Monday, June 17, 2024

Wait til the Beckhams Meet the Parents: Nicola Peltz’s Aunt Inherited $65 Mil from Doris Duke in Infamous Adoption


I’d love to be a fly on the wall when David and Victoria Beckham meet their son’s fiancee’s family.

Brooklyn Beckham, who’s 21, has announced he’s marrying Nicola Peltz, 25. She’s the daughter of billionaire Nelson Peltz. For the Beckhams, this marriage is like sinking the best goal ever.

Nicola has an eclectic family, worthy of a Robert Altman movie a la “A Wedding.” On the plus side, there’s the money. And Nicola’s first cousin on her father’s side is the great New York broadcaster and filmmaker Perri Peltz, whose father was Nelson’s older brother.

But on Nicola’s mother’s side, things get more interesting. Nicola’s mother, Claudia, has a sister we haven’t forgotten about. Charlene Gail Heffner goes by the name Chandi Duke Heffner. A Hare Krishna, sort of, Chandi went to Hawaii in the late 1980s and inveigled herself into the life of another billionaire, Doris Duke, the richest woman in the world. The incredibly eccentric Duke —  who used to throw lawn birthday parties for her llamas complete with cake and funny hats —  adopted adult Chandi, after being convinced she was the reincarnation of her dead baby.

Once Chandi was adopted she took over Duke’s life. Doris bought her a sprawling horse farm worth then– 30 years ago– over a million bucks. When Doris died, there was a well publicized estate fight between Chandi and Doris’s ex butler, Bernard Lafferty. Chandi sued Duke’s estate and wound up inheriting $65 million. (We covered the story in Fame magazine in 1990, and New York magazine did it again in 1993.)

Chandi lives on the horse farm now and operates a very modest charity called the CDH Foundation, with total assets of $ 2 million. This gives her the air of philanthropy. Last year she gave $40,000 to help people in India, $45,000 to Bronx Veterans Medical Research, and $2000 to the Hawaii Saddle Club. That’s not much considering what she’s worth. According to financial accounts she’s posted on her website, she has about $700,000 parked in CDH to help India. If I were Victoria Beckham, I wouldn’t count on a big wedding present.

Here’s a description of Chandi (seen in the picture here on the right, with Duke and Imelda Marcos) from her website. This should be some rehearsal dinner!

With a love for all living things, Ms. Heffner maintains a U.S. ranch that takes in rescued horses, birds, donkeys, pigs, and many other animals. She has also been involved in equestrian sports and was the owner of the horse Authentic, whose rider took home the Gold Medal in show jumping for Team USA at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Although polo and horse jumping are her favorite equestrian activities, Chandi Heffner currently spends the majority of her time overseeing CDHIF USA and CDHIFI.

If anyone has news on Chandi from the far reaches of Hawaii, drop us a line at



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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