By NICK PISA
From rags to riches: Millionaire Maria Assunta left her fortune to a stray cat she rescued, similar to the one pictured
An Italian cat has become the third richest animal in the world after inheriting almost £10 million after his wealthy owner died and left him the entire family fortune.
Maria Assunta died last month aged 94 years old and according to lawyers entrusted with her estate left the fortune in property to Tommasino, a stray cat she had found and looked after because of her love for animals.
Ms Assunta had a large property portfolio with homes and villas across the country, as well as several bulging bank accounts and share portfolios but no living relatives.
Barking bank balances: Gunter IV (left) and Patricia O'Neill with Kalu the chimp
Lawyers Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona who are representing her say that she left the fortune to Tommasino in a will she wrote and deposited with them in their office in Rome in October 2009.
Mrs Orecchioni explained that under Italian law Tommassino is not entitled to inherit the money directly and the will also asked for the money to be given to a 'worthy animal association, if one could be found.'
Queen of mean: Leona Helmsley cut her own family out of her will to leave her fortune to pet Trouble (pictured)
She added:'We had requests from several organisations but in the end we did not find any that we thought were suitable.
'Then earlier this year Maria told us about her nurse called Stefania who looked after her and who like her had a love of animals and in particular cats. We also could find no living relatives of her at all anywhere.
'In the end we decided that Stefania was the most suitable person to administer the money that Maria had left in her will.
'To be honest he doesn't need all that money he is happy with a saucer of milk and some biscuits.'
Stefania herself said:'I had no idea that she was worth so much money.'
The world's richest animal is thought to be Gunter, a German shepherd who received more than £90 million after his wealthy and slightly barking heiress owner Karlotta Liebenstien died and left him her fortune.
In 1988 British recluse Ben Rea left his fortune of £9 million to his cat Blackie.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
That'll be one hell of a night on the tiles: Cat inherits £10m empire after owner dies aged 94... and becomes third richest pet in the world
By NICK PISA