Gloria Vanderbilt Dead: Son Anderson Cooper Delivers Tribute

"Legendary artist, fashion designer, and Class of 1942 alumna, Gloria Vanderbilt passed away today at the age of 95", wrote the Wheeler Alumni Instagram account.

She was not yet 2 years old when her father, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, died and she spent numerous following years living in Europe with her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, on her trust fund, which was estimated at $2.5 million - the equivalent of at least $33 million today.

Gloria Vanderbilt died this morning, according to her son, CNN's Anderson Cooper.

He added: "She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend".

'She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they'd tell you: She was the youngest person they knew - the coolest and most modern'.

The American artist, author, actress, fashion designer, heiress and socialite was born in 1924. In a highly public court case in the 1930s both Gloria's mother and paternal aunt sought custody of her and control over her trust fund.

Although her life was played out on a public stage from the outset, her fame spiked in the late 1970s when she teamed with apparel-maker and entrepreneur Mohan Murjani to pioneer designer jeans for women that carried her signature on the rear pockets. Her work also graced a collection of scarves before she started the line of jeans and expanded to perfume, shoes, leather goods and accessories.

By the 80s, she was a household name. She divorced DiCicco two months later, promptly remarried - this time, to conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was 63 at the time. Because the lawyer had not paid her taxes for several years, she owed the Internal Revenue Service so much money she had to sell a summer home in Southampton and a New York City home.

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Their elder son, Carter, a Princeton graduate and editor at American Heritage, took his own life aged 23 at his mother's NY home, an event she witnessed.

"Every time I kissed her goodbye, I'd say, "I love you, Mom", he said. "At 85, whatever she wants to write is fine with me".

Her sexuality became a matter of newspaper gossip amid a 1932 custody battle that eventually saw her stripped of the right to raise her daughter.

"She spent a lot of time alone in her head during her life, but when the end came, she was not alone", he said. Carter died by suicide in 1988 at age 23. Love is what she believed in more than anything.

"I did know that".

The network said Vanderbilt died at home among family and friends. "She would look at me and say, 'I love you, too". She said the connection was instant, that she knew him for a week and married him three weeks later.

In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine alongside Cooper, she revealed to her shocked son: "I went through a brief so-called lesbian relationship with a girl in school". Actresses Alyssa Milano called her "an incredible woman" and Dana Delany said she treasures one of Vanderbilt's paintings, while model Carol Alt hailed her as a "fashion icon and innovator".

  • Michelle Webb