The Secret History of Doris Duke's Famous Hawaiian Mansion, Shangri La

By. Sallie Bingham
Doris Duke, pictured here at Shangri La, was the only daughter of tobacco tycoon James Buchanan Duke. When he died, the 12-year-old Doris and her mother, Nanaline Holt Inman, inherited the majority of his estate. Duke’s net worth has been estimated to have been around $1.2 billion.
Shangri La would become, in time, the beautiful vessel for Doris’s collection of Islamic art, ultimately one of the great collections in the world. (In 2014, select objects traveled to museums all over the United States.) Although several experts advised Doris as she assembled the magnificent tiles, ceramic vases, and textiles that would adorn Shangri La, their influence was minimal. She knew, from the beginning, what she wanted, based not on deep study but on a mysterious and intuitive sense of the beautiful. Creation of beauty, Doris believed, was the goal of her life. In her new biography, Silver Swan: The Search for Doris Duke, which is out today, biographer Sallie Bingham tells the story of the extraordinary property. [More]