The Millionaire Reclusive Twins Who Left A $10,000,000 Estate Through Savvy Investing

Twins living together, a modest house, and long lives lead to a $10,000,000 secret fortune. This is another case of the stealthy wealthy, and two more honorary members of the Never Sell Club. Similar to Ronald Read and Jack Gsantner , these twins were able to amass such a respectable net worth even while earning normal, average salaries and without inheriting much more than a house with no mortgage against it.

I discuss these folks in episode 24 of the "What Works in Investing..?" Podcast.

Let's meet the twins:

Robert W. Magowan, 85, of Simsbury, died Thursday, (June 17, 2010) at St. Francis Hospital. He was born July 9, 1924 in New York, NY, son of the late William and Wilhemina E. (Greener) Magowan and had been a resident of Manchester and Simsbury for many years. He was a veteran of World War II having served in the U.S. Military. Mr. Magowan was an Insurance Agent for Prudential Insurance for many years prior to his retirement. Robert never married, and had no children.

Kathleen  Magawan was born in New York City but returned to her childhood home in Bolivia, where she lived until she was six. Her family moved to New York, where they resided until coming to Connecticut to make Simsbury their home in 1942. Kathleen attended Saint Joseph's College and graduated in the First Collegiate Nursing Class in 1947. She worked in the Pediatric Unit at Saint Francis Hospital for several years before deciding to become an elementary school teacher. She taught first grade at Simsbury Elementary School for 35 years before retiring in 1984.

She graduated with a Masters in Education from Hillyer College in 1953. Kathleen Magowan was a quiet, unassuming woman who never made headlines during her 87 years, according to the Hartford Courant. Like Robert, she never married and had no children of her own. Kathleen passed away in 2011, close to a year after Robert died.

Let's explore the tenets that allowed the Magowans to create this small fortune.

Tenet: Frugality Live Beneath Your Means

Kathleen lived a frugal life with few expenses, given she had no children or grandchildren and lived in the un-mortgaged home she inherited from her parents.

In later years Kathleen and Robert lived together as near recluses in a modest 100-year-old home along a busy thoroughfare in Simsbury, a suburban town of 25,000 residents.

They didn't throw anything away,'' said attorney David Bondanza, who came to know Kathleen Magowan personally and did much of the legal work on the estate. "That's the bottom line. There was a lot of history in that house.''

Tenet: Keep It Secret

Though it’s been two years since her death, lawyers have only now untangled Kathleen Magowan’s $6 million estate because she had so many assets and papers hidden away.

‘We had no idea,’ Burgess said of the elderly woman’s bursting portfolio. ‘She was low-key, sweet, compassionate. You would never know.’

Tenet: Hold Forever to Compound

·The stocks Robert Magowan controlled exploded in value from the 1960s and 1970s to reach dizzying values, but the pair continued to live their quiet existence.

Stocks and bonds from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, this is why I consider the Magowan's to be honorary members of the Never Sell Club!

Tenets: Ignore Wall Street and Minimize Taxes

‘She never really looked at (her portfolio) because she never had a demand for that kind of money,’ attorney Louis George, whose law firm handled her estate, told the Courant. ‘It shows the whole buy-and-hold (strategy) instead of these day traders we’ve seen in the last 10 years.

· Louis George, a lawyer who handled Kathleen’s estate, told the Courant that the Magowans’ wealth demonstrated the virtue of the “buy-and-hold” strategy of investment. The twins lived frugally and socked away whatever extra money they had, putting much of it in stocks and bonds that accumulated value. The worth of the stocks, in particular, grew spectacularly in the past few years. Robert also apparently had a knack for spotting winners. Some of the biggest gains came from investments in Ametek Inc., a Pennsylvania-based firm that manufactures electrical motors, pumps and instruments.

Additionally, the twins amassed startling amounts of wealth in other ways. Kathleen, who was not known to have worn jewelry, turned out to own $6,000 worth of baubles that she kept in a safe deposit box. And a neighbor who helped clean their house after Kathleen’s passing found a Quaker Oats can that contained 1940s and 1950s war bonds, which turned out to be worth $183,000. largely in small denominations of $50 and $100

Tenet: Altruism

Not much of a philanthropist while alive, Kathleen left a total of $5 million to her 15 favorite causes in her will.

Other Interesting Things Discovered In The Magowan's House

The nearly 100-year-old house on Route 10, known locally as Hopmeadow Street, also contained National Geographic magazines dating back to 1929, old newspapers, dozens of file folders filled with magazines, record albums from the 1920s along with a record player that still worked, an uncashed check for $2,500 and a life insurance policy dating back to 1949. Some items were kept in old-fashioned steamer trunks, while papers were found in the handmade files that Magowan made from old cereal boxes.

What We Can Learn From The Magowans

By living frugally and investing wisely, the Magowan's accumulated their $10,000,000 net worth which then was donated in part to institutions that had made a difference in Kathleen's life.

Robert invested their funds wisely and held positions for decades. Some positions were held for more than 50 years.

Do you want to end up wealthy? The combination of frugal living and savvy investing just can't be beat, and the good news is, anyone can do it, including teachers, and insurance agents!


Thoughts on this article? Disagree with me on some point? Something I missed? Leave a comment!

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Bailey is an investor, author, entrepreneur and host of the "What Works In Investing?" podcast now available on iTunes. He is founder and Chief Investment Officer of Burgeón Group, Inc. an investment advisory firm that provides portfolio management services to families and individuals.

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