Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where is Huguette Clark?



ROSEMARY: Huguette Clark may not be as famous as Brooke Astor, another fabulously wealthy centenarian, but her story is starting to percolate in Connecticut and in Santa Barbara, where she owns two palatial estates that she's either never lived in or hasn't visited in over 40 years. That's in addition to the 42-room apartment on Fifth Ave.

Ms. Clark has recently moved into an undisclosed medical facility in New York.
And, as you might expect, enormous, questionable gifts and payouts to lawyers and faithful employees have got some relatives scratching their heads.

This from nydailynews.com...

Reclusive for decades, Huguette Clark has abandoned her wildly valuable properties, which remain empty but well-tended by staff. A life of incredible privilege took a bizarre turn with the death of her mother - and Clark traded in aristocracy for eccentricity.

"Everything stopped for her when her mother died," Andre Baeyens, Clark's grand-halfnephew, told NBC's "Today" show... "She didn't want to go out. She didn't want to have beautiful things, no, no. She just wanted to be home and play with her dolls."

She was obsessed with dolls.. once she flew a doll first-class to Paris with her personal physician along to ensure its safety, the "Today" report said.

She inherited her fortune from her father, William Clark, a U.S. senator and Montana tycoon who made a killing from copper mines, railroads and Las Vegas property. Her birth raised eyebrows in high society because her father - the second-richest man in the U.S. at one point - was 39 years older than her mother and no marriage license was recorded.

She's amassed a real estate portfolio that would make Donald Trump blush.


If I wasn't already knee-deep (should be waist-deep, but I'm not) in my next book I would take a crack at this story.
What do you think? What story would you write with this beginning?

19 comments:

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, her photo is haunting...

Silver James said...

Hank, you're right! That photo is haunting and the forensic photographer in me is wondering what an age progression would look like. Then the civil court officer in me starts to wonder if she's suffering from dementia and in need of guardianship, or if someone close to her started a drug regimen that led to her eccentricity.

But then the paranormal muse starts waving her hand. Witch? Vampire? Werewolf? Perhaps that undisclosed medical facility is more than just a medical facility...

Nononononononoooooooo! I have too much going on. Must. Not. Plot!!!!

Rochelle Staab said...

I'd begin when her father meets her mother. 39 years older? That's a story in itself.

I want to know more. How old was Huguette when her parents died? How the hell did they come up with her name? I already feel creepy housekeepers looming... good lord, how many years has she lived alone?

Jan Brogan said...

I'm hoping its the cute, orderly at the Medical facility and that Huguette at least got a roll in the hay before he started bilking her estate.

And I'm with Rochelle. Where the the did they come up with Huguette? ANd how is it pronounced?? Rhymes with baguette?

Rhys Bowen said...

I'd guess it rhymes with baguette, the u making the g hard. I'd also guess she's a female version of Hugh?
Now I'm wondering where I can put her into one of my future plots.

Rhonda Lane said...

Over the holidays, we finally got around to watching the Howard Hughes biopic THE AVIATOR.

So, that's what popped into my head when I saw Huguette's story. What would she have been like had she not veered into isolation? What made her retreat to her dolls? (Sorry, yes, "The Valley of the Dolls" DID just occur to me ::sigh::) Was it childhood conditioning, as with Hughes? Was she an agoraphobic? Would she have been a Brooke Astor-type heiress? Or a Paris Hilton? I know I watch a lot of SF for a mystery fan, so I often think of Alternate Universe possibilities.

Rosemary Harris said...

Yes, the picture is almost Lewis Carroll-like. There are so many jumping off points for a story..the parents' age difference, the lack of a marriage license, the dolls..
I may try to visit the house in New Canaan..

Leslie Budewitz said...

Her father was notorious out here in Montana -- one of the Copper Kings, who built the mines and the amusement park and cheated his way into politics, in the tradition of the Robber Barons who exploited the natural resources of the west, keeping the money and leaving ravaged land and people behind. Apparently Huguette never lived out here. It's astonishing to think of all that wealth, and all that emotional trauma. Here’s the Butte newspaper’s account: http://www.mtstandard.com/special-section/local/article_ddf9b498-e215-57af-9c5b-1389e29a3543.html And an update on control over her assets: http://www.independent.com/news/2010/sep/16/huguette-clark-mystery-deepens/

Megan said...

The story is similar enough to my own family's that I've written a blog about it. Enjoy.

http://dad-memorial.blogspot.com/

wentchjones said...

I am fasinatied my Ms. Huguette Clark. I feel it is more of curiousity for the way she chose to live. How I would love to hear the stories she has to tell. The photos to me are mystical. What was she thinking, how was she feeling, and what would she like to change about the situation. I love the photo of the home, as I see it. It reminds me of what I have read of her: lonely.

wentchjones said...

The story of Huguette Clark is one that fasinates me. Some would think of it more as curiousity. I would love to sit and hear her stories of what once was. Her self portrait is not haunting but tells of a young girl who is lonely and starving for friendships. The photo of one of her homes tells me the same thing.

I can not judge a person for the lives they choose to live, for I know nothing personal about them, but I can hope for the stories they choose to share so I may better understand.

mm said...

Huguette was named after Hugouets - French protestants who follow Calvin teachings. She was most likely autistic/asperger's --> her history has classic traits: NO desire to be social (not just afraid/shunning), artistic (many paintings in Met), very quiet, VERY few relationships (romantic or regular), very little desire (or ability?) to be separated from her mother or other caretakers, etc.


Her dad, Wm.Clark was one of 3 "Copper Kings" here in Montana. Of the three, Clark did have the most "icy" reputation, however he did nothing which other such 'businessmen' did at that time to gain success in a US territory (NO state/national laws). It's amazing, actually, what he accomplished: established the city of Las Vegas, had several mines and mansions built for him and his family all over the world, from LITERALLY nothing he became as rich (or more?) than the wealthiest man in the world (Rockefeller), and more. He did get the 'bad rap' socially (maybe deserved some/most of it), but he was the most successful so one has to admit some of the slander was probably undeserved and borne out of 'jealousy'/'envy'. Would have been nice if just a wee bit of the billions (trillions?) of dollars were returned to the land/community from which his life of luxury began... for this ingratitude, he may partially deserve the "selfish" moniker.

mm said...

OH - yes, Huguette rhymes with baguette: pronounced /ewe GET/.


After a little thought, I'm nearly 100% sure they all have some kind of PDD. Her dad, having reputation of being "icy" (poor social skills) and being enormously successful (excellent skills in engineering/finance) showed key traits of one with Asperger's.

Always makes me giggle a wee bit when people (such as the Clark family) who have what seem to be poor social skills/acumen, then become one's who are most socially revered (e.g., einstein, mozart, tesla, and many more having traits in the "asperger's/autism spectrum").

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kate said...

Asperger's as a dx for Huguette? I don't think so!! She was known for being warm to her friends and close to her mother. THe hallmark of autism/Asperger's is a LACK of connection to significant others. She could connect---just seemed to be afraid of going out. SOunds like an anxiety disorder to me.

Cathy Sargent said...


There is no one size fits all for individuals on the spectrum for autistic spectrum aspergers. For more information check out Temple Grandin a veternarian. People on the spectrum have sensory processing differences that may interfere with simple tasks. They develop rituals and routines and are rigid with them. They often hoard. Sometimes their oddities isolates them from others. Sensory processing differences get in the way of every day life.