One of the unanswered questions in the saga of Huguette Clark, the reclusive 104-year-old heiress, has been this: Has she signed a will directing who should inherit her wealth, a Montana copper fortune estimated at $500 million?
Yes, she has a last will and testament, a spokesman for Clark's attorney said Wednesday.
The will "has been in existence for some time," said Michael McKeon, spokesman for Wallace "Wally" Bock, Clark's attorney for more than a decade.
McKeon would not say who the beneficiaries are, or whether they include her attorney.
Msnbc.com reported on Aug. 20 that Clark's attorney and accountant became the owners of the New York City apartment of another elderly client, a lawyer at Bock's firm, after the man's last will and testament was revised six times. They also received $100,000 each from the estate of the elderly man, Bock's former associate, Donald Wallace, and the accountant received Wallace's Mercedes sedan.
Msnbc.com reported last week that the Manhattan district attorney is investigating the finances of the 104-year-old Clark, daughter of a Montana copper miner, U.S. Sen. William Andrews Clark. The DA's Elder Abuse Unit has detectives 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.
Her wealth is managed by her attorney, Bock, 78, of Queens, N.Y., and her certified public accountant, a convicted felon named Irving H. Kamsler, 63, of the Bronx, N.Y. Kamsler pleaded guilty in 2008 to attempting to distribute indecent material to 13- and 15-year-old girls online, and remains a registered sex offender in New York. The men have not been accused of a crime in the handling of the Clark finances.
"We welcome an independent review," said McKeon, Bock's spokesman, "because we know it will demonstrate that Ms. Clark's affairs were handled appropriately, professionally and consistent with her wishes.
"Over the years," McKeon continued, "Ms. Clark has made all of her own decisions — including insisting on maintaining her privacy. In short, she has lived her life the way she has wanted to.
"Despite the numerous inaccurate assertions being made, Mr. Bock will continue to fulfill his professional obligations to honor and enforce her requirement of privacy."
Clark was divorced in 1930 and is not known to have any children. Under New York law, without a will 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 Clarks across the United States and in Europe, with whom she has had only limited contact, partly because Bock and Kamsler have barred visits to her, some of the relatives have said.
In an article Wednesday on msnbc.com, Cynthia Garcia, a paralegal who worked for two years for Bock, in 2000-2002, described repeated unsuccessful attempts by Bock and Kamsler to persuade Clark to sign a will. Garcia said she didn't know whether a will was signed after she left Bock's firm.
Huguette ("u-GET") Marcelle Clark is the last surviving child of William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), who in his time was described by The New York Times as either the first of second richest American. Huguette has lived as a recluse for several decades, leaving unoccupied her three empty homes in California, Connecticut and New York City.
Clark is said to be alert and in good health for her age, but she left her Fifth Avenue apartment for hospital rooms some 22 years ago. She turned 104 in June.
More links for "The Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal and mystery":
All of msnbc.com's reports and the TODAY Show videos on Huguette Clark are gathered at clark.msnbc.com.
Part one of the investigative report: At 104, mysterious heiress is alone now
Part two: Who is watching Huguette's millions?