Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Heiress Huguette Clark: The surprise in her bank vault

More on our favorite heiress... Last week, we reported that Huguette Clark's massive real estate holdings at 907 Fifth Avenue were put on the market. Fetching a possible $55 million, the three apartments figure out to be some 17,000 square feet of prime Manhattan real estate. Although Clark had not been living in the apartments, they remained fully furnished with furniture, priceless musical instruments, paintings by the likes of Monet and van Gogh plus, of course, Clarks huge collection of French and Japanese dolls.

Clark spent the last 20 years of her life in a secluded hospital room - admitted under an alias. During her absence though, the apartments were meticulously maintained by Clark's staff - many of whose families had served Clark and/or her mother Anna for generations. Some of the staff that maintains Bellosguardo, her seaside mansion in Santa Barbara, California, say they had never saw the heiress. Even during her last visits to Bellosguardo, only a select few members of her staff were allowed to see her. Others were kept away.

So mysterious ... hmmmm.

Well, another update: it appears that real estate holdings aren't the only items belonging to Huguette Clark that are going on sale. Christie's has announced the sale of millions of dollars of jewelry discovered in Huguette Clark's bank vault. The jewels, which were locked away for more than seven decades, will go on auction at Christie's New York on April 17.

Before her self-imposed seclusion in 1930, Clark was pictured wearing several of the pieces, including the photo at the right where she is wearing two Cartier diamond bracelets resembling the two pieces from her collection that are pictured below. This photo of Clark was snapped just after she signed her divorce papers in Reno, Nev., following the breakdown of her two-year marriage.

Also being sold is and art deco crystal clock, left, is valued at $15,000-$20,000. And one of the more personal items is an onyx, turquoise and diamond frame containing a picture of Clark's sister Andree, who died of meningitis just before her 17th birthday, in 1919. Many speculate that it was Andree's death - the two sisters were incredibly close - that sparked a possible germ phobia in Huguette ... ultimately leading to her seclusion.

There are other items - the priciest of which is a rare pink cushion-cut 9-carat diamond ring valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 and $8 million. Christie’s believes that it may have been passed down to Clark by her mother, Anna. How's that for a gift?

Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie's, told the TODAY Show, "To have this collection of jewels from the gilded age is going to be fabulous at auction. It's one of the best periods of jewelry manufacturing."

This sale has historians and obsessives (like Yours Truly) waiting on the edge of our seats - hoping that the auction will give the public a peek into Clark’s vast personal estate and maybe even yield some clues as to why she disappeared from society and remained secluded for the majority of her life.

Below is a video clip from the TODAY Show segment:

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