This Was the Titanic’s Richest Passenger

RMS Titanic

This Was the Titanic’s Richest Passenger

Who was the Titanic’s richest passenger? A ship with such an illustrious background as the Titanic had its fair share of wealthy passengers. However, there is one person who stands out when compared to the rest of the passengers. Today’s list takes a closer look at the wealthiest person on the Titanic, their life, and what happened when the ship sank.

John Jacob Astor IV

titanic's richest passenger
Astor was born into the lap of wealth and was one of the wealthiest people in America.

The honor of the Titanic’s richest passenger goes to John Jacob Astor IV, born in 1864. He was the youngest of five and the only son of William Backhouse Astor Jr., a businessman and racehorse breeder.

Early Days

titanic's richest passenger
Astor grew up on his family’s estate before starting his ventures.

As the Titanic’s richest passenger, Astor’s earliest days were spent on the family’s estate in Ferncliff, located in Upstate New York. Astor’s family was already tremendously wealthy thanks to his great-grandfather’s business in the fur trade. However, it was a sign of things to come later down the line.

Military Service

titanic's richest passenger
Astor’s time during the Spanish-American War was marked with distinguished service.

Astor was like many Americans in the late 19th century and served in the Spanish-American War. From 1893 to 1896 he served as a colonel for the governor of New York. When the war broke out in 1898, he ran a volunteer artillery brigade stationed in the Philippines. He was discharged later in the same year.

The Astoria

titanic's richest passenger
You can still find a room in the Waldorf-Astoria.

Like his forebears, the Titanic’s richest passenger had an interest in real estate. Where Astor made his mark was the construction of the Astoria Hotel. A fierce rivalry with his cousin led to an eventual joining of forces with the neighboring Waldorf Hotel. The result would be the world-famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Curiously, Astor’s crowning achievement would serve as the location for inquiries into the sinking of the Titanic.

A Second Marriage

JJ Astor and Madeline Astor
Astor’s second marriage ended up igniting a scandal in New York’s social scene.

Astor created a scandal at the age of 47 in 1909 when divorcing his first wife, Ana Lowle Willing. He remarried the 18-year-old socialite Madeline Talmage Force in 1911, a year before he would board the Titanic. Both marriages would bear children, with a John Jacob Astor VI coming about in 1912.

The Titanic

RMS Titanic
The Astors were the wealthiest passengers on-board during the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

The Titanic’s richest passenger and his wife ended up boarding the ship due to her pregnancy. It was Astor’s wish that his newest child be born in the United States. They embarked on the ship in Cherbourg, France, and were the wealthiest passengers onboard the ship at the time. Astor and his wife traveled first class, as you might imagine.

His Final Hours

JJ Astor's Funeral
Astor’s funeral drew quite a crowd.

John Jacob Astor IV’s final hours as the Titanic’s richest passenger were dignified. His priority was helping his wife and her nurse board the lifeboats to give them a chance at survival. Astor did inquire to the shiphands about the boat his wife boarded in hopes of joining her. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after his wife and her nurse boarded, the ship sank, disappearing beyond view and ending Astor’s life.

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