Okay, this is one of those true stories that seems more like a tale right from the pen of Charles Dickens: Mysterious reclusive 104-year-old heiress who surrounds herself with dolls owns sprawling mansions in which she’s never stepped.
It appears that Huguette Clark may possess some of each — a real-life enigma wrapped in a riddle and shrouded by mystery, with a nifty Connecticut connection.
I highly recommend reading the full MSNBC story — but in a nutshell (so to speak): The daughter of William A. Clark — a notorious Gilded Age entrepreneur, U.S. Senator (Montana) and copper baron — Huguette Clark, who hasn’t been seen in public for 80 years (yes, you read that correctly), is the sole heir of the massive Clark fortune. Apparently, aside from her lawyer and the few attendants who take care of her at the undisclosed New York hospital in which she is living, no one has even had contact with her in decades. It has been suggested that she may have Alzheimer’s disease, although at 104, she may be suffering from all sorts of age-related maladies.
She has no direct heirs, and from what the MSNBC reporter can gather, she lives almost-childlike in a rather insulated world, surrounded by a huge collection of French dolls. She apparently was fond of “The Flintstones” and harp music, and collected antiques, paintings and other rare items. She had almost no friends or acquaintances for most of her life outside her immediate family (her closest relative, her mother, died in 1963), and although she was married in 1928, it was for only two years and there were rumors that the union was never consummated.
Actually, she almost sounds like the character of Kathy Geiss from “30 Rock.”
From the MSNBC article:
Huguette’s Connecticut country house in New Canaan, Le Beau Château, is out of view at the end of a long driveway that curls through woods. There’s no intercom or bell, but one can rap on the air conditioning unit of a caretaker house by the gate. Tony Ruggiero, an 81-year-old former boxer, answers the knock but won’t open the gate — attorney Bock has given strict instructions. Huguette bought this “country house” in 1952 and added a bedroom suite with an artist’s loft — one can see the tiny paintbrushes carved into the handrails — but she never moved in. The 12,766-square-foot house with 52 acres is on the market for $24 million. The attorney and accountant keep the bills paid, including $161,000 a year for property taxes. Only one car is parked in the garages — Ruggiero’s 1987 Jaguar. Ruggiero doesn’t have answers, but he does have a question about the woman he has served for 21 years: Do you think she’s still alive?
Can you imagine taking care of an empty mansion for 21 years? Oh, and never meeting your boss? Nice work if you can get it.
Some specs of Le Beau Chateau: 22 rooms, nine bedrooms, nine baths, 11 fireplaces, a wine cellar, trunk room, elevator and walk-in vault. It also has marble and herringbone floors, and 13-foot ceilings.
Here’s the listing — it’s going for a bargain-rate of $24 million. Of course, since it has sat empty for over half a century, the kitchens may need updating. (You would think for $24 million that would be move-in ready, right?)
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to Huguette’s fortune and properties when she dies. Maybe someone will even get to enjoy the beauty of La Beau Chateau.