New Matilda 16th February 2010
Just before she married, Helen LaKelly Hunt’s father called her fiancé into his study for a two-hour, closed-door meeting. She was told later it was to discuss her “financial situation”, something no one had ever spoken to her about. As the daughter of one of America’s richest men — Texan oil tycoon H.L. Hunt — Helen says she was expected to be no more than “a southern belle who just smiled sweetly at the smart men who handled the money”.
Today, at 61, Hunt is a successful businesswoman, feminist activist, and one of America’s leading philanthropists. The pivotal moment for Hunt in breaking out of what she calls her “golden handcuffs” was when she discovered the extent of her wealth by reading about it in Forbes magazine. She also discovered that her money was held in a trust fund controlled by her brother’s fraternity “brother”. The fight to regain control of this fund was, she says, “radicalising”.