Empty Mansions

by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr

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Why would a lonely rich woman who owns several elegant estates opt to live the last 20 years of her life in a bleak hospital room although she wasn’t even  ill? The authors set out to make this mystery clear and end up telling the epic story of the Clark family, how a great fortune was made in the copper mines of Montana and later given away.

Huguette Clark as a young woman

Huguette Clark as a young woman

I found the life story of Huguette Clark fascinating reading! Though a recluse, Huguette was an expert on Japanese culture history, architecture, theater and costumes. She had many detailed replicas built of famous buildings in Japan, She collected over 1500 antique and valuable dolls: French, American and Japanese.

She collected art, an interest inherited by her father who endowed the Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C., originally  most of which came from his private collection. Huguette also painted many works herself.

Huguette herself painted this  geisha paying special attention to details in the fabric

Huguette herself painted this geisha paying special attention to details in the fabric

Huguette CLark was a very generous person and over the years she gave away most of the money she inherited, often to people she had never met. She continued to pay a generous pension to her chauffeur’s widow for her lifetime.

Bellosguardo in Santa Barbara was empty  but maintained "in original condition" by the staff for 50-odd years

Bellosguardo in Santa Barbara was empty but maintained “in original condition” by the staff for 50-odd years

Was she held prisoner and blackmailed by her doctors in the end? Did her private nurse, Hadassah Peri, take advantage of her? Why was she forced to sell her Stradivarius “La Pucelle,” and what mysteriously happened to a $10 million Degas painting? This story reads like a great mystery that we want to get to the bottom of! An intriguing story that will keep you spellbound!