These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives

Shannon Quinn - December 7, 2022

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Portraits of Rudolf II when he was a young man. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II Had a Castle Full of Curiosities

So far on this list, we see that even people who grew up in a wealthy home or succeed in business could still be capable of becoming hoarders. It only makes sense, then, that a political leader would also be bitten by the collecting bug. In the 1500’s, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II hoarded a massive collection of “arms and armor, coins, books and manuscripts, portraits, and masterpieces of fine craftsmanship.” He also collected taxidermy animals, tusks, bones, and other scientific pieces. His uncle, Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria, was also an avid collector. These two men competed with one another as to who could have the larger collection of curiosities.

At one point, Rudolf’s collecting reached a point of mania during a time in his life when he felt very depressed and bored. He bought so many things that he ran out of money. Over time, he became more and more reclusive, and rarely left his private apartment in the castle. At a certain point, he ceased to function at his job as the Holy Roman Emperor. Like most hoarders, he was clearly suffering from some sort of mental illness. However, he wasn’t holding onto trash like most hoarders out there. Many of the pieces he collected were stunning works of art, and many of the pieces are still on display at The Met to this day.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Franz Ferdinand standing next to the tiger that he has just hunted. Credit: History Answers

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Collected Animal Heads

Most people recognize the name Archduke Franz Ferdinand because his assassination was the catalyst to begin World War I. But before he died, he was known for being a hunter who felled nearly 275,000 animals throughout his life. He kept meticulous records of every animal he slaughtered. His record was 2,140 animals in one day. According to those who knew him, Ferdinand “radiated an aura of strangeness and cast a shadow of violence and recklessness.” Of course, it wasn’t enough for him to just shoot birds or deer. He collected exotic animals from hunting trips around the world. His Uncle, Franz Joseph, the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, called it “mass murder.”

Some people might wonder what an avid hunter is doing on a list of hoarders. While many of his “prizes” were used to eat meat, he also collected taxidermy pieces of these animals in his home. After his world tour in 1893, he brought back an entire ship filled with the animal bodies he hunted like tigers, koalas, kangaroos, and so much more. There were so many pointy antlers hanging on his walls that he reportedly needed a servant to help him walk down the hallway so that he wouldn’t get “impaled by antlers”. Some of his trophies were really grotesque, like the foot of an elephant that was turned into an ashtray.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Karl Lagerfeld’s massive book collection. Credit: My Modern Met

Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Had a Massive Book Collection

Karl Lagerfeld was a fashion designer who was famous for working with Fendi, Chanel, and of course, his own collection. Just like Thomas Jefferson, Lagerfeld collected books. But his collection would have put the President to shame, because he amassed approximately 300,000 volumes. In the past, he collected other things. But he was once quoted saying, “Today I only collect books, there is no room left for something else. If you go to my house; I’ll have you walk around the books.” Like most hoarders on this list, he was living in a fire hazard. He kept his books stacked horizontally, rather than vertically, because he could fit more books on the shelves that way. The collection is entirely hardcover books, because Karl had a wasteful habit of ripping the pages out of paperback books when he was done reading them.

According to newspaper reports, “Karl Lagerfeld is going underground — to find creative storage space for his sprawling 230,000 volume book collection. “It’s a big problem, no?” asks the passionate bibliophile, ever the master of understatement. His solution: a storage facility at his house in Biarritz — underneath the tennis court. The 20,000-square-foot, climate-controlled subterranean complex will also include a photo studio, but the centerpiece of the project is a 10,000-square-foot, 20-foot high space where he plans to erect a library. What’s next, the return of the sexy librarian at Chanel?” Lagerfeld passed away in 2019, but there is no record online as to what happened with his book collection. However, he had established his own bookstore in Paris back in 1999, so there is a chance that the books were sold there.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Stanley Kubrick filming on the set of Dr. Strange Love. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Film Director Stanley Kubrick Hoarded His Memories in Cardboard Boxes

Just like Andy Warhol, director Stanley Kubrick liked to collect things in boxes. He put away photographs from the film sets of his movies like Eyes Wide Shut and Full Metal Jacket. But he also had hand-written notes and newspaper clippings included as well. When Stanley Kubrick passed away, his wife asked a documentary filmmaker named Jon Ronson to go through the boxes and film the process of uncovering his collection. When Ronson came to visit the Kubrick home, he was shocked to find that over half of the entire house was filled with cardboard boxes. His family had never cataloged the entire collection, but estimated that it was well over 1,000 boxes. He also collected books on an extreme level. For example, he had an entire room filled with books by Napoleon.

Unlike most hoarders, Kubrick at least kept his collections organized. They were all neatly stacked on shelving and labeled on the outside. He even went to the trouble of paying a box-making company to produce the perfect sized box for him to continue his collection. When Jon Ronson was done, he premiered his documentary titled Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes in 2008. Kubrick left instructions to burn a lot of what he left, after it had been filmed. One of the more fascinating bits left behind in this collection is the research from a movie he was working on called Wartime Lies, which was about the Holocaust. However, it was so upsetting to research, that Kubrick never actually made the film. The rest of the boxes were donated to the University of the Arts in London.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Johnny Depp has a huge collection of hats that he wears out in public often. Credit: Inside the Magic

Actor Johnny Depp Has a Huge Collection of Hats

If you’re a fan of Johnny Depp, you may have noticed that he wears a lot of hats. But what most people never get to see is the fact that his hat collection is so huge, they took up two entire rooms in his house. Sure, we’ve seen some massive celebrity closet tours before. But to have two entire rooms full of hats is on another level. Vulture chronicled just a few of the hats Johnny Depp wore out in public since the 1980’s. But hats are just one of the many things that Johnny Depp collects.

On top of collecting hats, Johnny Depp is known for wasting his riches on random purchases that nearly sent him into bankruptcy. He has a huge collection of 200 pieces of artwork, guitars, 45 luxury cars, and movie memorabilia. One of the most surprising things he collects is limited edition Barbie dolls. Despite the fact that he has multiple residencies, Johnny keeps his collections in 12 rented storage facilities. So his main living space looks relatively clean and liveable, unlike most hoarders. In fact, he has been called “the world’s most organized hoarder”. The positive thing is that if he ever truly goes bankrupt one day, he has all of these valuable art investments ready to sell in case he needs to bring in more cash.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Anke Gowda’s book collection. Credit: Rare Book Hub

John Q. Benham Has the Largest Book Collection in the World

Earlier on this list, we already mentioned two huge book collections from Thomas Jefferson and Karl Lagerfeld. Those will pale in comparison to John Q. Benham’s massive collection of 1.5 million books. According to Guinness World Records, “As (the books) have filled up his house, most of them must be kept in his six-car garage, two-storey building and piled under tarpaulin outdoors.”Some people might label nearly all of the Guinness World Record holders as “hoarders” when you really think about it. But there are massive collections of all sorts. The one major difference between your typical Guinness World Record-breaking collection and John Benham’s is the fact that most people keep their collection safe in a room in their house.

According to Rare Book Hub, there is another man out there who also claims to have 1.5 million books named Anke Gowda. However, he has never counted or officially verified the exact number of books he has kept on his property. Fifty years ago, he made a promise to himself to collect at least 1,000 books per month. Since he was originally from India, Anke Gowda collects books that were written in 20 different Indian languages. He also collects stamps, coins and paper money, movie posters and newspapers on the side. At first, Gowda filled his entire house with his book collection, and only left a small corner to sleep on the floor and cook. Eventually, he received help to build a 24,000 square foot structure to put in his library, and volunteers helped him take care of the collection.

These Famous Hoarders From History Could Have Entire TLC Shows About Their Lives
Alexander Kennedy Miller driving one of his many luxury cars. Credit: Find a Grave

Alexander Kennedy Miller Hoarded Millions of Dollars Worth of Cars and Gold

If you watch shows like American Pickers, you already know that a common thing for male hoarders to collect is old cars. Doesn’t matter if they’re piles of rust or fully working vehicles. Alexander Kennedy Miller was the son of a wealthy stockbroker from Montclair, New Jersey. He studied mechanical engineering, and began collecting vehicles and license plates from the time he was a teenager. As he grew older, he got his pilot’s license and even began collecting airplanes and a helicopter. Even though Miller was spending thousands of dollars on his massive collections, he and his wife lived as recluses. They wore clothes that were described as “rags”, and almost never left the house except to go to church.

Alexander Kennedy Miller passed away when he was 87 years old. After his passing, Christie’s auctioned off the collection that was left on his 81-acre property. He kept his car collection hidden inside barns and sheds. Unfortunately, many of the vehicles were invaded by raccoons and other animals. Even though many of these cars were in rough condition, they still estimated that they would bring in around $1.5 million from selling his collection. On top of that, investigators of the estate found over $1 million worth of gold and silver that had been stashed away under the floorboards of one of the buildings on the property. However, it turns out that he never paid income taxes his entire life. So naturally, the IRS sued the estate for all it was worth.

How did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Collecting: An Unruly Passion: Psychological Perspectives. Werner Muensterberger. 1995.

The Cautionary Tale of the Harlem Hoarders. Messy Nessy Chic. 2017.

7 Famous Hoarders. David K. Israel. Mental Floss. 2009.

Historical Figures With Enormous Collections. Melissa Sartore. Ranker. 2019.

The Secrets of Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules. BBC. 2014.

Everything Was Fake but Her Wealth. Karen Abbott. Smithsonian Magazine. 2013.

Johnny Depp: Hat Hoarder. Harper’s Bazaar. 2011.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand ‘radiated an aura of strangeness,’ killed almost 300,000 animals.

Paul Ratner. Big Think. 2018.

Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes. Foto8. 2014.