Was Huguette Clark Crazy?

Executors of the copper heiress’s estate seeking the return of $105 million in gifts the late recluse gave to doctors and hospital employees claim she was not all there mentally.

Attorney John Morken, executor of her estate, said in court papers that when she left her Fifth Avenue apartment in 1991 and was admitted to hospital she “was an eccentric recluse living in chaos and in an old, soiled bathrobe and weighed 75 pounds.”

She was “incapacitated,” Morken said.

But according to Beth Israel Hospital officials, Clark, who died at the hospital at 104 in 2011, was sane enough, for instance, to follow the stock market and the 2000 Bush-Gore election recount, according to the New York Post.

As executor, Morken is going after funds on behalf of Clark’s distant relatives, who won $34.5 million in a will dispute earlier this year.

The dispute is now in the hands of a New York Surrogate’s Court judge.

True, she spent the last 20 years of her life in a hospital room rather than in her luxurious Fifth Avenue apartment or at her hilltop Santa Barbara mansion, but she was in “full control of her affairs,” an attorney for the hospital countered.

Clark Tax Bill

Meanwhile, the tax man has been busy at Clark’s hilltop Bellosguardo estate on East Beach. According to my sources, the annual tax assessment jumped from $2,131,000 in 2011, when she died, to $46,818,000 last year.

The resulting tax bill climbed from $22,295 to the present $491,000, my sources say. Adding maintenance and other costs, the annual budget is pushing $1 million, my sources estimate.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Dyer Returns as Interim Fire Chief

When Eric Peterson steps down, Mike Dyer will fill in for County Fire.

Santa Barbara Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Olympia Competition

At 43, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden ties for the oldest champ in the contest's history.

Renovated Cabrillo Ball Park Now Open

The park got new exercise equipment, multi-use grass turf areas, and an upgraded softball field.

UCSB Researcher Charged with Molesting Child on Campus

Dr. Hongjun Zhou was arrested September 6.

Teen Serial Robber Caught and Confesses

The suspect was identified through an anonymous tipster.