Six months after the death of heiress Huguette Clark, the legal battle continues over the $400 million fortune she left — including a 24-acre estate called Bellosguardo overlooking Santa Barbara’s East Beach.
Clark was the daughter of William Clark, a copper tycoon and Idaho senator at the turn of the last century who made his fortune from copper mining, banks and railroads. At the time of his death in 1925, he was considered one of America’s richest men.
In May, Clark died in New York City just before her 105th birthday. Increasingly reclusive over the last decades of her life, she lived at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York for more than 20 years even as her Santa Barbara estate was said to be maintained at the ready for her arrival at any time. According to the Los Angeles Times, she had not visited the property in more than 50 years.
Clark’s attorney, Wally Bock, and accountant Irving Kamsler are being investigated in relation to the handling of her finances, and courts in New York have ordered them to catalog her expenses during the 15 years that they held power of attorney, msnbc.com reported this week.
According to msnbc.com, records show $126.3 million spent by the two men from Clark’s accounts and another $43.3 million transferred into her personal account. That total includes $3 million spent on dolls, stipends to staff members, and huge amounts of income and property taxes and fees, the Web site reported.
In addition to the $100 million Bellosguardo — which cost $8 million in operating fees from 1997 to 2011, according to msnbc.com — Clark owned a mansion in New Canaan, Conn., and another on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has reported that living family members, descendants from William Clark’s first marriage, were cut out of Clark’s will and they questioned the influence of Bock and Kamsler over her in her later years.
Bock and Kamsler have denied any wrongdoing.
According to Clark’s last will and testament, Bellosguardo, 1407 E. Cabrillo Blvd., was to become a permanent museum to house her collections of art, rare books and musical instruments and would be operated by a foundation of the same name. (Scroll down the page for a copy of Clark’s will, which was signed April 19, 2005, when she was 98.)
“The property includes a grand garden and a 21,000-square-foot mansion completed in 1933 — the original residence was torn down during the height of the Depression, in part to provide work for Santa Barbara’s unemployed laborers,” Holland & Knight, the law firm that filed her will in New York, said in a statement.
“The multiwinged residence, designed by legendary Biltmore Hotel architect Reginald Johnson, has been unoccupied for more than a half-century, but Mrs. Clark insisted that the manicured grounds and interior be meticulously maintained throughout her life. The Santa Barbara estate is now estimated to be worth $100 million.”
In 1930, Clark had donated land at the foot of her estate for the 42-acre Andree Clark Bird Refuge, which was named after an older sister who died of meningitis in 1919.
The Bellosguardo Foundation will promote the arts, a passion of Clark’s, and her art-filled New York City apartments also will be given to the foundation, her will stipulates. One art piece, a Claude Monet painting from his “Water Lilies” series, will be given to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where her father donated his collection.
According to msnbc.com, Clark’s properties are protected by the court until the investigation of her estate is resolved.