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Image: Wallace 'Wally' Bock
Christopher Sadowski
Wallace "Wally" Bock, attorney for Huguette Clark, outside his office in Manhattan on Thursday, after the district attorney began investigating his client's finances.
Investigative reporter Bill Dedman of msnbc.com
By Bill Dedman Investigative reporter
NBC News
updated 9/1/2010 7:02:47 AM ET 2010-09-01T11:02:47

Huguette Clark, the reclusive 104-year-old heiress, is known as generous toward those who care for her, including her social secretary, who received a $10 million gift. It's now clear that her longtime nurse has also been a recipient: To her, Clark has given the money to buy four homes for her family.

Clark also has made gifts benefiting her attorney's family, including a dollhouse worth more than $10,000 and a $1.5 million security system for the settlement where the attorney's daughters and grandchildren live in Israel.

Cynthia Garcia, a paralegal who worked for two years for Clark's attorney, Wallace "Wally" Bock, described those gifts in an interview with msnbc.com. Garcia also said that Bock and Clark's accountant drafted a will that would have left money to Bock, trying repeatedly to persuade her to sign it — then joked about their client and cursed her behind her back when she would not sign the will.

The paralegal also said that attorney Bock called her last week after investigators started looking into Clark's affairs, encouraged her to leave town, and offered to pay for an attorney to represent her, who then told her not to talk to investigators or the press.

A spokesman for Bock acknowledged the gifts, but said that he acted "appropriately, professionally and consistent with her wishes."

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 and heiress to one of America's great fortunes. 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, estimated at half a billion dollars, 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. The men have not been accused of a crime.

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

Msnbc.com also reported that the attorney and accountant became the owners of the New York City apartment of another elderly client after his last will and testament was revised six times.

Private nurse on call
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. A few years later, she hired a nurse through an agency, and that nurse has been with her ever since.

Huguette Clark in 1930
Associated Press
This is the last known photo of Huguette Clark, taken Aug. 11, 1930, the day of her divorce, in Reno, Nev.

Hadassah Peri, 60, is an immigrant from the Philippines and a registered nurse. She has spent long hours at the hospital as Clark's private nurse and is on call 24 hours a day, according to her attorney, John P. Reiner. Property records show that Peri owns at least six properties in the New York area, including four that Peri's attorney confirmed were gifts from her employer.

Clark gave Peri the cash in 2000 and 2001 to buy two apartments in Manhattan, on E. 96th Street near Park Avenue, for Peri's children to use as dorms while they were in college, the attorney said. They're valued between $200,000 and $350,000 each, according to property records.

There also is a two-unit house near Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, near the Peri family home. Clark offered to buy this house so there would be room for Peri's visiting family to stay. It's valued at about $700,000.

Finally, there's a vacation house next to a golf course on the Jersey Shore near Long Branch, N.J., valued at about $500,000.

Peri referred all questions to her attorney, Reiner, who said Clark bought the four homes for Peri and her family as gifts to thank her for nearly 20 years of attentive service.

The paralegal
Cynthia Garcia, the former paralegal for Clark's attorney who has been interviewed by the DA, described expensive gifts that benefitted the family of attorney Bock — including the dollhouse and the security system. She first described these gifts in Saturday's New York Post.

Bock's spokesman, Michael McKeon, confirmed that those two gifts were made, but he said the paralegal has many of the details wrong and is just seeking "her 15 minutes of fame."

Image: Cynthia Garcia, former paralegal for Wallace "Wally" Bock, the attorney for heiress Huguette Clark
Courtesy of Cynthia Garcia
Cynthia Garcia, former paralegal for Wallace "Wally" Bock, attorney for heiress Huguette Clark.

Cynthia Garcia, 42, worked for Bock from 2000 to 2002, and now lives in Florida.

She told msnbc.com that Clark gave Bock's granddaughter an antique Barbie dollhouse worth more than $1 million. Bock's spokesman, McKeon, said the dollhouse was neither an antique, nor a Barbie dollhouse, and was worth somewhere in the five figures, between $10,000 and $100,000.

Garcia also said Bock solicited from Clark a check for $1.5 million after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to build the security system, which Garcia called a "bomb shelter," for the community in Israel where his daughters and their families live.

McKeon, Bock's spokesman, said Clark did make a donation of about $1.5 million to the community in Israel, but it was not to Bock's family. He said it was for a sophisticated security system for the community — not a bomb shelter — and that the money was handled scrupulously through an attorney inIsrael, with money placed in an escrow account and paid out as needed for the installation. If Bock's family were to leave the community, McKeon said, the security system would stay.

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," but allow some gifts that are volunteered.

'Consistent with her wishes'
Huguette ("u-GET") Marcelle Clark is the last surviving child of William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), a copper miner and U.S. senator who in his time was described by The New York Times as neck and neck with John D. Rockefeller for the title of richest American. Huguette, born in Paris and married only briefly, had no children. She has lived as a recluse for several decades, leaving unoccupied her three empty homes in California, Connecticut and New York City. Her attorney, Bock, has said he is the first of her seven attorneys to meet her, and that even he has met her only twice.

Image: Huguette Clark
Copper King Mansion Bed And Breakfast, Butte, Mont.
Huguette Clark, heiress to a copper fortune, has been secluded for decades. In June she turned 104 in a New York hospital.

In an interview with msnbc.com, the former paralegal Garcia made several other claims about the conduct of Clark's lawyer and accountant.

Kamsler and Bock have not responded to repeated requests for explanation, but McKeon offered point-by-point rebuttals to some of Garcia's claims, and also issued a blanket statement on Bock's behalf:

"Ms. Garcia, over the last couple of days, has made a number of wildly inaccurate and reckless statements," McKeon said. "Both her credibility and her motivation are suspect. She appears to be a person attempting to garner her 15 minutes of fame.

"An independent review will demonstrate that Ms. Clark's affairs were handled appropriately, professionally and consistent with her wishes. For many years, Ms. Clark has insisted on maintaining her privacy. Despite the numerous inaccurate assertions being made, Mr. Bock will continue to fulfill his professional obligations to honor and enforce her requirement of privacy."

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The paralegal and her former employer give different accounts of her employment. Garcia said she quit when she was disgusted by Bock's handling of Clark's affairs, was rehired with a raise when Bock begged her to return, and then quit again. Bock's spokesman said Garcia was fired for scheduling a vacation during a busy season, begged until she was rehired, and then quit without notice.

'The conversation'
In the interview with msnbc.com, Garcia said Bock and Kamsler — the attorney and accountant — would gather around a speakerphone from time to time for "the conversation" with Clark, who then was about 93 years old, urging her to sign a will.

Without one, under New York law Clark's estate would flow to her nearest relatives, descendants from her father's first marriage. These include her half-great-nieces and nephews with whom she has had only limited contact, partly because Bock and Kamsler have barred visits to her, some of the relatives have said.

"Every month, Wally would have the conversation, which would take place around 3 o'clock," Garcia said. "Wally would have a double scotch on the rocks. He'd call Irving over. They'd both get on speakerphone with Mrs. Clark. Her voice is very firm. Wally would say, I'm doing everything for your benefit."

But Clark would not sign a will, Garcia said.

"Wally would send over drafts, and she would mark them up in red pen and send them back with corrections. But then she'd say 'enough!' She never signed a will." At least one draft, Garcia said, would have left money to Bock, though Garcia said she couldn't be sure of the amount.

Bock's spokesman, McKeon, said Bock "would just be doing his job" if he encouraged his client to have a will. McKeon declined to say whether Bock was ever named as a beneficiary in one of the drafts.

Mrs. Clark was the object of jokes between Bock and Kamsler, Garcia said. "They were laughing about her. We've got to get a will — that stupid bitch," the former paralegal said.

McKeon said Bock always treated Clark respectfully.

'Everything has to go through me'
The pleading for a signed will was so insistent, Garcia said, that Bock's law partners pulled a joke at a holiday party, presenting him with a carefully prepared last will and testament with a fake Clark signature, naming him as a beneficiary.

When Clark would give expensive gifts to friends, such as the $10 million she gave her friend and social secretary Suzanne Pierre in 2000, Bock "would call her and yell at her to stop doing that," Garcia said.

Image: Donald L. Wallace
Family photo
Donald L. Wallace, former attorney for Huguette Clark, in early 2002, shortly before his death. His apartment, $200,000 and his Mercedes went to his accountant and attorney, who are now Huguette Clark's accountant and attorney.

"The way he yelled at her, it was like a reprimand of a 12-year-old. He would really talk down to her. He scolded her. 'You don't do anything financial. Everything has to go through me. You don't just give things away.'"

Again, McKeon said, Bock was "just doing his job."

Bock would write large checks to himself from her account, Garcia said, before his semiannual trips to Israel to visit his children and grandchildren. "Fifty-thousand, seventy-five thousand dollars," Garcia said. "These were from her account, not his." She said she didn't know what the checks were for.

McKeon said he did not know anything about this, but that Bock has handled all of Clark's finances in an above-board manner.

An elderly client
Garcia also said she never met a man named Donald Wallace, although her signature is on a document testifying to his good health. Her signature is on a 2000 codicil, or amendment, to his will, a document that left Wallace's Manhattan apartment and $100,000 each to his attorney, Bock, and his accountant, Kamsler. Wallace was Huguette Clark's attorney before she handed her affairs over to Bock. The transfer of Wallace's property was described in a recent article on msnbc.com. Wallace's goddaughter and two neighbors said that he was suffering from dementia for several years before he died in 2002.

Garcia said it was indeed her own signature on the document, but looking at a photo of Wallace she said, "I don't remember seeing him." She also said she couldn't have affirmed, as the document says, that Wallace was "of sound mind, memory and understanding and not under any restraint or in any respect incompetent."

The other witness to the codicil, attorney Monica Regina Dempsey, was a junior associate in Bock's office in 2000 and now is an attorney for a hospital in New Jersey. She told msnbc.com that she doesn't remember one way or another whether she signed the Wallace papers, but that as an attorney she wouldn't sign a sworn statement that was not true.

McKeon said he didn't not know anything about the Wallace case. You can read the Wallace court records in this PDF file.

'Wrap me up and shut me up'
Garcia also said that Bock called her in Florida last week, after msnbc.com published the investigative reports, urging her to take a vacation and not to talk with anyone. Because Garcia's name was on the Wallace documents, which were published by msnbc.com, reporters were starting to call her.

"At that point I was frantic. I don't want these reporters stalking me," Garcia said. "I told him, I feel like your shenanigans have turned my life over. I'm going to my mother's. He said, ‘They'll find you there.’

Irving H. Kamsler
Nassau County District Attorney
A booking photo from the arrest of Huguette Clark's accountant, Irving H. Kamsler, charged with attempting to distribute indecent material to 13- and 15-year-old girls online. He pleaded guilty in 2008 and remains a registered sex offender.

"He said, 'When's the last time you went on vacation? Wouldn't this be a fabulous time?' I said, 'I don't have the money.' He said, 'Something could be arranged.'"

Bock's spokesman, McKeon, said it was Garcia who initiated the conversation by calling the accountant Kamsler, complaining that the press was hounding her, and that Kamsler passed the message to Bock, who called her back. McKeon said Bock did not offer to send her on vacation, but that Garcia made the suggestion, fishing for Bock to pay for it.

The paralegal said she then received a call from McKeon, Bock's spokesman, offering for Bock to pay for an attorney for her. McKeon, a former newspaper reporter in New York, has handled communications for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign and former Gov. George Pataki.

"He said, 'Bock is offering you an attorney to protect and guide your interests' and to guide me in the the right way," Garcia said. She said she then heard from a Florida attorney, who told her "not to talk to nobody."

"They want to put me in a box and wrap me up and shut me up," Garcia said.

McKeon said that he did offer on Bock's behalf to pay for her attorney, and did have an attorney in Florida talk with her, but instead she decided not to hire any attorney, so far as he knows. But the offer, he said, was "not inappropriate or unethical," McKeon said. "She's a former employee of the firm. She's going to be talking with the district attorney, and anyone in that situation would want an attorney."

"It was to be her lawyer, regardless of who would pay," McKeon said. "It would be her independent adviser to help her through this."

As for Bock's handling of the reclusive heiress's affairs, McKeon said, "Over the years, 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. After more than 50 years as an attorney, Wally Bock has an excellent reputation and an unblemished record."

In April, without fanfare, Clark gave $10,000 to the Paul Clark Home, a charity which her father established for homeless and orphaned children in honor of his late son in Butte, Mont., where he built his fortune. The director of the home wrote to Clark in March after seeing the first part of msnbc.com's Clark narrative, and reported receiving a check and a letter from Bock.

The Paul Clark Home still needs another $65,000 to do some painting, and to fix its roof and gutters.

---

Related content
More links for "The Clarks: An American story of wealth, scandal and mystery":

Image: Huguette Clark around 1910.
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Huguette Clark with one of her dolls around 1910. "Her closest companions have always been her dolls," said her friend Suzanne Pierre.

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?

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 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Is wealthy heiress a victim of elder abuse?

  1. Transcript of: Is wealthy heiress a victim of elder abuse?

    ANN CURRY, co-host: A few weeks back we brought you the story of Huguette Clark , a wealthy heiress whose lavish mansions sit empty. She's now living in a New York City hospital. But some of her closest advisers are under investigation. NBC 's Jeff Rossen is now joining us with details on this. Jeff , good morning.

    JEFF ROSSEN reporting: Hi , Ann , good morning to you. She's one of the richest women in America and one of the most secretive, too. Huguette Clark is now 104 years old and lives like a recluse. Now investigators want to know if her inner circle is stealing her money. 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 . Forty-two rooms worth over $100 million. It's empty, too. According to msnbc.com , 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 is msnbc.com 's investigative reporter.

    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: An investigation into these two men, Huguette Clark 's gatekeepers and closest advisers, her lawyer, Wally Bock , and her accountant, Irving Kamsler , a convicted felon who in 2008 plead guilty to attempting to send pornography to teenage girls. Since Huguette Clark never had any children, these two men reportedly control everything, including her fortune and the tightly guarded access to her hospital room.

    DEDMAN: The Manhattan district attorney is looking into how her finances have been handled and the actions of her attorney and her accountant, who control her wealth and access to her in her hospital room.

    ROSSEN: According to msnbc.com , Wally 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 the accountant are trying to sell her Connecticut estate for $24 million. So where's the money going?

    Mr. DAN ABRAMS (NBC News Chief Legal Analyst): An investigation doesn't necessarily mean there was any wrongdoing. But it does mean that the district attorneys are, at the least, a little suspicious. When you've got someone who's this age, who's this reclusive, with this few relatives, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what is an accountant or a lawyer authorized to do or not do.

    ROSSEN: Msnbc.com reports for 104 years old, Huguette Clark is awake and alert. But it's unclear if she has a will.

    DEDMAN: What we have here is a kindly woman who's secluded herself in her apartment, and then in a hospital room, and therefore has made herself vulnerable to being kept out of the loop . Maybe she doesn't have all the information about what's been done with her money.

    ROSSEN: Money she inherited from her wealthy father. Now with her mansions empty, no apparent heirs, and her handlers under investigation, Huguette Clark 's life is as mysterious today as it was a century ago. One of the accusations here, that the lawyer and the accountant won't even let Clark 's own relatives visit her in the hospital. Now I spoke with the lawyer, Wally Bock , by phone, he denies any wrongdoing but won't comment on anything else. And we should also mention that we called the accountant but never heard back from him.

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, http://flickr.com/photos/jw4pix/) 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 / msnbc.com) 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 / msnbc.com) 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 / msnbc.com) 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 / msnbc.com) 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, http://flickr.com/photos/jw4pix/) 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 / msnbc.com) 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
    AP
    Slideshow (17) Mystery heiress

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