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.

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