Trivia Tuesday: Mr. Khan


Courtesy of New York Social Diary

Mr. Otto Kahn never quite gained the caché of some of the other early Palm Beach elite. It wasn’t for lack of trying; Khan first visited the island in 1916 and soon supported the Palm Beach Art League, built an impressive home on Sunset Avenue, was a shareholder at Palm Beach Stores (a purveyor of gourmet foodstuffs for the early/wealthy “pioneers”), and became a partner in Palm Beach Estates. He and his wife, Addie, belonged to the Bath & Tennis Club, Seminole Golf Club, Oasis Club, Palm Beach Yacht Club, Palm Beach Country Club, and the Palm Beach Angler’s Club, (later the Sailfish Club), and he was a member of the Palm Beach Men’s Club and the Palm Beach Gridiron Club. Khan even thought about buying Whitehall. But he earned lasting fame for a different reason. What is it?

  1. Working as a waiter in New York City, Charlie Chaplin once got a generous tip from Kahn. Chapin later carried a cane in his movies as a tribute to Kahn’s kindness.
  2. Khan, an opera fan, coined the phrase, “It’s not over ’till the fat lady sings.”
  3. Khan asked his Saville Row tailor to add a vest to his suits, to help guard against chilly autumn days in Maine (the Kahns had a home in Cold Spring Harbor). In doing so, he inadvertently invented the three-piece suit.
  4. Khan may have been the inspiration for Monopoly’s “Mr. Moneybags.”




Answer: 4. Khan’s Palm Beach holdings were but a small part of his portfolio. The German-born railroad/banking tycoon owned high-end properties all over the country. His Long Island home, Oheka Castle, had a golf course, a palatial formal garden and a private landing strip. It was among the largest private residences in the country, second only to the Vanderbilts’ Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. The Monopoly character certainly bears a strong resemblance to Khan (though some say it was based on businessman J.P. Morgan). The cartoon tycoon was later renamed Milburn Pennybags.

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