Armie Hammer’s father Michael has died aged 67 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
The businessman, who worked in investment banking before taking over family firm Occidental Petroleum, passed away on Sunday.
A family representative confirmed the news Tuesday, saying in a statement, ‘Michael Hammer has passed away after a long, hard fight with cancer.’
The spokesperson added the millionaire oil mogul ‘is now at peace.’
Aside from his 36-year-old son Armie, Michael is survived by his wife Misty and younger son Viktor, 34. He also leaves behind an ex-wife in Dru Ann Mobley, Armie’s and Viktor’s mother. The pair divorced in 2012 after 27 years of marriage.
Best known for his ties to Occidental, Michael reportedly inherited a $40million dollar fortune from his late grandfather, industrialist Armand Hammer, who ran the company until his death in 1990.
His death comes just months after his actor son – once among Hollywood’s A-list elite but now a struggling addict at the center of several scandals -traveled back to LA from the Cayman Islands, where he was spotted selling timeshares at a resort in July.
A source at the time said Armie was working the gig because he ‘needs the money’ because his father ‘won’t help him anymore and he’s been cut off.’ That decision came shortly after Armie found himself at the center of a LAPD investigation, when a woman claimed the actor ‘violently raped’ her.
It has since been revealed that his late father also led a checkered life, being embroiled in one New York City ‘s biggest art fraud scandals and reportedly keeping a sex dungeon in the Armand Hammer Foundation headquarters in Carpinteria.
Insiders have also claimed the businessman had ‘the mindset of a teenage boy’, as well as a twisted sex drive that echoes similar allegations surrounding his embattled son – who, if not for his recent trouble, would likely inherit his family’s empire.
Armie Hammer’s father Michael has died aged 67 after a prolonged battle with cancer, TMZ reports
The businessman, who worked in investment banking before taking over family firm Occidental Petroleum, passed away on Sunday, the website said
Armie Hammer is pictured out in Los Angeles last month in a dressed-down ensemble including sandals and what looked like a shrunken t-shirt
Michael is the son of Julian Hammer – a hotheaded Hammer scion who killed a man over a gambling debt in the 50s – and wife Sue Kane, who was from Texas.
Julian allegedly sexually abused his daughter Casey, and did not follow in his industrialist father’s footsteps like his son eventually would.
The family also had roots to the old Russian empire, with Michael’s paternal grandmother, Russian-born actress Baroness Olga von Root, being the daughter of a czarist general.
The strange past of the Hammer family was unearthed in a Vanity Fair exposé last year which claimed many of the men in the well-to-do family, going back as far as five generations, had a unmistakable ‘dark side.’
It provided a backdrop to Armie’s life and upbringing, and sheds light on why the actor’s recent scandals – including recently leaked text messages from the actor to a woman he was trying to woo in which he aired twisted fantasies of cannibalism and BDSM with his would-be lover.
Several women have since spoke out accusing the Lone Ranger star of emotional abuse and similar violent sexual escapades.
One of those accusers, 22-year-old Paige Lorenze, told the magazine Armie had confided in her about the ‘dark stuff’ in his family and was ‘proud’ of it.
Lorenze claimed Armie’s mother Dru – who reportedly helped tame MIchael’s playboy lifestyle during their marriage – confided in her that she was fearful her son was lost to ‘the devil’.
Michael, meanwhile, inherited the family business empire from his grandfather Armand, who made his fortune investing his third wife’s money in Occidental starting in the late 50s.
According to Vanity Fair, cash also came from ‘wide-ranging grifts, including laundering money, using artwork to fund Soviet espionage, bribing his way into the oil business and knocking off Fabergé eggs’.
Michael inherited the family business empire from his grandfather Armand, who made his fortune investing his third wife’s money in Occidental Petroleum
Armie Hammer as a baby with grandfather Armand Hammer, Julian Hammer and Michael Hammer. Michael Hammer took almost the entire family fortune and was embroiled in New York City’s biggest art fraud
Armand would then leave most of his family members high and dry when he died in 1990, apart from apple of his eye Michael, who took the lion’s share of his grandfather’s fortune.
While her brother Michael inherited two art galleries, two foundations and a sizable chunk of the multi-million dollar fortune, his sister Casey – Julian’s daughter and Armie’s estranged aunt – told Vanity Fair her father received just $250,000 of the fortune.
The divvying of the magnate’s assets came as a shock and led to rifts that wrangled through the courts.
Last year, Casey said she had just $100 in her savings account and was holding down a job at Home Depot due to her father Julian, Arman’s only son, being disinherited years before, due to out-of-control behavior that reportedly saw him abuse members of the family.
‘If you would have told me in my 20s that I would end up financially challenged, single, and working at Home Depot, I would have bet you a million dollars that wouldn’t have happened,’ she said.
Casey detailed the dark secrets about her family’s history in a Discovery+ docuseries titled ‘House of Hammer’, including allegations her father would shoot guns at her and allegedly battered their mother, Glenna Hammer, leaving her covered in blood, before their divorce.
She said she thought Michael could help, given his fortune. She said just one of the family paintings he has would help her get on her feet – however, before his death Tuesday, the pair never reconciled.
Michael’s mother Glenna, meanwhile previously told The Washington Post her son ‘forgot about us’ after he came into the money from his grandfather in the early 90s.
At the time, he also started offloading some of the family’s legacy, handing the Hammer Museum to the UCLA art department in 1994 and asking the Metropolitan Museum of Art to remove Armand’s name from the Hall of Arms and Armor so he didn’t have to pay the remaining $1 million.
Michael then moved his family – Dru, Armie and Armie’s brother Viktor – to the Cayman Islands before returning to California around a decade later.
In 2011, Michael’s galleries became embroiled in a huge art scam that went back almost two decades when the Knoedler Gallery and its former director Ann Freedman were sued for selling a fake Jackson Pollock painting.
He was embroiled in a $70 million fraudulent ring selling counterfeit paintings going back to 1994 at the family-owned Knoedler Gallery
Michael had inherited the Knoedler Gallery in New York City from his grandfather, who had bought the business in 1971 for $2.5million.
Accusations of a forgery ring surfaced in 2009 but only became public in 2011 when the gallery closed and hedge fund executive Pierre Lagrange sued the gallery and its director after he was sold the forged Pollock for $17million.
A probe into the allegations uncovered an alleged $70million fraudulent ring selling counterfeit paintings going back to 1994.
It turned out the paintings were actually the work of a relatively unknown artist in Queens.
Ten lawsuits were settled and one case went to trial in 2016 with Sotheby’s chairman Domenico De Sole and his wife Eleanor accusing the gallery of selling them a fake Mark Rothko for $8.3million.
Although Michael was not personally accused of wrongdoing in the fraud ring, during court testimony it was claimed he had been using the gallery’s funds for his personal expenses including two luxury cars and a trip to Paris.
But Michael never answered to the allegations as the case was settled just an hour before he was due to testify.
Armand Hammer in 1977 who made the family fortune and snubbed most of the family when he died
Armand, Julian, Michael and Armie Hammer. Insiders claim Michael keeps a ‘sex throne’ or as he allegedly calls it the ‘naughty chair’ in the Armand Hammer Foundation HQ
One source told Vanity Fair this was all part of the family’s penchant for ‘spending other people’s money’ as they called them the ‘lucky sperm club.’
‘We call these guys the lucky sperm club here,’ the insider said. Never accomplished anything. They know a whole lot about spending other people’s money.’
Other habits that allegedly run in the family include a fondness for kinky sex, with a former friend of Michael’s saying he was ‘not the least bit surprised’ when he heard the allegations about Armie’s sex life.
The friend – as well as two other sources – told Vanity Fair Michael bragged about having a sex throne inside the family business’s HQ.
The chair is reportedly about ‘seven feet high, features a chair with a hole in the seat, a cage underneath, and a hook’ with the Hammer coat of arms painted on the seat.
According to the report, a smiling Michael is pictured in a photo sitting on top of the throne while holding the head of a smiling blonde woman, who is sitting in the cage below.
Counsel for Michael and the Armand Hammer Foundation told Vanity Fair the claims about his sex throne, drug and alcohol use, finances, and history with women were ‘absurd’.
‘These questions, which ask about unsolicited gag gifts sent by friends, conduct that sounds pretty typical of recently-divorced people, and entirely legal financial transactions that were properly accounted for, are absurd,’ said the counsel.
Chambers and Hammer were snapped at the Parisian premiere of his film Call Me By Your Name in 2018
Armie Hammer, 35, was seen over the summer in Los Angeles with estranged wife Elizabeth Chambers, 39, and their two kids, Harper, seven, and Ford, five
Hammer took the children to meet up with Chambers, who appeared sporty in black biker shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers in the summer
But friends told the outlet he ‘has the mindset of a teenage boy’, would send x-rated photos to his friends and embarked on ‘a string of women, illicit substances, and tattoos’ after his split from Dru.
It was an apparent bust-up with his son that contributed to hopping on a plane out of the Cayman Islands last summer.
It was a move said to have triggered divorce proceedings by Armie’s wife Elizabeth Chambers and the damaging claims brought by several women.
Courtney Vucekovich, who claimed in January Armie was into ‘master-slave fetishes’ and told her he wanted to break and eat her ribs, told Vanity Fair Armie confided in her he was escaping his ‘crazy family’ after almost getting into fist fights with his father.
Armie and Michael had been holing up in a luxury villa in the Cayman Islands under lockdown alongside Michael’s latest wife Misty, Elizabeth and Armie’s two kids.
‘Within the first five minutes, he was basically like, this all goes back to my horrible childhood,’ said Vucekovich.
‘It’s not the most romantic thing, but we bonded over past trauma.’
Hammer returned from the Caymans after he was mobbed by media when photos showing him working as a timeshare salesman went viral
Earlier in July, Hammer’s attorney denied that the actor was working as a salesman, following a viral tweet with an image that that showed his face on a pamphlet as concierge for a hotel
Armie Hammer was staying at a home owned by Robert Downey Jr. in Malibu where he was also attending AA meetings. Pictured: Downey Jr’s sprawling seven-acre compound. It’s unclear whether Hammer is staying at this property or another owned by the Ironman star
His departure in the middle of the pandemic was reportedly the ‘final straw’ for Elizabeth who had endured years of infidelity, a friend told Vanity Fair, and she filed for divorce the following month.
Vucekovich revealed new details about her relationship with Armie telling Vanity Fair he made her ‘feel bad for him’ before he ‘love-bombs you like crazy… And then he starts the manipulation and the darker stuff.’
She told Vanity Fair she was left ‘with regret’ following one encounter after she said she agreed to ‘a bondage scenario that I was not comfortable with.’
While Armie allegedly opened up about tensions with his father, one of the other women to come forward in January 2021 claimed Armie’s mother confided in her she was ‘so worried’ about her son and feared the devil was trying to ‘take’ him.
Dru allegedly told Lorenze she was ‘so worried about Armie and so grateful for me because she felt like I was a good influence on him.
‘And that she just wanted him to accept God back into his life. And that he had just been fighting everything for a long time.’ Armie’s parents are only part of the picture.
Scandal and shocking tales have rocked the family for at least five generations, starting with Dr. Julius Hammer, Armie’s great-great-grandfather.
He was a central figure in the US Communist Party, who was convicted of manslaughter for performing a botched abortion on the wife of a Russian diplomat in 1919 where she later died.
While in prison, his son Armand – the man behind the family empire – took over his pharma business Allied Drug and was personally endorsed by Vladimir Lenin in a letter to Joseph Stalin.
Armand, who married three times, later tried to distance himself from his Soviet past and reportedly mingled with senior political figures including Senator Al Gore Sr., attended the presidential inaugurations of FDR, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush and hung out with Prince Charles.
He was pardoned by Bush in 1989 after he made an illegal contribution to Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign which is said to have helped pay toward the Watergate scandal.
His son Julian, Armie’s grandfather, carried on the legacy for scandal when he killed longtime friend Bruce Whitlock in Los Angeles in 1955.
The FBI said the killing was over a gambling debt and he was charged with first-degree manslaughter but the charges were dropped.
According to Vanity Fair, Armand sent $50,000 in cash to a lawyer in Los Angeles before the charges were dismissed.
Julian has also been accused of sexually abusing his daughter Casey when she was a child.
Casey made the claims in her 2015 memoir Surviving My Birthright. She also claimed Julian was abusive to other members of the family.
Jan Ward, Casey and Michael’s half sister, declined to comment on the allegations when approached by Vanity Fair.
‘I will say that I love my family very much which includes my brother, my sister, and my nephews…I do have wonderful memories of us kids spending every summer at Laguna Beach with our Grandma Olga and spending the holidays with our parents and grandparents,’ she said in a statement.
‘We were all blessed to be able to attend excellent schools thanks to Grandpa Hammer who was a great supporter of education.
‘Our family taught us the value of hard work and I have had a fulfilling career and a wonderful family life.’