The unreal Armie Hammer family history shows a long, dark legacy

'If you believe in making deals with the devil, the Hammers are top of the totem pole'

armie hammer at new york fashion week in 2018
(Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Armie Hammer's fall from grace is the subject of a new documentary, but the actor's story is just one small part of an unthinkable family legacy.

After a slew of allegations, including rape, threatening text messages and cannibalistic fantasies, Armie Hammer quickly went from Hollywood's golden boy to a tainted name, in turn causing many onlookers to wonder: "Where is Armie Hamer now? What happens next?"

According to his aunt, Casey Hammer, who appears in Discovery+'s Armie Hammer documentary, House of Hammer, none of these anecdotes about her nephew came as a surprise. 

"You don't just wake up one day and become a monster," she told Insider (opens in new tab). "It's a learned behavior and again, that's why I wasn't shocked by a lot of what was happening."

Before the Call Me By Your Name star was accused of physical and emotional abuse, the men in his family generations before had committed similar—and worse—acts.

"If you believe in making deals with the devil, the Hammers are top of the totem pole," Casey says in the documentary. 

Armie Hammer family history: what to know

Before Discovery+ decided to shed light on the actor's news, the Hammer family was the subject of books, like Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer by Jay Epstein and feature stories. 

Vanity Fair's (opens in new tab) exposé on the Hammers takes a look all the way back to Dr. Julius Hammer, Armie's great-great-grandfather, who was jailed in 1919 for manslaughter after performing an abortion on a Russian diplomat's wife, which ultimately killed her days later. 

When the family business was left in the hands of Julius' son, Armand Hammer, things grew worse. 

Armand Hammer

armand hammer headshot

(Image credit: Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images)

The actor's great-grandfather, Armand Hammer, took control over finances and invested his third wife's fortune into Occidental Petroleum. His reputation was tainted by acts of money laundering and espionage, though he was in elite circles with the likes of Prince Charles. 

When he passed in 1990, Armie's father, Michael, became the head of the family. 

Michael Armand Hammer

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Per Insider, Michael inherited his family's fortune and Knoedler Gallery in New York, which was ultimately exposed by the F.B.I. for selling fake work. He also manages the Hammer International Foundation and the Armand Hammer Foundation, among other businesses.

It seems odd that Armand would bypass his son, Julian, but given that he reportedly killed a man in 1955 due to a gambling dispute—a charge that was ultimately dropped—Julian was only rewarded $250,000.

Despite the name, there's no connection between Armie Hammer and the baking soda brand, per Slate (opens in new tab). The Arm & Hammer brand was founded in 1867, a whole three decades before Armie's namesake, Armand Hammer, was even born.

However, Armand Hammer did own a considerable stake in Church & Dwight, the company that manufactures Arm & Hammer products, in the 1980s, and also served on the company's board of directors. 

a headshot of Armie Hammer at an event in 2018

(Image credit: John Lamparski/WireImage/Getty Images)

As far as the actor goes, he had just completed a stint in rehab following the 2021 allegations and was laying low in the Caymen Islands with his estranged wife, Elizabeth Chambers, and their children. According to reports from People (opens in new tab) in July 2022, Hammer was cut off from his family fortune. 

"Every generation of my family has been involved with dark misdeeds. And it just gets worse, and worse and worse," Casey says. 

The three-part series, House of Hammer, is set for a Friday, September 2 premiere on Discovery+.

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos and honed in on astrology coverage within the Life vertical. She's partial to writing pieces about the next big TV obsession—anyone else impatiently waiting for "Conversations with Friends"—and keeping you up to date on new trends like the latest must-have from Zara. 

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a new book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)