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On 23 May, I brought your attention to the distribution of the estate belonging to the American tycoon Wellington Burt, 92 years after his death.  Follow this link to read my blog: http://blog.haytarnwills.co.uk/2011/05/estate-distributed-92-years-after-will.html
This week comes news of the distribution of the estate belonging to 104-year-old Filipino-born Huguette Clark. It is reported that Huguette’s estate amounted to $400 million and despite her fortune; she spent 70 years as a recluse in her extensive New York mansion.  The mansion is reportedly the largest on New York‘s Fifth Avenue.  In addition to its 42 rooms covering 15,000 square feet, it has a 30-foot library, a 40-foot drawing room and the vast living room has stunning views over Central Park. It is intriguing to think what her thoughts might have been as she observed the passing of New York‘s history from her window.
Huguette also owned substantial properties worth millions in California and Connecticut, but they remained uninhabited and unvisited for more than fifty years.
She inherited her wealth in 1925 from her father, William Andrews Clark, who was a mining tycoon and US Senator.  He died when Huguette was 21 leaving her the equivalent of $3.6 billion at today’s values.
Despite her eligibility, Huguette was married for only two years and she did not have any children.  She remained reclusive for most of her life and the latest photograph of her is over 80 years old.
She is buried in the family’s mausoleum in New York. There were only a handful of people present because the remaining members of her family, if any, were banned.
The beneficiary who received the largest single share of her estate was 60-year-old nurse Hadassah Peri. Mrs Peri was Huguette’s private nurse for 20 years and cared for her virtually everyday. She said ‘I knew Huguette as a kind and generous person with whom I shared many wonderful moments and whom I loved very much’.  In 1990, a New York nursing agency randomly assigned Mrs Peri’s employment to Huguette and she soon became her trusted and loyal carer.  Mrs Peri is married to a retired cab driver.  She states she will spend her inheritance on making the world a better place for people by donating a substantial portion of the gift to charity.
The remainder of Huguette’s estate, after tax, amounted to $275 million.  Her Will requests the setting up of the Bellosguardo Art Foundation at her 24-acre Santa Barbara estate to house rare pieces of art and musical instruments.
Huguette left nothing to her relatives, probably because they were too remote; a grand-half-nephew and two grand-half-nieces are the only reported survivors of the Clark family.  However, it would not be surprising if they challenged the Will because of the substantial amount involved and because the Huguette’s finances are already being investigated.  She left $500,000 to her lawyer and the same amount to her accountant.  This might seem very generous, but the accountant is also a registered sex offender.
No doubt, the vultures will start circling over the Will, eyeing up the slightest flaw in her testament.