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The Clark Estate

Paul Wellman

The Clark Estate


Clark Estate Art Museum in Question

Update on Future of Heiress’s Seaside Santa Barbara Property


Whether or not we’ll ever see the art museum that Huguette Clark planned at her East Cabrillo Boulevard hilltop estate remains as uncertain as it was on the day she died in May at age 104.

The vacant oceanfront estate, where she hadn’t set foot since the 1950s, is worth an estimated $100 million, but it’s cost about $8.8 million in operating costs since 1997, according to a new report from msnbc.com reporter Bill Dedman. With her distant heirs in the early stages of a massive battle over her $400 million estate, there’s a possibility that, if they prevail, the property would instead be sold. Additional questions are being raised in legal documents about the millions spent by her attorney and accountant, who are both under criminal investigation by the New York DA, according to Dedman.

The Clark Estate
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

The Clark Estate

Clark’s will cut out her family entirely, but left about $34 million to her nurse and more than $17 million to her attorney, Wallace Bock, and accountant, Irving Kamsler. “In all, the records show $126.3 million in spending by her attorney and accountant during (the last 15 years of her life) and another $43 million that was transferred into her personal account, apparently to cover her own spending,” reported Dedman. “The total of $170 million works out to $1 million per month for a woman who never left her hospital room during that time.”

The Clark Estate
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

The Clark Estate

Among other things, she spent more than $3 million on dolls and gave nearly $2 million to her attorney’s favorite charity, Dedman said. Although Clark was apparently not ill but found a hospital room a safe haven from the world, her primary physician earned $521,000 during the last 22 years of her life and was named in her will for another $100,000, according to Dedman.

Her closest friend, Suzanne Pierre, earned $1.7 million as her social secretary, and received a $10 million gift in 2000. Bock’s law firm earned about $250,000 a year and Kamsler about $90,000 a year, but stand to gain $8 million each if the court allows them to act as executors of Clark’s estate, Dedman said. Both would earn additional fees as directors of the charitable foundation she set up for the Santa Barbara art museum.

The Clark Estate
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

The Clark Estate

Her unoccupied Fifth Avenue apartment, said to be the largest property under single ownership on the prestigious avenue in New York, cost her about $3.75 million during the past 15 years, just for taxes and co-op fees. She was the daughter of mining billionaire Sen. William Clark and had no children.

For the full archive of Huguette Clark stories, photos, and videos on msnbc.com, go here .

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