Did Edison die poor?

The January, 1932 issue of Modern Mechanix invited us to weep for poor Thomas Edison, who allegedly bankrupted himself with dumb real-estate deals before dying, going to his grave a poor man. Edison was a notorious rip-off artist (he once told Nikola Tesla that the money he'd been promised would never come to him, and that Tesla just "didn't understand American humor) and liked to electrocute animals for kicks, so a pauper's death sounds like pretty reasonable karma to me.

Mr. Edison secretly expressed to me the hope that some day I would write just this kind of a story so that it might form a sort of guidance to inventors who would pick up the threads of science where he left off.

During our last meeting I distinctly remember how he placed his arm around my shoulder and said, "I have told you all. Be discreet. Do not tell everything until after I am gone. Then, after I have departed, you can do inventors and scientists a great duty by telling the rest…"

Mr. Edison replied, in his own handwriting: "Would not like to do this for many reasons. At present my income has nearly disappeared on account of the depression in business."


See also:
Edison electrocuted an elephant 105 years ago today
Edison and the music biz: nothing's changed
Edison's mistakes recapitulated by RIAA