Empty Mansions

"Empty Mansions" by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

Huguette Clark was a very well-educated, sophisticated lady who inherited a lot of money, property, art jewelry and other valuables from her very wealthy parents. Although she had an amazing oceanfront estate in Santa Barbara, California and three uber-plush apartments overlooking Central Park, she preferred to pull the shades and retreat into one room in a New York City hospital. Although she was not ill, she lived in the hospital for 20 years!

"Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune" by  Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. uncovers some of the mystery of Huguette Clark, but leaves plenty intact. She was such a recluse that people who worked for Huguette Clark for decades never met her. But she was also generous and loyal, not just to employees but to their relatives.

After her death at age 104, Huguette's relatives challenged her will in an effort to get part of the $300 million estate. Much of the book deals with that battle. The relatives claimed Huguette was mentally ill and unduly influenced by her nurse, lawyer and financial advisor. There is plenty of evidence to support their claim on the surface. But the surface is not a good place to search for Huguette Clark.

This book is available in print and in eAudiobook format. If you choose, as I did, to listen to the eAudiobook, you will hear a few recordings of Huguette's voice. She sounds lively, interested and dear, not at all an eccentric recluse. But she was that. One can't help but wonder why. 

--Julie C., Headquarters

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