By Bill Dedman
Paul Clark Newell Jr.
If you thought you heard, and knew the story of Hugette Clark.
You should check out the book, Empty Mansion.
It was written by a man who was playing a game when he was searching for a new home for his family in Connecticut. He didn't realize what he stumbled across. By chance he was NBC investigative reporter, Bill Dedman. The investigative reporting is on NBC website
I bought Empty Mansions because of the synopsis on the back cover. Who would want to live the rest of her days in a hospital room? Well, Hugette Clark did? She left her mansion empty for 20 years till her death.
She was born during the gilded age to W. A. Clark, and Anna. WA was born in Pennsylvania. Then moved out west. He dabbled in mercantile, gold, banking, mining, and then became founder of Las Vegas known as Clarke County today. He became US senator in Montana which didn't fly to well, He also was a railroad baron. He was worth billions of dollars. Was compared to the Vanderbilts, and Rockefeller.
Hugette Clark was born into wealth with her older sister. She was born in 1906 in Paris.
Then 4 years later her family moved back to the U. S. Her sister died very tragically. She eventually married, but that was short lived. She lived with her parents, then with her mother. She was a very quiet person, and stayed to her self. Only went out with her mother. She learned very early to be weary of people because of her millions.
Her family owned a home in Santa Barbara on the coastline. After her mother passed away she didn't visit any longer. She stayed in her home with her mother in New York City. She also bought a estate in Connecticut that was never used.
Hugette was worth millions, she was an artist, collector, of art, dolls, doll houses and paintings. She gave away money frivolously to many of her friends. Her employees she was very generous.
At the last twenty years of her life. She left her mansion in NYC. She was to be checked out by the doctors in Beth Israel and never left. They took her millions while she was staying in an ordinary room without a view. Her family came out of the wood work before she passed away. The only heir to her millions was her nurse for 20 years. The family protested the will.
There was more to this story. It was a fascinating story to read about the beautiful homes, and collections of dolls, and lithographs. Unfortunately her lawyers and accountants didn't keep records and watch over her fortunes. Some of her jewels became missing. As well as her Degas- Ballerinas.
She invested well in her fortunes and didn't die penniless. I enjoyed reading The Empty Mansion and learning about this fascinating woman. Not just about her eccentricities. But also her life. The changes in time from the Gilded age 1906. She lived through the sinking of the Titanic, to 9/11, to the election of President Obama. What a history to tell!!!
You can read further and see her possessions online. I posted a link on more about her. You also can check out youtube, and do your own research about this fascinating woman