Huguette Clark’s Doll Collection Fetches Small Fortune at Auction

Bellosguardo Foundation Remains Mum on Plans for Future

The Bacara drew dozens of doll buyers from around the world eager to bid on the late Huguette Clark’s collection. The day’s priciest doll, a two-foot-tall porcelain “Bebe Jumeau," went for $90,000. | Credit: Tyler Hayden

The cream-colored ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara was packed Saturday morning, January 11, with dozens of doll buyers from all over the world eager to bid on the $2 million collection left by the late Huguette Clark, Santa Barbara’s most famous heiress. It didn’t take long for the day’s priciest doll to get scooped up ​— ​a two-foot-tall porcelain “Bebe Jumeau” made in France in 1892. The auctioneer said she was extremely rare and in superb “un-played with” condition, wearing her original rose silk dress and matching bonnet. The bidding war was fierce. Placards shot up and down with identification numbers on one side and a print of a disembodied doll’s head on the other. By the end, Bebe Jumeau went for $90,000 to light applause.

The proceeds from the auction will go directly to the Bellosguardo Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit tasked with turning Clark’s estate above East Beach into a public arts center. The nonprofit formed in 2014, and Bellosguardo came into its possession in 2017 after a delayed decision by the IRS over gift-tax penalties owed by Clark. According to its latest financial filings, the Foundation manages $84.1 million in assets, including the 23 acres of land on which the 27-room mansion sits, the structure itself, and cash.

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