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Poor little rich girl—Paris' Misfortune

Chicago Sun-Times
December 28, 2007
BY PAIGE WISER

It's painfully difficult not to make easy jokes about Paris Hilton's "The Simple Life" -- or maybe her pop song "Screwed."

Now that her hotel chairman grandfather has bequeathed 97 percent of his fortune to charity, Hilton's $100 million inheritance has shrunk -- to an estimated $5 million, according to the New York Daily News. Please, darling. That barely qualifies her as an heiress.

"It's definitely time to roll up her sleeves and get back to work," says Sam Chapman, CEO of Empower Public Relations and a former Wall Streeter. "It might be hard to live on just the interest earned."

But there's no need for her to panic, says Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at Golden Gate University. "She is not without talent," Strahilevitz says. "She does the dumb-shallow-rich-spoiled-gorgeous-stylish-blond thing well, and there will always be a demand for that."

She need not necessarily fear the future, Strahilevitz says. "I suspect by that point, she will be raking in alimony and royalties and on her third marriage to a multimillionaire. I worry about lots of folks that might not make it in this world. I would not ever put Paris Hilton on my worry list."

Should Paris be budgeting her money -- or can she still burn through it? Glare examines the financial details.

SPLURGE
"I consider myself a businesswoman and a brand," she told Newsweek in 2005. Good thing. Her endorsement deals may be her deliverance. She is associated with four perfumes (Can Can, Heiress, Just Me and Paris Hilton), a line of hair extensions (DreamCatchers) and a clothing line at L.A.'s hip boutique Kitson. A signature line of footwear is in the works. And maybe she can wrangle another Carl's Jr. commercial.

BUDGET
That acting career hasn't exactly taken off. Although her slasher death in 2005's "House of Wax" was spectacular, she may have peaked with her cameo in "Zoolander."

SPLURGE
Ever since watching a video presented by Heather Mills, Hilton says, "I've never worn fur and I never will." That's several million dollars' savings right there. Bonus: "I also haven't eaten any meat since. I just survive on pasta and stuff like that."

BUDGET
She started her own music label to release her self-titled album. Our advice? Sign up some other artists, pronto.

SPLURGE
No college debts. No college, period.

BUDGET
Her highly publicized pet habit may eat her out of house and home. She has three Pomeranians (Dolce, Sebastian and Prince) and two Chihuahuas (Tinkerbell and Bambi). Even celebrities don't get Puppy Chow for free.

SPLURGE
Hilton was famously impressed by Wal-Mart on her reality show. "You can get anything you want there for really, really cheap," she marveled.

BUDGET
The cost of being Paris Hilton is substantial, when you consider the legal bills. She's been sued by sex-tape partner Rick Salomon; diamond heiress Zeta Graff; car crash victims; the owner of Club Paris in Orlando, Fla., and a California woman who claims that Hilton "stole" her look. Hilton has sued Hallmark and Parisexposed.com. Then there's the music copyright battle, and the expensive lawyers who represented her after her DUI arrest. ...