Christopher Sadowski
Attorney Wallace "Wally" Bock says he has always done exactly what his client, heiress Huguette Clark, has asked. He acknowledged soliciting from her a gift of $1.5 million for the community where his daughter and grandchildren live.
Investigative reporter Bill Dedman of
By Bill Dedman Investigative reporter
NBC News
updated 5/23/2012 6:06:13 AM ET 2012-05-23T10:06:13

The attorney for 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark has responded to an effort by her relatives to oust him as her attorney, ridiculing them as Johnny-come-latelies.

The detailed statement from Wallace "Wally" Bock provides his first account of the health, history and well-being of the reclusive Clark, whose fortune is estimated at $500 million.

The Queens, N.Y., attorney also said he has carried out Clark's wishes to the letter, and acknowledged that he solicited a gift of $1.5 million from his client for a community where his family lives. He also maintained it wasn't his place to fire Clark's accountant after the man pleaded guilty to a felony.

One item Bock declined to address, however, is whether or not he is named in his client's will.

Three of Clark's distant relatives, Ian C. Devine, Carla Hall Friedman and Karine Albert McCall, went to court Friday in New York City, asking that a guardian and a financial institution be appointed to protect her from potential financial abuse by Bock as well as her accountant, who is a registered sex offender. The relatives, who say the attorney and accountant have blocked family from visiting her, also asked the court to bar the two men from seeing her or handling her affairs. Clark has lived in New York hospitals for the past 22 years.

"Petitioners are nothing more than officious interlopers," Bock wrote to the court, "all three of whom are virtual strangers to Ms. Clark, and with whom Ms. Clark has knowingly and assiduously avoided contact for decades."

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You can read the full statement by the attorney here as well as the family's petition. Both are in PDF files.

Huguette ("u-GET") Marcelle Clark is the last surviving child of Sen. William Andrews Clark of Montana (1839-1925), who in his time was described by The New York Times as either the first or second richest American. His daughter has lived as a recluse, leaving unoccupied her three luxurious homes in California, Connecticut and New York City. reported on Aug. 24 that the Manhattan district attorney is investigating her finances. After a series of articles on, The DA's Elder Abuse Unit began looking at transactions in her bank accounts, as well as the sale of her Stradivarius violin for $6 million and a Renoir painting for $23.5 million.

In a sworn statement filed Tuesday morning, Bock offered his first account of his own actions and the secluded life of his client.

'Very distant relations'
The 78-year-old Bock said Clark told him on several occasions that she doesn't want her relatives to visit. She would not even allow another relative, with whom she spoke monthly by phone in recent years, to know where she lived.

He ridiculed the family who filed the petition on Friday as "very distant relations" "who have only recently appeared on the scene" and "do not claim to have any personal relationship with her." The relatives are two half-nieces and a half-nephew, descendants of Clark's father from his first marriage.

Bock confirmed that Clark donated $1.5 million to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, where his family lives, and that he solicited that gift from his client, corroborating the account of one of his former paralegals.

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"I informed Ms. Clark, as well as a number of friends and colleagues, of a fund-raising effort to develop a security system in Efrat, which is a settlement on the West Bank where my daughter and her family live," Bock wrote in his statement.

"The settlement had determined that such a system was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. It was designed to benefit everyone living there. I informed Ms. Clark of the fund-raising effort because of her continuing interest in my daughter and her family's safety in Israel.

"In my letter to Ms. Clark, I suggested only that she determine whether to make a donation and, if so, the amount. Ms. Clark decided on her own, outside of my presence, to make a significant donation, and authorized me to draw money from her account to pay for her pledge."

New York state ethics rules prohibit lawyers from soliciting gifts from clients "for the benefit of the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer."

Accountant's criminal conviction
Bock also said it was Clark's decision, not his, to retain accountant Irving H. Kamsler , 63, of the Bronx, N.Y., after Kamsler pleaded guilty in 2008 to sending pornography to undercover police posing as 13- and 15-year-olds in an AOL chat room.

"I was never in any position to fire Mr. Kamsler; that decision was Ms. Clark's alone," he wrote. "I did insist that he disclose his conviction to Ms. Clark, which I understood he did." Bock said he understood that Kamsler retained his license to practice.

Bock said that Clark signed a will more than five years ago, and stated that she was competent at the time and remains so. He did not diclose whether he stands to inherit anything from her estate.

"The draft wills that I prepared never made specific provisions to any named individual unless Ms. Clark had communicated that a gift should be made to that individual," he said.  He offered to show the will to Judge Laura Visitacion-Lewis, but not in open court, to protect Clark's privacy.

Image: Irving Kamsler
Claudio Papapietro
Irving Kamsler, Huguette Clark's longtime accountant, pleaded guilty in October 2008 to attempting to disseminate indecent material to minors. The court sentenced him to five years of probation, but he was allowed to keep his license as a certified public accountant.

Bock said he has safeguarded Clark's health, safety and welfare, maintaining that she chose to live in the hospital and wasn't shut away there against her will. "She resides there voluntarily, and has resided in a hospital setting for approximately 20 years," he said. "She has expressed to me on many occasions that she prefers living in a hospital to any of her other residences."

He describes her as physically frail, with failing hearing and eyesight. She has 24-hour private care at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, he said, registered under an assumed name since media attention began this year.

"She is attended by personal nurses at all times who ensure that she eats properly and is comfortable. I believe her personal physician also visits her on a daily basis." Any change in her guardian "would disrupt this carefully established sytem of care that Ms. Clark arranged for herself and which I have actively managed on her behalf."

'She does not want visitors'
He denied controlling her affairs and access to her, saying he has merely carried out her wishes. "Ms. Clark has explicitly instructed me on many occasions that she does not want visitors and does not want anyone — including her relatives — to know where she resides," Bock wrote.

Full coverage: 'The Clarks, an American story of wealth, mystery and scandal'

"Until last year, when her hearing loss became acute, Ms. Clark was willing to speak with a relative in California. I arranged their phone calls and routed his packages to her without any interference; she insisted that I arrange their contacts so that he would not be aware of her precise whereabouts.

"To my knowledge, her other relatives, including Petitioners, never requested to speak with Ms. Clark over the telephone. I have always fulfilled Ms. Clark's relatives' requests to the extent that I was authorized to. For example, with Ms. Clark's approval, I willingly arranged for one of the Petitioners to visit Ms. Clark's estate in Santa Barbara on multiple occasions."

He denied denigrating Clark behind her back. The former paralegal Cynthia Garcia, who worked  for Clark in 2000-2002, told that Bock joked about Clark and cursed her because she would not sign a will.

Bock also denied Garcia's claim that he told her last month not to talk with the press or investigators. He said he told her she did not have to talk with reporters if she did not want to, but she would have to speak with the police or DA if questioned.

Bock disputed the relatives' claim that Clark is not able to handle her affairs. He said she is not incapacitated. Even if she were, he said that she signed papers making him and the accountant her guardians if she should ever become incapacitated.

Since 1996, he said, he has had a power of attorney allowing him to write checks on her account. Then, in 2005, she signed a durable power of attorney allowing him to sell her Connecticut estate, which remains on the market for $24 million.

And in July 2009, Bock said, she signed a durable general power of attorney for both Bock and accountant Kamsler, making them her guardians if that ever became necessary. "We are in frequent communication, whether by phone, by mail or through her nurses and other attendants."

Gaining the trust of an heiress
Bock said he has an unblemished record as an attorney, with no disciplinary sanction in 52 years of practice. He serves on several bar association committees, is a mediator in federal court, and is a member of a city community board in Queens.

Huguette Clark in 1930
Associated Press
This is the last known photo of Huguette Clark, taken 80 years ago. She has hidden away in a New York hospital room for at least the past 22 years. This photo was made on Aug. 11, 1930, the day of her divorce, in Reno, Nev. Her marriage lasted two years. She has no children.

He confirmed that her previous attorney, Donald L. Wallace, never met Clark in the 20 years that he represented her. reported on Aug. 20 that Bock and Kamsler became the owners of Wallace's New York City apartment, and received $100,000 each from his estate, after his last will and testament was revised six times.

Neighbors and a goddaughter said Wallace had dementia for several years, during the time when the will was changed. Bock does not address these allegations in his sworn statement, but said that he helped Wallace with Clark's legal matters.

After Wallace suffered a heart attack, Bock said, he stepped in. "It took many years for Ms. Clark to become comfortable with me — to my knowledge, I am the only attorney she has been willing to meet face-to-face," he said.

Bock said he has handled all her affairs, including trying to get the taxes lowered on her Connecticut estate, bidding on dolls for her at auctions, coordinating her move to Beth Israel when her previous hospital home was closing, consulting daily with the accountant Kamsler, paying her nurses and attendants, and remodeling the Clark family mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to prepare for her eventual burial there.

He said federal tax liens placed on her homes were not evidence of mismanagement, as the relatives claim, but "the result of a failure by the IRS to credit an overpayment of taxes in a prior year to the current year's tax obligation, or the result of the IRS misplacing a properly filed return. These issues have been resolved with the IRS."

Granting an order to keep him from Clark, Bock said, would "disrupt the arrangments Ms. Clark herself made with respect to her affairs," and "deprive the right of Ms. Clark to communicate with me, her long-standing attorney."

"Mrs. Clark has always been a strong-willed individual," Bock said, "with firm convictions about how her life should be led and who should be privy to her affairs. A temporary restraining order would completely disrupt the plans she has set for her life."

Protecting Clark 'against exploitation'
Clark was divorced in 1930 and is not known to have any children. Under New York law, if she has not signed a will or if that will were invalidated, Clark's estate of an estimated $500 million would flow to her nearest relatives, descendants from her father's first marriage. These include a far-flung group of about 50 Clark kin across the United States and in Europe.

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The criminal investigation is being handled by the same prosecutor as the Brooke Astor case, in which the son and attorney of the New York heiress were convicted of stealing from her. Huguette Clark's fortune is said to be about four times that of Astor.

The distant relatives who filed the civil petition are half-nieces and nephews of Clark's. Financial consultant Devine and marketing executive Friedman, both of New York City,  and author and artist McCall, of Washington, D.C., say they represent three branches of of the family, descending from three of Sen. Clark's children from his first marriage.

"Our wish is to protect our aunt against exploitation and we are cooperating with authorities to do all that we can to ensure her health, safety and well-being," the three said in a statement.  

"They bring this petition in order to protect Ms. Clark's person and property, and to prevent the risk of further improper influence by Ms. Clark's advisors," says the petition, filed Friday in the Supreme Court of New York County, the trial-level court in Manhattan.

The relatives asked the court to bar Bock and Kamsler from visiting Clark, from presenting or sending her any documents to sign, from selling any of her property or signing any contracts on her behalf. They also requested that a financial institution be appointed to manage her finances.

The relatives asked the court to appoint an evaluator, who would visit Clark and give an opinion to the court on her competency to handle her affairs. The court usually would call a hearing within 28 days. In this case the relatives also asked for a temporary restraining order to keep Bock and Kamsler away, so a hearing may come quickly.


All of's reports and the TODAY Show videos on Huguette Clark are gathered at

Part one of the investigative report: At 104, mysterious heiress is alone now

Part two: Who is watching Huguette's millions?

The photo narrative from February on Huguette Clark and her empty mansions (on this page)

A PDF file for printing the photos

Notes and sources on the Clark family

Contact the author

© 2013  Reprints

Video: Amid inquiry, heiress’ family steps in

  1. Transcript of: Amid inquiry, heiress’ family steps in

    LESTER HOLT, co-host: Now to the growing questions about a wealthy heiress and her massive fortune. At 104 years old, Huguette Clark is lying in a hospital bed, and the two men handling her fortune are under investigation. The question is whether they're mishandling her funds. And now, for the first time , the woman's family is stepping into the fight. NBC 's Jeff Rossen tells us more.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Who wouldn't be happy with just one mansion? Huguette Clark owns three, all perfectly manicured, all sit empty. This one in Santa Barbara hugs the California coast, its value over $100 million. Her estate in Connecticut worth over 20 million. It's empty. And Huguette Clark also owns the largest apartment on New York 's prestigious Fifth Avenue , 42 rooms worth over $100 million. It's empty, too. According to, Clark hasn't seen any of them in over 20 years. In fact, she's been living in seclusion here, inside a Manhattan hospital room, surrounded by her French doll collection. Clark 's lifestyle is so mysterious, this is the last known picture ever taken of her in 1930 . Today, at 104 years old, Huguette Clark 's personal worth is an estimated half a billion dollars.

    BILL DEDMAN reporting: What we had was a feature story about an elderly woman with a lot of money and mysterious empty mansions. But now we have an investigation.

    ROSSEN: A criminal investigation into these two men, Huguette Clark 's

    gatekeepers and closest advisers: her lawyer, Wallace Bock , and her accountant, Irving Kamsler . According to, Bock quietly arranged to sell Clark 's rare Stradivarius violin for $6 million and her Renoir painting for 23.5 million. And now the Web site reports the lawyer and accountant are trying to sell her Connecticut estate for $24 million. So where's the money going?

    DEDMAN: What we have here is a kindly woman. Maybe she doesn't have all the information about what's been done with her money.

    ROSSEN: Since Huguette Clark never had any children, no apparent heirs, these two men reportedly control everything, but on Friday Clark 's nieces and nephews went to court, filing this petition against Bock and Kamsler , saying they've committed "acts of mismanagement and dishonesty" and have "abused the trust of Ms. Clark ." They're requesting a "restraining order" to keep them away from Huguette Clark 's money. Cynthia Garcia worked for Wallace Bock and spoke last week with NBC 's Bob Dotson .

    Ms. CYNTHIA GARCIA: He would write a check from her account in his name, deposit it or cash it.

    BOB DOTSON reporting: How much money are we talking about?

    Ms. GARCIA: Millions. It's always millions. Always.

    ROSSEN: Bock 's spokesman tells NBC News he "continues to act in the best interest of Ms. Clark . Any allegations to the contrary is without support." And Kamsler 's lawyer told us, he's "acted both professionally and diligently. It is unfortunate and questionable that Ms. Clark 's distant relatives are ignoring her decision to live a private life."

    ROSSEN: But in the new court papers, Huguette Clark 's relatives say her mental abilities are uncertain, and now they're asking the court for an independent guardian to handle her massive estate, a fortune she inherited from her father, a former copper magnet. Now, with her mansions empty and her handlers under investigation, Huguette Clark remains holed up in a hospital room, control of her wealth now in the hands of a judge. For TODAY, Jeff Rossen , NBC News, New York.

Photos: The Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal, mystery

loading photos...
  1. By Bill Dedman, NBC News. Why are the mansions of one of America’s wealthiest women sitting vacant? Huguette Clark's father, the copper king and "Paris millionaire senator," was the second richest American — or first, neck and neck with Rockefeller. Huguette, 103, has no children. Where is she? And what will become of her fortune?

    Click on the photo to continue. (W.A. Clark Memorial Library) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. She doesn't live here. The mysterious Clark estate in Santa Barbara, Calif., has been empty since 1963. Named Bellosguardo for its "beautiful view" of the Pacific, it's worth more than $100 million, a 21,666-square-foot house on 23 acres. Caretakers have labored at the Clark estate for generations — and not met Huguette Clark.

    Click on the photo to continue. (John L. Wiley, Back to slideshow navigation
  3. She also doesn't live here. In 1951, Huguette Clark bought this home in New Canaan, Conn. She named it Le Beau Château, or "beautiful country house." And she never spent a night in it. Now her 13,459-square-foot home, with 52 wooded acres, is for sale for $24 million, marked down from $34 million. Taxes are $161,000 a year.

    Click on the photo to continue. (Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. And she doesn't seem to live here, though her belongings are here. The largest spread on New York's Fifth Avenue is her three apartments at 72nd Street overlooking Central Park. She has 42 rooms and 15,000 square feet. That's all the 8th floor and half the 12th, worth more than $50 million. The building staff have seen Huguette ("u-GET") few times in 30 years.

    Click on the photo to continue. (Bill Dedman / Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Where did such wealth come from? It started with hard work, ingenuity and unfettered ambition. One of these miners in 1863 in Bannack, Mont., would, by the end of the century, own banks, railroads, timber, newspapers, sugar, coffee, oil, gold, silver, copper — seemingly unending veins of copper. He's on the right, William Andrews Clark, Huguette's father.

    Click on the photo to continue. (Newell family photo) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania in 1839, of Scotch-Irish and French Huguenot immigrants, Clark stood 5 feet 8½, with fastidiously tended whiskers, unruly red hair, and cold blue eyes. A contemporary wrote, "There is craft in his stereotyped smile and icicles in his handshake. He is about as magnetic as last year's bird's nest."

    Click on the photo to continue. ("The Clarks: An American Phenomenon," 1941) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. After two years panning for gold, Clark turned to selling goods he hauled by wagon through the Rockies. He bought eggs at 20 cents a dozen, marketing them for $3 a dozen to miners for a brandy eggnog called Tom and Jerry. He took a year back East to study geology at Columbia University, then returned to Montana, to Butte's "Richest Hill on Earth."

    (Lewis Pub. Co. / New-York Historical Society) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Clark made his greatest fortune in the Southwest. His United Verde copper mine, in Jerome, Ariz., yielded a profit of $400,000 a month, or in today's dollars, $10 million a month. The trading post of Las Vegas was a stop on his rail line. Here he speaks to a crowd in Las Vegas from his Pullman car in 1905. Las Vegas today is in Clark County, named for him.

    (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Libraries, Special Collections) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Clark's desire was a title: Senator Clark. Montana denied him time after time, a battle called the War of the Copper Kings. Who knows how a feud flared between Democrats: Marcus Daly, left, a Catholic who loved racehorses, and Clark, a Presbyterian who loved art. Legislators picked senators; newspapers made legislators; all were for sale.

    (Montana Historical Society Research Center) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. An aide said, "We'll put the old man in the Senate, or the poorhouse." Clark was elected in 1899, but $1,000 bills turned up in envelopes. He had to resign. Clark said publicly, "I propose to leave to my children a legacy, worth more than gold, that of an unblemished name." Privately he said, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

    (Montana Historical Society Research Center) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Clark's men tried one more audacity: On the day he resigned, they tricked the governor into traveling outside Montana. His lieutenant filled the vacancy — with Clark! When the governor returned, again Clark was out. Finally, he was elected in 1901. Though he retired after one term, for the rest of his life he insisted on being "Senator Clark."

    (Clinedinst / The National Magazine, 1905) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mark Twain had a few other names for Senator Clark. "He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a chain and ball on his legs."

    (Library of Congress) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Clark's first wife, Kate, died in 1893, leaving him four grown children. In 1904, while in the Senate, Clark announced that he had taken a second wife in France three years earlier, and that the couple already had a 2-year-old daughter. At the time of the supposed marriage, he was 62, and wife Anna was 23. No proof of the wedding date has been found.

    (The Butte Miner) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. His new wife, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle, had been Clark's ward. She came to him as a teenager for support. Clark sent her from Butte to boarding school, then to Paris, where she studied the harp. He visited by steamship. They had two daughters: Andrée, born in 1902 in Spain, and Huguette in 1906 in Paris, where they lived with Anna.

    (The Butte Miner) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. "THEY'RE MARRIED AND HAVE A BABY," thundered Daly's opposition paper. All this was news to Clark's children from his first marriage, who were older than his young wife. One older daughter wrote that, while she was "greatly grieved and dreadfully disappointed, we must all stand by our dear father."

    (The Anaconda Standard) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. After he left the Senate, Clark moved his young wife and daughters into this Beaux-Arts house he built at Fifth Avenue and 77th Street in New York. It had 121 rooms, four art galleries, Turkish baths, a vaulted rotunda 36 feet high, and its own railroad line to bring in coal. All for a family of four. It was known as "Clark's Folly."

    (George P. Hall & Son / New-York Historical Society) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Clark spent as much as $7 million on the house, about three times what it would later cost to build Yankee Stadium. The mansion's treasures included this Louis XVI salon, a marble statue of Eve by Rodin, oak ceilings from Sherwood Forest, and the grandest American collection of European paintings, lace and tapestries.

    (Salon Doré, 1770, on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Clark hosted organ recitals, so his neighbors on Millionaire's Row could see his paintings by Degas, Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, van Dyck, Gainsborough, Cazin, Rousseau. Once his chosen artworks were installed in the house, Clark bought few more. If he acquired any more paintings, he wrote, he would have to remove something.

    (Edgar Degas, "The Dance Class," 1873, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Writer Wallace Irwin set it all to verse: "Senator Copper of Tonopah Ditch made a clean billion in minin' and sich. Hiked for New York, where his money he blew, bildin' a palace on Fift' Avenoo. 'How,' says the Senator, 'kin I look proudest? Build me a house that'll holler the loudest. None of your slab-sided, plain mossyleums! Gimme the treasures of art ...

    (George P. Hall & Son / New-York Historical Society) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. ... an' museums! Build it new-fangled, scalloped and angled, fine like a weddin' cake garnished with pills. Gents, do your duty, trot out your beauty. Gimme my money's worth, I'll pay the bills.' Pillars Ionic, eaves Babylonic, doors cut in scallops resemblin' a shell. Roof was Egyptian, gables caniptian. Whole grand effect when completed was — hell."

    (One of four galleries in the Clark mansion, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Clark's wife was rarely seen in public. He wrote of Anna, "Mrs. Clark did not care for social distinction, nor the obligations that would entail upon my public life." In 1912, former Senator Clark, 73, and Anna, 34, walked in the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue with Andrée, 9. Huguette, not pictured, was just 5, starting her collection of dolls from France.

    (The New York Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. The Clark family traveled often to Paris. A ship's registry from 1914 sets birthdates for the family: William Andrews Clark, age 75, Connellsville, Pa., Jan. 8, 1839; Anna E., age 36, Calumet, Mich., March 10, 1878; Andrée, age 12, Spain, Aug. 13, 1902; and Huguette, age 8, Paris, June 9, 1906. At home, they had 10 servants and a French chef.

    (Ship's registry from the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Clark and daughters visit Columbia Gardens, which he built in Butte. It was about 1917. Andrée (left) would be about 15, and Huguette 11. Clark was 78. In 1919, a week before her 17th birthday, Andrée died of meningitis. "When her sister died, it left a hole in her life," said Huguette's great-half-nephew through the first marriage, Ian Devine.

    (Montana Historical Society Research Center) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Through the '20s, society pages chronicled the debutante. "Miss Huguette Clark, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Andrews Clark of 962 Fifth Avenue, entertained a party of girl friends yesterday at Sherry's." At Miss Spence's School for Girls, she learned politics; Isadora Duncan taught interpretive dance. Skirts had to be 3 inches below the knee.

    (The New York Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. William Andrews Clark died in his house on Fifth Avenue on March 2, 1925, at age 86, with his wife and children by his side. He lay in honor in his own gallery, as his paintings looked down. President Coolidge sent flowers. Clark's will called for a "decent and Christian burial in accordance with my condition in life, without undue pomp or ceremony."

    (The New York Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. He was entombed, along with his first wife and Andrée, in this mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His neighbors now are Woolworth, Macy, Pulitzer — all better remembered. Clark left $350,000 to a Clark orphans home; $100,000 each to Clark kindergarten and Clarkdale, Ariz.; $25,000 to Clark women's home; $2,500 to his butler.

    (Bill Dedman / Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Clark had promised his daughters from his first marriage that Anna would not inherit the New York City mansion. It was sold in 1927 for less than half what it cost to build, and was torn down for apartments. Many other houses on Millionaire's Row fell, including the Astor and Vanderbilt palaces. The Gilded Age had passed.

    (George P. Hall & Son / New-York Historical Society) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Anna got the mansion in Santa Barbara and $2.5 million. The rest of Clark's estate — as much as $300 million, or $3.6 billion today — went to Huguette and the four older children, who soon cashed out all his businesses. Huguette, 18, also received an allowance for three years: up to $90,000 a year, equal to $1 million today.

    (Bill Dedman / Back to slideshow navigation
  29. To the art, Clark attached conditions. The Metropolitan Museum could have it, if it kept it all in a separate Clark gallery forever. The Met declined. The art went to his second choice, the Corcoran in D.C. His wife and daughters paid for a Clark wing to hold it. The museum found that some of the paintings were misattributed; this Corot was authentic.

    (Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, "Repose," 1860, reworked 1865-1870, Corcoran Gallery of Art) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Clark bequeathed this advice as well: "The most essential elements of success in life are a purpose, increasing industry, temperate habits, scrupulous regard for one's word ... courteous manners, a generous regard for the rights of others, and, above all, integrity which admits of no qualification or variation."

    (Woodlawn Cemetery, Bill Dedman / Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Clark's descendants say he should be remembered as a Horatio Alger hero, a boy from a log cabin who conquered the worlds of finance, politics and art. "He lived exactly as he had planned," said André Baeyens, a great-grandson and diplomat, who wrote a book in French about the family. "He had a ferocious will to 'better my condition in life.'"

    (William Merritt Chase, 1915, Corcoran Gallery) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Bettering the condition of others wasn't his concern. Clark cut timber on federal land, and he benefitted from Arizona's "deportations" of union men who were kidnapped and driven out of state. Criticized for the sulfurous smoke and denuded landscape from his mines, he said, "Those who succeed us can well take care of themselves."

    (B.L. Singley, Butte, 1904 / Library of Congress) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. "Robber barons," some historians call the tycoons of that era. Others prefer "industrial statesmen." Unlike Carnegie or Rockefeller, Clark left little charity, only corruption and extravagance. "Life was good to William A. Clark," wrote historian Michael Malone, "but due to his own excesses, history has been unkind."

    (Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. After her father's death, Huguette Clark practiced music and art; seven paintings she created were shown at the Corcoran. In 1928, she became engaged to William Gower, a law student whose father had worked for Clark. "No married couple ever started married life under more brilliant auspices," The New York Herald said.

    (The New York Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. They were wed at Bellosguardo, the Clark home in Santa Barbara, on Aug. 18, 1928. The groom was 23, the bride 22. That year, Huguette donated $50,000 to the city to restore a salt pond behind the estate (top), called the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge. The couple moved into the elegant apartment on Fifth Avenue, with her mother in the same building.

    (Pictometry International) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. It lasted two years. To establish Nevada residency for a divorce in 1930, she moved to Reno for the summer with her mother and six servants. With the papers signed, mother and daughter took a cruise to Hawaii, then returned to the apartment in New York.

    (The Los Angeles Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. This is the last known photograph of Huguette, cornered by a photographer on the day of her divorce in August 1930. In 1931, an Irish nobleman denied reports that he would marry Huguette, then 24. She dropped her seat at the opera, and slipped from the society pages.

    (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. After her mother died in 1963, Huguette stopped visiting Bellosguardo. Vintage cars remained in the garage. Paintings stayed on the walls, depicting her sister, Andrée, living well past her death at age 16, on into middle age. A caretaker's stepdaughter, Joan Pollard, recalls, "It was immaculate, as if someone had just left for the weekend."

    (John L. Wiley, Back to slideshow navigation
  39. In 1964, Huguette gave 215 acres near Santa Barbara for Boy Scout camps. "These camps serve 4,000 kids a year," said Ron Walsh, a Scout executive. "She did a lot of people a lot of good through the years." In 2003, she sold this Renoir for $23.5 million. In 2007, the IRS placed a lien on her houses for $1 million in back taxes; it was paid quickly.

    ("In the Roses," Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1882) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Huguette is trying to sell Le Beau Château, in wealthy New Canaan, Conn., an hour from New York City. She bought it in 1951, and added the wing at top right. It has 22 rooms, nine bedrooms, nine baths, 11 fireplaces, a wine cellar, trunk room, elevator, and walk-in vault. It has sat empty for 57 years, so the kitchens need updating.

    (Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. The only residents on 52 acres are the caretaker and his son, in twin cottages, and wild turkeys and deer. The property is silent except for a waterfall. Her attorney put it on the market in 2005 at $34 million, now $24 million. Neighbors in this corner of town include Harry Connick Jr., Paul Simon, Glenn Beck and Brian Williams.

    (Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Why would someone buy such a retreat, and never use it, but hold on to it for half a century? Huguette's great-half-nephew, André Baeyens, said he was told by his mother that Huguette bought Le Beau Château as a sort of bomb shelter during the Cold War. "She wanted a place where she could get away from the horrors."

    (Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. "Huguette has always led a sort of reclusive life," said nephew Devine. "I think everybody's respected that. She wasn't just sitting in a room herself all her life. She had a small group of friends, confidants and assistants, very small, probably fewer than five people. Her world was always very small; when Anna died, it just became smaller."

    (Le Beau Château, Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Now 103, she may be in a nursing home or hospital. Relatives say they don't know, and fear that flowers and letters are discarded before they reach her. Her attorney, Wallace Bock, won't say. Devine said, "I think various family members have asked Mr. Bock for information, and he's always very respectful of his client and doesn't wish to reveal anything."

    (Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Facing Central Park with curtains drawn, her Fifth Avenue apartments contain her mother's harp and Huguette's French dollhouses. Only a few times in decades has the building's staff seen her, a thin woman retreating into the shadows. They say she's not there now. André Baeyens said of his aunt, "She's withdrawn from this world."

    (Bill Dedman / Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Her eighth-floor apartments contain two galleries, seven bedrooms, rooms for nine servants. And her fortune? Where will it go? "The rest of the family would respect her decision," said nephew Devine. "But if she leaves it all to some sketchy cause that she has no close connection to, that would be of some concern."

    ("Apartments for the Affluent," 1975, by Andrew Alpern) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Her attorney, Bock, said her hearing and eyesight have diminished with age — after all, she'll be 104 in June — but her mind is clear, and he receives instructions from her frequently by phone. He said he would not pass along a request for an interview. "She's a very private person. She doesn't care about publicity or reputation."

    (Huguette Clark in France, "Le Sénateur Qui Aimait La France," Andre Baeyens) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Tracing the lives of William Andrews Clark and his Huguette, we are left with mysteries. What does she remember of "Papa"? Is she well cared for? What will she leave to the world? "It's hard to find out what the real story was," said nephew Devine. "No one is alive — except for Huguette."

    (The Copper King Mansion) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. W.A. Clark Memorial Library
    Above: Slideshow (48) The Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal and mystery
  2. Hugnette Clark Gower
    Slideshow (17) Mystery heiress


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