and 11 skips and cost more than £30,000. The widowed Mr Trebus had five children (who seldom visited him,) and was an avid Elvis Presley fan. He died on the 29th September, 2002, aged 83.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warholl suffered with Hoarding disorder. When he died in 1987 he left behind 610 cardboard boxes that he called time capsules.

Ida Mayfield Wood

Mrs. Ida Mayfield Wood lived in seclusion and squalor in the Herald Square Hotel in New York City, from 1907 to 1931. An exceedingly rich woman and former member of New York high society; in 1931 she had over $750,000 stashed in odd places such as pots and pans and in a pouch secured to her waist, as well as shoeboxes filled with yellowed securities worth thousands of dollars and, legend has it, a diamond necklace in a cracker box,

References and Sources

Other stories

Not followed up ...

List of alleged hoarders..

  • Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt
  • Lindsay Lohan
  • Micahael Salahi (of the Real Housewives of D.C.)
  • Mariah Carey
  • Paris Hilton
  • Marie Osmond
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends)
  • Celine Dion


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