The Fate of Huguette Clark's Fortune

The Fate of Huguette Clark's Fortune

The intensely reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark died Tuesday at the age of 104. Now, the fate of her estimated $500,000,000 fortune she inherited from her copper mining magnate father, W.A. Clark will have to be determined. And for someone who has dedicated the last two decades of her life to keeping people away from her, that's going to be very, very difficult. She divorced in 1930 and never remarried. After her mother Anna died in 1963, she cut herself off from the world, shutting herself into the family's massive apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue, in New York. The family owns the entire eighth floor and half of the twelfth--42 rooms in all. There's also a beach house in Santa Barbara that she hasn't visited since the 1950s and a country house in New Canaan, Conn., currently for sale for $23 million.

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All of Clark's affairs are handled by her lawyer, Wallace Bock and her accountant, Irving Kamsler, who themselves are the object of some suspicion. A series of reports on MSNBC last year led to an investigation, still underway, into whether the pair have been inappropriately taking advantage of their positions of power over Clark's fortunes. Kamsler has been convicted of distributing indecent material to 13 and 15-year-old girls in an AOL chatroom. According to MSNBC's Bill Dedman, she has a will, but who could be slated to get the three houses and mountains of cash? Let's speculate:

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Her remaining relatives? Well, the family's always a good bet when playing this guessing game, but in this case, maybe not so much. Apparently the cousins, nieces, and nephews who last year petitioned a court to appoint her a guardian have been kept away from her for years. They say Bock and Kamsler have kept them at bay so that the pair could more thoroughly control Clark's fortunes.

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A charity? Clark's charitable donations have already lead to some scrutiny of Bock. Dedman reported on MSNBC that, shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, "he had solicited a donation from Clark of more than $1.5 million, which she gave to a West Bank community where his daughter is a settler." Such a solicitation is prohibited under New York ethics rules, so a court could conceivably intervene, but it would be hard to prove a charitable donation was made under coersion. Clark doesn't seem to be much of a philanthropist. One passion Clark had, however, was for doll collecting. According to ABC she would have Bock bid on dolls in her stead at auctions. A donation of money and perhaps her doll collection to a museum such as the New York Toy Museum or the Princeton Doll and Toy Museum doesn't seem out of character at all.

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Her lawyer or accountant themselves? It seems plausible that Bock or Kamsler may be beneficiaries in Clark's will. The lawyer and accountant have been two of a very small handful of people Clark has had dealings with for the past 20 years or so, and if her relatives are to be believed, they are unscrupulous in taking advantage of her trust and old age. Bock and Kamsler themselves have stated that they have only ever acted according to Clark's wishes. The dispute is currently in court.

Her private nurse(s)? Not much has been made of Clark's private nursing staff, but she did reportedly have one. During the last few years of her life, which she spent in a Manhattan hospital room, her nurses were the only people to see her. While they don't get much of a mention in the reporting on her, she could easily have developed a relationship with one in private. It's worth pointing out that she did once give $10 million to her close friend and social secretary, Suzanne Pierre, who died this spring.