Clark Estate

Paul Wellman

Clark Estate

Clark Mansion May Be Sold

Negotiations Begin over Fate of Santa Barbara Hilltop Property

Friday, August 16, 2013
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Negotiations are underway in New York to decide whether the late Huguette Clark’s hilltop property on East Cabrillo Boulevard will become an arts foundation or be sold.

About 60 lawyers, the New York attorney general, and 19 of Clark’s distant relatives, to whom she specifically left nothing, are debating over her $307 million estate, according to NBC News investigative reporter Bill Dedman.

If sold, who would buy her Cabrillo Boulevard mansion, with magnificent ocean, mountain, and city views, and valued by some at $100 million? The relatives, 14 of whom never met Clark, insist that Bellosguardo, as the property is known, be put on the market, according to Dedman.

There are serious restrictions on the use of the property, due to conditions set by the City of Santa Barbara several years ago in approving historic preservation status. It could not be cut up for condos, for instance, city officials have said.

As of now, its future is cloudy. A jury trial is scheduled for September 17 in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan. If the jury throws out Clark’s will, her entire estate goes to the relatives, Dedman said.

After Clark died in a New York hospital at age 104 in 2011, her relatives, descendants of her father’s first marriage, challenged the will, contending that she was mentally ill and incompetent, and the victim of fraud by her nurse, attorney, and accountant.

In addition to creating the hilltop Santa Barbara arts foundation to house her New York art collection worth millions, the will leaves $15.3 million to her mysterious nurse, Hadassah Peri. Peri also received more than $31 million during Clark’s life, and the estate’s administrator wants it all back, Dedman said. Also, how much of the $15.3 million would Peri give up as part of the settlement?

“How much would satisfy the family?” Dedman writes. “After asking for 75 percent of the estate at first, the family has lowered its negotiating position to 60 percent. The attorney general has proposed this week that that the family receive about $41 million, or less than a quarter of the estate.” The attorney general is siding with allowing the arts foundation to have the Santa Barbara property.

Dedman, along with Paul Clark Newell Jr., are authors of Empty Mansions, the story of Clark’s bizarre life, due to be published by Ballantine Books next month.

Read more here.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I don't know if Barney is responsible for the headline as opposed to the text, but the NBC article is contrary to the headline. For the first time in my reading, and I have tried to keep up on this matter, the New York Attorney General supports the bequeath to the local art museum. That is great news. I just wish we could have found funding to retain a lawyer to advocate for our interests. Hopefully the Attorney General stays firm. I expect we would be the easy pawn to give away without an advocate in the room.

sbreader (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 11:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Chump change, let me whip out my checkbook and quit everyone's crying.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Forget the family.. they had nothing to do with her when she was alive, why should they now?

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I would think Santa Barbara could have afforded a lawyer to represent the city's interests.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 11:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What possible interest does the city have, except maybe for a whopping increase in the property tax base?

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2013 at 6:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Forget the family? What did Santa Barbara have to do with Clark to deserve such a gift?
As a museum it would not pay property taxes, as a private estate that sold for around $100M it would pay $1M a year in property taxes.

Careful what you ask for.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2013 at 8:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's an idea ... move Casa Esperanza there. Then where the shelter is now, turn it into another winery or microbrewary, as is the trend for that part of town. Don't call me Shirley.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2013 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"What possible interest does the city have, except maybe for a whopping increase in the property tax base?"
-- Botany

Tourism bucks. Rich tourists, by the way, because how many of the proletariat class appreciate fine art?

And, loneranger, the related tourism taxes might outweigh the property tax.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2013 at 10:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Should Dedman's exhaustive work ever be brought to the big screen, or even HBO, I should think Helena Bonham Carter would be a perfect fit as Huguette. And remember, I get a finder's fee! lol!!

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
August 18, 2013 at 5:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The last thing this town needs is more rich a$$holes on the beach.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 7:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It would be a nice hotel

jshir (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey, Caruso, tme to unload the lot near the train tracks, and go for the top of the hill.

jshir (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The art collection is not especially notable by international standards.

Seems to me the property would better serve the City and County if it were on the tax rolls and maintained as a private estate.

Sell it. Let some fat cat buy it and pay, by my estimate, about 100,000 in annual property taxes...that is a far better way of recycling money.

If the art needs to be seen, there's other museums for that which could certainly use a new painting here and there...

Let the heirs sell it and be done with it

thomas592003 (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 7:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If it turns into a hotel with some add on bungalows, like El Encanto, not only does SB get property tax, but bed tax and sales tax.

jshir (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2013 at 7:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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