Those of the children who have been hanging around awhile know that Your Mama has a bit of a thing for the saga of reclusive and mysterious American heiress Huguette Clark.
Miz Clark, for those of you kids who find her name foreign, was born into a copper and mining fortune, raised in splendor in Montana and New York City mansions, educated abroad and ultimately left with a staggering fortune estimated to be around half a billion bucks. For decades Miz Clark has lived not in one of her several monstrous high-maintenance residences around the country but in near seclusion in an unmarked hospital room at New York City’s Beth Israel Medical Center.
Bellosguardo, her hulking multi-winged 21,666 square foot mansion in Santa Barbara has not, it is said, been visited in 40 or 50 years. An 52-acre estate in New Canaan, CT was expanded and remodeled after purchasing in 1952 but never occupied by the mysterious lady of the house. For decades, while she languished in an ordinary hospital room, her luxurious full-floor prairie-like spread on New York’s Fifth Avenue–plus the half-floor apartment a few floors above–were kept spotless and ready for her return.
But alas, Miz Clark was not to return. The elusive heiress, bless her secretive heart, finally went to meet her maker this week at the ripe old age of 104.
What will happen now to Miz Clark’s considerable wealth, which includes but is not limited to considerable cash reserves, an art collection and a real estate portfolio easily worth well in excess of a hundred million clams, remains to be seen. Some worry the old bird was surrounded by a couple of money grubbing charlatans the last couple of decades who may have acted in their own best self-interest and kept the few distant relatives Miz Clark does have at a considerable distance. Any relatives over the last few dozen years who attempted to contact or visit Miz Clark were reportedly rebuffed and rudely rejected. The advisers, an attorney (Wallace “Wally” Bock) and an accountant (Irving H. Kamsler), both have sordid pasts and have been been under investigation for elder abuse and their handling–or mishandling–of Miz Clark’s financial affairs.
All interested parties in Miz Clarks affairs wait now for the reading of her last will and testament and any codicils that may have been attached. No doubt her estate will be in dispute for years while her most recent aides and advisers attempt to lay claim to some part, if not all, of her assets while the distant relatives and district attorney try to sort out the the whatnots and wherefores of how Miz Clark really wanted her fortune dispersed.
‘Tis a fascinating story, butter beans, and one told in great length and detail by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bill Dedman over at msnbc.com. A long list of Mister Dedman’s articles on the matter can be found here.