Friday, September 20, 2013

Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. open the doors to Huguette Clark's "Empty Mansions".

If you have the slightest interest in stories of old-school politics, gigantic fortunes, unbounded generosity and unceasing devotion - all sprinkled with a smattering of fascinating mystery then, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune  must be your next read. And, I mean MUST. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to your closest bookstore and get your copy today.

I mean it. Stop what you're doing and ... you don't even have to leave your desk. I'll make it easy for you: order it now!

If you're not a reader, then you have to grab the audio book. You will not be sorry because included in the audio book are phone conversations and messages that feature the sweet little high-pitched voice of Mrs. Huguette Clark. I mean, come on. If that doesn't suck you in...

For those who have just come to this space ... I have been covering Huguette Clark for quite some time. I am absolutely fascinated with the story of the Copper Heiress, who died in 2011. Just shy of her 105th birthday, Clark died surrounded by many of her beloved dolls and the nurse that had been hired to care for her at Beth Israel Hospital.

Huguette Clark was only 19 years old when her father - that would be copper baron and disgraced former Senator William Andrews Clark - died. At that time, she and her mother moved to the penthouse at 907 Fifth Avenue. In addition to living with her mother, Huguette Clark was well taken care of, financially speaking. She received an allowance of $7,500 a month (that would be about $100,000 a month in today's dollars), and when she reached 21 she inherited one-fifth of her father's estate. This was an even split with his children from his first marriage. The entire estate was estimated at up to $300 million, or about $3.6 billion in today's dollars.

During her life, Huguette Clark managed to take the roughly $60 million that she inherited and increased it to include at the time of her death, $300 million worth of priceless works of art, a massive doll collection comprised of both French and Japanese dolls, numerous musical instruments and Real Estate holdings that include two estates and two apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue in New York and, cash-on-hand.

Incredibly written by co-authors, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman and Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., this story truly opens the doors to the Empty Mansions that were once filled with music, art and life. We are treated to a glimpse into the world of one of the families that helped shape our country's artistic, political and physical heritage ... copper, railroads, a little town called Las Vegas - all tie back to W.A. Clark and his family.

In Empty Mansions we also meet a mysterious heiress who kept herself away from the outside world for decades - only speaking to people through closed doors or when she would call them on the telephone. She never gave out her phone number so people could call her. She spent her days quietly painting, having elaborate doll houses and miniature Japanese castles built while she toiled over every detail. She collected expensive dolls and fine art but, what's more is that she showered those closest and most loyal to her with a generosity second-to-none. In fact, she kept various staff members working even after she moved into Beth Israel Hospital for a stay that lasted nearly 2 decades ... well, let's face it: someone had to maintain the Fifth Avenue apartments, mansion in Connecticut and the mansion and grounds of Bellosguardo in Santa Barbara. Right?

You think the story ends with Huguette Clark's death? Think again! Make sure to follow Bill Dedman on Twitter. It appears that he is keeping us up to date on the trial that has commenced to settle the contested Last Will and Testament of the copper heiress. The plot just keeps getting thicker. Will her wishes, as laid out in her Will, be carried out? Or, will the Estate be sold off and divided between the large number of extend family - whom Mrs. Clark specifically left out of her Will. You can also, follow the proceedings on the Huguette Clark page at

The saga continues ...

BUT, to wet your appetite for Empty Mansions ... here is a video via that same Huguette Clark page at

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