Huguette paid nearly $30,000 for these collectible 19th-century French dolls at an auction in 1993. Her doll collection is valued today at $1.7 million. | Credit: Courtesy

Santa Barbara’s cash-poor Bellosguardo Foundation could gain more than $1 million from the upcoming auction of Huguette Clark’s collection of rare antique dolls. In her will, the 104-year-old Clark bequeathed her Santa Barbara estate to a foundation the city’s mayor was to organize. Since then, money issues of a gift tax and maintenance of the 1937 estate complicated the bequest, as no funds were gifted with the property, and some members of the public have demanded to know why the estate hasn’t been opened for visits. The collection — minus a curated set of historically relevant dolls for exhibit at Bellosguardo — will go up for auction at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara on January 11-12, 2020, by Theriault’s auction house.

Clark collected dolls and automata from the French golden age spanning 1860 to 1890. Japanese cultural dolls and architectural miniatures, or detailed doll-size houses, are part of her extensive collection. A recluse for nearly seven decades, Clark died at Beth Israel hospital in Manhattan in 2011, after living and being cared for in hospitals for more than 20 years. Her estate was in the range of $300 million, and she left in her 5th Avenue penthouse Monets and Renoirs, Stradivarius violins, and Cartier jewels, which have also been auctioned.


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