Millionaire lied about leaving Native American tribe his home – but bequeathed $50,000 to his CAT
A Manhattan millionaire who promised his $5million West Village property to a Native American tribe before he died has left his cat $50,000 from his estate.
Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois pledged in 2016 to give his historic home to the Lenape Indian tribe, the original Native American nation in Manhattan, after claiming he was ‘disgusted’ the property had been ‘taken by whites’.
But while there was no mention of the deed following his death in December, Bourgeois did remember to leave a massive sum for the care of his favorite feline.
Bourgeois’s U-turn is especially ironic given he previously campaigned for Native American rights, reportedly spending eight weeks in North Dakota protesting an oil pipeline near an Indian Reservation months before offering to return his home.
‘I’m extremely interested in the Lenapes,’ he insisted at the time.
Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois promised to leave his Manhattan home to the Lenape Indian tribe in 2016
Anthony Van Dunk, the chief of the Ramapough Indians, part of the Lenape tribe, said
Speaking at the time, Bourgeois told the New York Post: ‘I have a romance with the history of the city, and I have been generally appalled that the land that the city is on has been taken by whites.
‘This building is the trophy from major theft. It disgusts me.’
He added he felt obliged to give his Manhattan home back after feeling ‘rage against what whites have done and some guilt, no, a lot of guilt, that I have profited from this major theft. The right thing to do is to return it.
The eccentric New Yorker originally thought to give back his home after meeting a man named Joseph Scabby Robe, a Cree Indian from Manitoba, Canada, when they attended an Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011.
‘I told Joseph that I’d like to return the land to the Lenapes,’ Bourgeois later recalled. ‘The house isn’t important. It’s the land that the house sits on that’s important.’
Robe would go on to introduce Bourgeois to Native American chief Anthony Van Dunk, with the Manhattanite describing their meeting as the chief representing ‘the tribe, and I representing the whites’.
But three years after offering his spot to Van Dunk, the deal fell apart when the two reportedly had a falling out.
Despite never receiving the lofty sum, the Native American chief took it in stride, even complimenting the feline Mali for her massive payday.
‘Well, Mali was well worth $50,000. … She could meow with the best of them,’ he said.
‘She was a great cat. She was always there with him, and for him, towards the end. She was a very good feline company as much as a cat can be.’
Bourgeois’ home in Manhattan’s West Village was bought for $2.2 million in 2006, before its value skyrocketed to around $5 million today.
The eccentric New Yorker previously campaigned for Native American rights, before walking back on his promise to bestow his home to the Lenape tribe following his recent death.
According to court documents, Bourgeois left the $50,000 to a close friend in Queens to pay for the cat’s care after he was gone.
The author, who was the son of famed sculptor Louise Bourgois, left the rest of his $15 million estate to a number of friends, his adopted son, and his mother’s charity the Easton Foundation.
Bourgeois also reportedly asked his executors to sell his remaining properties, brushing off his promise to leave the West Village home to the Native American tribe.
Purchased in 2006 for $2.2 million, the three-story home has since seen its value skyrocket, and it is currently worth at least $5 million.
After leaving several other homes in Africa to his adopted son, alongside a $100,000 payout, the New Yorker also asked in his will to be buried near his wife in New Mexico and for a number of charities to receive cash from his expansive estate.
His brother Alain reportedly declined to comment on the estate, but added that ‘no decision has been made’ on the West Village property.