Four Real-Life Christmas Scrooges

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Ebenezer Scrooge is the focal character of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. At the beginning of the novella, Scrooge is a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas. Scrooge’s catchphrase, “Bah, humbug!” is often used to express disgust with many of the modern Christmas traditions. The modern day equivalent is typically a grumpy billionaire like Donald Trump, but in this list we’re going to look at some historical figures who proudly uphold the Scrooge tradition…

4) Andrew Carnegie

Second richest man in history

Andrew CarnegieHis Riches

How rich was Carnegie? He is regarded as the second richest man in history, worth $293.3 billion dollars in today’s time—3 times more than Bill Gates. Making most of his fortune from the booming steel industry in the late 19th century, Carnegie soon had fingers in everything from bonds, to sleeping cars.

His Scroogyness

Carnegie was so cheap, that he once “lost a dime. It is said that he got on his knees, and searched for the dime until he found it.” This guy, who is worth the GDP of Zimbabwe, looked for something that most of us wouldn’t have given a second thought.

Another famous anecdote was how he tipped a dime once, at a meal. Unless he was eating at a $2 restaurant, it was unacceptable. It is unknown if it is the same dime mentioned above, although knowing Carnegie, we wouldn’t be surprised if he had originally picked it up with his next meal in mind.

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Carnegie was a noted philanthropist, and by his death, had given an estimated $35 billion dollars away—again, massively more than Bill Gate’s philanthropy of $28 billion (Suck it, Bill!) So, I suppose we could forgive him for the two (one?) dimes.


3) John Elwes

The man Dickens based Scrooge on

JOHN ELWES 198x300His Riches

A Member of Parliament of Britain in the 1700s, Elwes inherited his wealth from his mother and his uncle. Although his mother left him £100,000 (which would be like, a trillion dollars today), she reputedly starved to death, as she was too stingy to spend the money; while his uncle left his £250,000, but prided himself on spending only £110 a year. Which ultimate leads us to ask the question: is being a selfish jerk hereditary?

His Scroogyness

Elwes was so damn stingy, that he has an entire section in his Wikipedia page dedicated to his “Miserliness”.

Elwes dressed in beggars clothing; went to sleep when the sun set to save candles; would eat rotten food before buying new ones, once eating the remains left by a rat; refused to see a doctor, even when he had been shot; and ultimately lived on £50 a year.

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When Elwes lay dying, he forced his lawyer to draw his £800,000 will in firelight to save the cost of a candle. One. Single. Candle.

Despite all this, Elwes wasn’t really an asshole, just stingy.

2) Hetty Green

Richest woman in the world

Hetty Green 2Her Riches

Green inherited $104 million of today’s dollar from her father. She made her business in railroads and real estate, and was estimated to have been worth anywhere from $1.39 billion to $2.78 billion—making her the richest woman in the world at that time.

Her Scroogyness

Remember Carnegie, who got on his knees to look for a dime? Green was much worse. She once spent half a night searching her carriage for a lost stamp worth two cents.

She wore only one black dress, never used hot water and only ate pies worth fifteen cents.

But here’s the kicker: when her son Ned broke his leg as a child, Green tried to get him into a charity hospital ward. When they recognized her, she vowed to treat the leg herself. Ned eventually contracted gangrene, and he had to get his legs amputated. To be fair, in her old age, Green began to suffer from hernia, but refused a $150 operation for herself.

s9When she found out cancer could have been cured for $20, she turned down the research team.

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While all this made Guinness name her “World’s Greatest Miser”, we can’t help but sympathize that she was a dick to herself too.

1) J. Paul Getty


gettyHis Riches

During his lifetime, he was named the richest living American, owning over 200 business, and worth $7.5 billion in today’s dollar; making him the 67th richest American ever.

His Scroogyness

Getty installed a payphone in his house. No, in his mansion. In his 700+ acre plot of land.

Getty placed dial-locks on all his regular phones, limiting their use to people he authorized (himself) so that everyone else had to use the payphone: his staff, his business managers, his guests.

But his nature only really came out when his grandson, J. Paul Getty III was kidnapped. His kidnappers asked for a ransom of $17 million, and Getty refused. Fair enough, no negotiating with terrorists and so on.

But that wasn’t his reason for saying no, Getty “suspected a ploy by the rebellious teenager to extract money from his miserly grandfather”. When the family eventually received Getty III’s ear in an envelope, they agreed to the new ransom of $3.2 million.

Still unhappy, Getty negotiated it down to $2 million, and charged his son (Getty III’s father) for the sum, at 4% interest.

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Kind of a massive dick move by Getty regarding his grandson. Getty III was eventually returned, but affected by the trauma, became a drug addict. The drugs eventually rendered him speechless, blind and paralyzed.

Thanks grandpa.