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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 3:54 pm | Fair 73º


More Huguette Clark Estate Items Up for Auction

Items that belonged to the late owner of the Bellosguardo estate in Santa Barbara include artwork she collected and painted herself


More treasures from heiress Huguette Clark’s estate are up for auction, including artwork she collected and painted herself.

A December auction by Millea Bros. in New Jersey includes 96 Huguette Clark estate items that were acquired from Christie’s, which in 2014 sold items from Clark’s New York property for $8.5 million.

Clark, who died in 2011 at age 104, was the daughter of William Clark, a copper tycoon and senator who made his fortune in mining, banking and railroads.

When Huguette Clark died with a $300 million fortune, there was a court battle over her wills, and many items in her family’s collections were sold to fund the settlement.       

The Clark family’s Bellosguardo estate, at 1407 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, was gifted to a nonprofit foundation created to foster the arts, as was Clark’s doll collection and $4.5 million in cash.

The future of the oceanfront property is still in limbo, and is currently managed by the New York County Public Administrator’s Office while the Internal Revenue Service decides whether to waive unpaid gift tax penalties against Clark.

Millea Bros.’ auction items include fine art, furniture, musical instruments and home décor items such as mirrors and wall sconces. The three-day auction starts Dec. 7 and more information can be found online here.

Christie’s had already collected it all, and most of the items were in storage – some of them “were clearly in storage for decades,” said David Halpern of Millea Bros.  

“Through them we acquired all of the estate that they weren’t going to take,” he said.

Essentially, these items are left over from the Christie’s collection and auction process, and were sold to facilitate the clearing out and sale of Clark family properties, Halpern said.

The Christie’s auction benefitted the Clark estate and arts foundation, but this auction’s proceeds don’t, since it is a private consignment.

This painting, “Portrait of a Woman in Artist’s Studio,” is possibly a self-portrait of Huguette Clark. No signature is on it and it is possibly the work of Clark’s favorite portrait painter, Tadeusz Styka, according to Millea Bros. Click to view larger
This painting, “Portrait of a Woman in Artist’s Studio,” is possibly a self-portrait of Huguette Clark. No signature is on it and it is possibly the work of Clark’s favorite portrait painter, Tadeusz Styka, according to Millea Bros.  (Millea Bros. photo)

Millea Bros. can’t share what private party owns the items.

“What makes her such an interesting character is how related to the arts she was,” Halpern said of Clark.

Clark was an artist herself, and collected rare musical instruments and works of art. She also had a collection of photography equipment, which may come up in a future auction, according to Millea Bros.

Some of the items, including a Steinway piano and crystal wall sconces, appear to be identical to items seen in 1940s pictures of Bellosguardo, Halpern noted. 

There are photos of the property on the website for Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, written by investigative reporter Bill Dedman.

Specifically, an ornate pair of Caldwell crystal sconces appear to be hanging on the wall of the Bellosguardo music room. The room also had a Steinway piano that appears to be the same make and model as one in the Millea Bros. auction, Halpern said.

A watercolor picture of Bellosguardo, the Clark estate in Santa Barbara, by Martyn Murphy is one of the items for sale in the Millea Bros. auction. Click to view larger
A watercolor picture of Bellosguardo, the Clark estate in Santa Barbara, by Martyn Murphy is one of the items for sale in the Millea Bros. auction.  (Millea Bros. photo)

Multiple estates may have been furnished with similar or identical items, he noted.

However, Millea Bros. has little information about where the items came from originally, since it acquired them from Christie’s. Nothing was differentiated to note whether it was from the New York, Connecticut or California estates, Halpern said.

In its auction, Christie’s said the items being sold were from the New York apartments on Fifth Avenue.

A John Singer Sargent painting, titled “Girl Fishing,” got the highest price of $4.3 million at the Christie’s auction, and vintage photos show the painting hanging in a Bellosguardo bedroom.

Visitors to Bellosguardo before and after Clark’s death have said it looked ready to occupy at a moment’s notice, with custom furniture covers and maintained gardens.

Close family members reportedly had not visited the property since the 1950s.

The Bellosguardo Foundation and board was formed in 2014, but it is still waiting on an IRS decision and a transfer of assets. It’s possible more Clark estate assets, including Bellosguardo itself, would have to be sold to cover the costs of the court settlement.

Financial records show the foundation is soliciting donors and paying executive director Jeremy Lindaman a generous salary with the estate’s money — $80,000 in 2015, the most recent year for which the nonprofit filed documents with the IRS.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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