The Truth About Armie Hammer's Wealthy Family

It's no secret that Armie Hammer has been embroiled in scandal over the last year. However, it's not the first time someone in his family has been implicated in sketchy scenarios. Quite the contrary, the Hammer family history reads a little like a TV show centered on the twisted antics of the super-elite — and not just because of Armie's stint on "Gossip Girl." In fact, Armie's paternal aunt, Casey Hammer, has previously told Vanity Fair that "Succession" hit a little too close to home. "I had to turn it off ... because it was like, 'Oh, my God. That's my family,'" she said.

For those who weren't already aware, Armie comes from an exceedingly privileged background. His great-grandfather was oil tycoon Armand Hammer. According to Forbes, the Occidental Petroleum chairman was worth a whopping $200 million in 1986 — and it's often been said that he channeled some of that money into causes close to his heart. In wake of his 1990 death, The Washington Post lauded his contributions to the arts and cancer research alike. Per the Los Angeles Times, he was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize on more than one occasion, and by high-profile figures, too.  A source speaking to the publication in 1987 listed none other than "Carter" and "Teddy Kennedy" as his nominators. 

However, that's not to say Armand never escaped controversy. In fact, Armand was a rather contentious figure. 

Armie Hammer's great-grandfather was mired in controversy

As the son of a Russian immigrant who also happened to be a founder of the American Communist Labor Party (per The New York Times Magazine), Armie Hammer's great-grandfather, Armand Hammer, was regarded with suspicion during the Cold War. Armand's own links to the USSR only added fuel to the fire. 

Per Fortune Magazine (via CNN Money), Armand was thought to be "the Capitalist Prince." That is, a prominent American businessman who fostered ties with Russia, and who had been referenced in official Soviet documents. Despite that, he also had impressive stateside connections. However, speaking anonymously to The New York Times Magazine in 1981, a source close to President Reagan revealed that there were still suspicions, saying, "We simply don't know which side of the fence Hammer is on." Another source, a former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR concurred. "I'm uneasy about Hammer's close relations with the Soviet leadership," he said. 

Another area of controversy? Armand's personal life. Speaking in divorce court, his second wife — Armie's great-grandmother — claimed he had a cruel side. "In many conversations ... my husband would boast about the way he handled people and organizations who sought in any way to block him in his desires," she said. Unfortunately for the Hammer dynasty, it seems that may have been passed down to his son.

... and he ultimately disinherited his son

Despite the suspicions surrounding Armand Hammer, it was his son, Julian Hammer, who had repeated run-ins with the law. In 1976, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Julian had been arrested for being in possession of stolen property. However, more notorious was an instance that took place more than 20 years prior, in 1955. According to Vanity Fair, the heir to the Hammer fortune killed a man, just hours after ringing in his 26th birthday. However, the whole ordeal was dismissed. Allegedly, Armand paid $50 000 — cash — to a lawyer. Shortly thereafter, all charges were dropped. 

In addition to that, Julian's daughter — Armie's aunt — has made some gut-wrenching allegations in her 2015 memoir, "Surviving My Birthright." As noted by Vanity Fair, Casey Hammer alleged that she was sexually abused by her father. She also said that he had abused a number of other family members. Equally disturbing is a claim by Armie Hammer's ex-girlfriend, Paige Lorenze. Speaking with the outlet about something Armie told her, she shared, "He said his grandfather was this kind of very scary person who had these crazy sex parties where there would be guns." 

Julian's behavior didn't go without any recourse, however. Upon his father's 1990 passing, he learned that he'd been cut out of the will.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Armie's dad has had struggles of his own

Given Julian Hammer's reputation, it's unsurprising that his father opted to leave everything to his grandson, Michael Hammer — Armie Hammer's father. After all, as Casey Hammer told Vanity Fair, "On the outside, we had to be the perfect family." However, while Michael might not have a violent track record, he's not without his fair share of skeletons. Au contraire, he was involved in a multimillion-dollar art scandal in 2011. Two decades after inheriting the Knoedler Gallery from his grandfather, it came to light that the gallery had sold $70 million worth of forged artworks. On top of that, it was revealed that Michael had mismanaged the gallery's holding company's funds for his own benefit. No less than 10 lawsuits were filed in the matter — all settled out of court. 

Michael was scandalized again when multiple sources told Vanity Fair he had a "sex chair," complete with a cage, a hook, and — what else? — the family coat of arms. That said, Michael's lawyer brushed it off as an "unsolicited gag [gift]." 

His own scandals aside, it appears as though Michael has followed in his grandfather's footsteps of keeping up appearances and condemning poor behavior — at least publicly. In wake of Armie's scandal, Page Six reported that the actor has been disinherited, leading Armie to temporarily sell timeshares in the Cayman Islands to make ends meet. Now would be the time to cue the "Succession" theme song.