Years of ostentatious living and meager profits left Jefferson severely in debt toward the end of his life. He never recovered his losses, and was forced to submit to the embarrassment of a lottery in his support, later followed by an auction of his personal belongings. One of the rarest combinations of disgrace and distinction the United States has ever known, Thomas Jefferson died at the age of eighty-three on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after his Declaration of Independence was immortalized by the approval of Congress.
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Known for spending lavishly on books, wine and, above all else, his beloved Monticello, Jefferson left his heirs under a small mountain of debt when he died on July 4 , 1826. His daughter, Martha Randolph, was forced to sell the estate, which had already entered the early stages of decay due to years of neglect. In 1836, it was bought by Uriah Levy, a real estate speculator who was the first Jewish American to serve an entire career as a commissioned Navy officer; he and his nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy, are largely responsible for its restoration and preservation. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, a nonprofit organization, purchased the property in 1923 and continues to operate it as a museum and educational institution.