Thursday, May 26, 2011

Should heiress Huguette Clark's story get the Anna Nicole treatment?

Last known photo taken of H. Clark | 1930
Ladies and Gents, correct me if I'm wrong - don't we think that the life and death of zillionaire copper heiress Huguette Clark would make a great opera?

Huguette Clark was already a mystery. Now there are new glimpses into the life of the reclusive heiress.

The daughter of a disgraced former U.S. senator, Huguette inherited millions from the Montana copper mines, and has lived a solitary life while her three fabulous homes sit empty...

...Who protects an old lady who secluded herself from the world, limiting her life to a single room, playing dress-up with her dolls and watching cartoons? Who protects an old lady whose Stradivarius violin, the famous one called "The Virgin," which her mother gave her as a 50th birthday present, has been sold secretly for $6 million? Who protects an old lady whose dearest friend, a social secretary to whom Huguette supposedly gave $10 million, now has Alzheimer's and is unable to visit anymore? Who protects an old lady who has no children, and whose distant relatives have been prevented from visiting her? Who protects an old lady whose accountant fell behind on his own federal income taxes and is a convicted felon and a registered sex offender?

Interest in Huguette Clark was sparked in February by's photo narrative,
"The Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal and mystery.". The story was one of the most popular ever on Yahoo! Buzz named Huguette Clark a hot topic of Web searches. The TODAY Show followed up with a report and newly discovered photos of Huguette. The New York Daily News breathlessly declared, based on the Today report, "Reclusive 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark enters hospital," which is true enough, though that event happened at least two decades ago. The tabloid also compared her to Paris Hilton, which will be an apt comparison if Miss Hilton doesn't have her photograph taken in the next 80 years.
It's just beyond interesting, right?

As you've probably seen in the news over the last couple of days, Ms. Clark died on Tuesday - just shy of her 105th birthday. She died surrounded by her dolls and the nurses that had been hired to care for her at the New York Hospital that she had called home for some 20 years - where she had been registered under an alias.

But, why did Clark remain - some say by choice - in the hospital for 20 years when she owned the largest apartment on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue? The 42 room, 15,000 square foot manse was decorated with priceless art, furniture and more of Clark's personal doll collection. She also owned an estate in Connecticut and, perhaps most famously, she owned Bellosguardo - a 21,666 square foot ocean front estate on 23 acres of pristine land in Santa Barbara. Not a single visitor had been to Bellosguardo since 1963 but, Huguette Clark paid to have the estate kept up by the same family of caretakers for generations ... in fact, many of the caretakers had never met Clark.

Clark mausoleum Thursday | By John Makely
In addition to being the sole heiress of these estates, she also was worth some $500M. Known by many for her generosity, she had cut off all ties to her extended family and friends about 6 or 7 years ago and it is rumored that only her personally chosen nurses and one of her attorneys were allowed to see her. A second attorney that Clark had hired used to have to conduct business with the heiress through a crack in her hospital room door.

After passing away on Tuesday, Huguette Clark was entombed as she had lived - in a shroud of mystery. There was no funeral and her relatives were barred from paying their last respects. In fact, the location of her burial was also a mystery to many as it wasn't until recently that there was room for Clark in the family mausoleum.

Again, from
Although her father's mausoleum was built before she was born, its last crypt was occupied when Huguette's mother, Anna, died in 1963. Beginning in 2008, her attorney obtained consent from the Clark family, all of whom are descendants from her father's first marriage, for an additional space to be added inside the mausoleum.

Construction didn't begin until this spring, allowing Huguette to be entombed next to her beloved older sister, Andrée, who died of meningitis at age 16 in 1919, when Huguette was 13. Also resting in the massive granite mausoleum are their mother, their father the senator, his first wife, and other children and relatives from his first marriage.
So, this morning, before the public gates opened at Woodlawn Cemetery, her casket was carried by funeral home employees up the 18 steps of the Clark family mausoleum. The bronze door was open, leading to a private chapel with gold-inlaid ceiling, a tile mosaic floor, and an altar with the inscription, "Nearer My God to Thee." Huguette Clark was then laid to rest next to her father, mother and sister. After the door was closed, one single small bouquet was placed at the foot of the doorway.

SO dramatic ... so mysterious ... so operatic!

I have a feeling that this story isn't going to stop here. Any takers on crafting it into the next operatic gem? Hey, if they can do it for Anna Nicole ... why not Huguette Clark?

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