Copper baron W.A. Clark's comparatively healthy daughter, Huguette, spent the last twenty years of her life living in a hospital, despite being worth approximately 400 million and owning several empty mansions and Central Park apartments.
W.A. Clark began his career selling eggs to gold miners; from there he went into banking, and banking led to an investment in copper mines that appeared to be played out in Montana and Arizona. Clark was a sharp cookie; he was smart enough to go back to school to learn all he could about geology and recognized some copper ore samples from Arizona at the Chicago World Fair to be extremely high grade; this led to the purchase of the Arizona mine, one of the most productive in the world.
Some say Clark had more money than Rockefeller; he owned a mansion in NYC near the Vanderbilts and another "vacation" manse, Bellosguardo, in California. Clark was married twice; when his first wife died, he married a much younger woman, Anna LaChapelle, a French Canadian. When he died he left his fortune to his five surviving children; his wife got over two million, which was agreed upon in a prenuptial. Huguette Clark was the sole surviving child from his second marriage. She inherited Bellosguardo and later had a mansion of her own built, Le Beau Chateau in Connecticut. While looking for a house, author Bill Dedman discovered the abandoned Le Beau Chateau, which was never lived in but kept in excellent shape. As an investigative reporter, this led Dedman to an even bigger find, Bellosguardo, in California, also abandoned but kept livable in the event the owner, Huguette Clark, would ever want to visit or live there. She also owned three apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue in NYC, overlooking Central Park. Dedman's story and several updates led to a national sensation.
Huguette lived at 907 Fifth Avenue in her own apartment; her mother owned another a few floors below, but when Anna died, she became a recluse. A horrible case of skin cancer led her to Doctor's hospital, which became Beth Israel where she lived for over twenty years.
Huguette was no hermit; in her youth and middle age she was an artist, but her marriage to a handsome childhood friend ended in divorce. Dedman and his co-author, Huguette's cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr. never go into Huguette's sexual hang-ups, but she obviously had some, maybe just terrible shyness. She left her honeymoon after the first week and returned to NYC to live with her best friend, her mother. She had a later relationship with a sort of fake French nobleman, who apparently really loved her, if his letters are any indication. She supported both of them for the rest of their lives.
Some might cal Huguette a weirdo; she had a fixation with dolls, especially Japanese dolls and doll mansion, which she spent thousands, if not millions on. She was also a big fan of the "Flintstones" and "The Smurfs".
Huguette also gave millions and several houses to her day nurse, Hadassah Peri, and that leads to the final suspense. Who got Huguette's money and mansions after she died? 19 relatives, all of whom were related to W.A.'s first wife (her children got four-fifths of his fortune when he died), filed suit to contest her will, which gave most of her money to Hadassah, her doctor, her lawyer, her accountant, her goddaughter, her personal assistant, and a foundation that would take care of Bellosguardo and the museum that displayed her father's art collection in Washington D.C. The mystery is whether her lawyer and her accountant were crooks who took advantage of Huguette. Beth Israel also tried to pressure her into giving most of her money to the hospital.
Dedman doesn't reveal the results of the law suit. Maybe it was still ongoing. It could be another BLEAK HOUSE for all we know, going on for years. A psychiatrist did get a chance to talk to her, and if I were an investigative reporter, I think I could find a way to find out what she thought about Huguette's shyness and various other quirks. Does a dead person still fall under client privilege?