Although both JFK and RFK were eliminated from U.S. establishment presidential politics during the 1960s, in the late 1990s younger members of the Kennedy Dynasty still apparently had access to a lot of inherited wealth. As a February 1, 1998 New York Daily News article, titled “Glimpse Inside The Kennedy Fortune,” noted:
“The front entrance to Suite 1710 at 500 Fifth Ave. is adorned very simply. In addition to four brass-coated numerals, a single piece of 81/2-by-11-inch paper is taped to the laminated door panel. The message in black lettering `J.P.K. Enterprises' is more concealing than revealing. The door shields the public from the headquarters of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises Inc., a holding company for a far-reaching financial empire started more than 50 years ago by the patriarch of one of America's most famous families.
“Kennedy's fortune has allowed his children and their heirs to live in comfort and style while choosing less-driven careers of their own making…While the Kennedy family was back in the news last week with an announcement about their plans to sell the historic Merchandise Mart in Chicago and several other commercial real estate properties for $625 million, management of the family fortune remains shrouded in secrecy. Joseph Kennedy made certain that would be the case….
”…The family patriarch amassed a fortune in liquor, B-grade Hollywood movies, oil and gas, insider trading and real estate….From behind closed doors, accountants and attorneys have managed and supervised the fortune, checking on investments and dispensing profit checks to the heirs….Joe Kennedy invested heavily in Manhattan real estate. A partner in several of those deals contended years ago that Kennedy made more than $100 million in New York real estate alone, including his sale of some of the land where Lincoln Center now sits. Often, Kennedy bought property without putting up much of his own money…
“As he aged…Kennedy divested the New York properties and began protecting his equity....Joe Kennedy established at least four trusts in 1926, 1936, 1949 and 1959. His wife, Rose, set up other trusts, including separate ones for each of her children in 1953. Their children, in turn, set up trusts for their offspring….Edward Kennedy, Eunice Shriver, Patricia Lawford and Jean Kennedy Smith will each net about $75 million from the sale of the Merchandise Mart and related properties. In the case of JFK's heirs, his two children Caroline Schlossberg and [now-deceased] John F. Kennedy Jr. generally receive 50% portions of their father's estate, as well as their mother's. With $465 million of the Merchandise Mart deal in cold cash, Caroline and JFK Jr. may receive in excess of $38 million each….
“The Mart and the other commercial properties have served as the most reliable cash cow for the Kennedy heirs, producing in excess of $50 million in net operating income annually, which has been distributed on a regular basis from the Fifth Ave. office… Officials said the sale, expected to close in the second quarter of 1998, includes $465 million cash, $50 million of Kennedy debt assumed by Vornado, and $110 million in Vornado partnership units issued to established Kennedy trusts. By receiving a stake in Vornado, one of the nation's largest Real Estate Investment Trusts, the Kennedy heirs will be able to defer a substantial chunk of the sale's capital-gains tax….The family decided to sell for two reasons: The value of the Mart properties had skyrocketed in recent years….
“…Under terms of the various trust funds, and as individuals, the Kennedys still own oil and gas leases, interests in investment firms, Blue Chip stocks, shares in Planet Hollywood, interest in a venture capital fund and, of course, a steady flow of income and dividends from the myriad trusts…Each of the Kennedy heirs has also shared in another legacy of the patriarch's fortune: The May 1995 sale of the family's estate in Palm Beach for $4.9 million.”