Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
By Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Her father, W. A. Clark, was born in a log cabin, discovered incredible riches in copper in Montana territory after the Civil War, founded Las Vegas, and was pushed out of the U.S. Senate for bribery. His daughter, Huguette, grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a world-renowned Stradivarius violin, and a vast collection of antique dolls with clothes custom-designed by Dior. But wanting more than treasures, she lived out her last twenty years in a simple hospital room, devoting her wealth to her art and buying gifts for friends and strangers.
About the Authors
Bill Dedman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist who introduced the public to heiress Huguette Clark and her empty mansions through his compelling series of narratives for NBC, which became the most popular feature in the history of its news website, topping 110 million page views. Bill received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting while writing for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among his other awards are the Investigative Reporters and Editors award, the Worth Bingham Prize for national investigative reporting, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.
Paul Clark Newell, Jr. is a cousin of Huguette Clark and has researched the Clark family history for twenty years. Paul shared many conversations with Huguette about her life and family. He received a rare private tour of Bellosguardo, her mysterious estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara.
Voigt House Tours
Monday, June 16, 2014, 7:00 pm
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 7:00 pm
Voigt House – 115 College Ave SE
Join us on a tour of Grand Rapids’ very own empty mansion. The Voigt House Victorian Museum, a property of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, is a rare time capsule of the late Victorian period. The tour will show what life was like for a prominent local family over one hundred years ago. The three-story brick mansion which is situated in Heritage Hill, was completed in 1896 and occupied by members of the Voigt family for 76 years. The home remains intact with original family furnishings. Tours are for adults only and registration is required. Visit www.grpl.org/register to sign up.
Note: due to road construction in the area, please allow yourself extra time for parking. Limited parking is available at Cherry Street Health Services – 550 Cherry SE.
Collecting Jewelry: A Passionate Hobby
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 10:00 am
Main Library – 111 Library St NE
Chuck Schoenknecht, antiques appraiser and avid collector, will lead a tour of vintage jewelry including rhinestones, amber, and pearls. Chuck will talk about his own vintage jewelry collection, what to look for when collecting, and the value of vintage jewelry in general. Whether you are already a collector or just curious about vintage jewelry, you will be sure to find this presentation a gem.
Splendor by the Sea: Newport, Rhode Island During the Gilded Age
Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library St NE
With its spectacular natural scenery, pristine beaches, and gentle ocean breezes, Newport, RI, was the summer playground for many of America’s elite families, and by 1880, it had earned the title “Queen of Resorts.” Fashionable summer colonists including the Vanderbilts, Belmonts, and Astors, hired some of the nation’s leading architects, including Richard Morris Hunt, Richard Upjohn, and McKim, Mead & White, to design their summer “cottages” along Newport’s shore. These houses were the backdrops for lavish entertainment—debutante balls, weddings, and grand celebrations in honor of royalty. Through the lens of Newport’s most iconic buildings, Caitlyn Emery, Research and Interpretation Coordinator at The Preservation Society of Newport County, will examine some of the city’s most legendary personalities.
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Fortune’s Children: the Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II
Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle by Anthony Russell
The Big Spenders by Lucius Morris Beebe
Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten by Lady Pamela Hicks
To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace