The Lookout

How Huguette Clark, reclusive copper heiress, spent her fortune

Zachary Roth
The Lookout

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Huguette Clark in 1930 (AP Photo)

It's amazing how fast you can run through $170 million these days, all without leaving your hospital room.

Court documents filed in a legal battle over the $400 million estate of Huguette Clark shed light on how the reclusive and eccentric mining heiress--who died in May at 104 after spending the last 22 years of her life in a hospital--spent her fortune. Clark's relatives--the descendants of her father, William Clark, a copper and banking tycoon and U.S. senator who was born before the Mexican War of 1840--are expected soon to challenge her will, which cut out her family entirely.

Among the revelations in the court documents, MSNBC reports:

• Since 1996, $170 million--or $1 million a month--was spent from Clark's personal account or from an account controlled by her lawyer and accountant, who held legal power of attorney during that period. Both the attorney, Wallace Bock, and the accountant, Irving Kamsler, are reportedly being investigated by law enforcement for their handling of the fortune.

• Au Nain Bleu, a doll and toy shop in Paris, was paid $2.5 million between 1997 and 2006. A friend of Clark's said her dolls were "her closest companions."

• Theriault's, an auctioneer of dolls, received $729,000 between 1997 and 2009.

• Clark paid a combined $60 million to the IRS and in New York state income taxes, since 1996.

• A charity that built a controversial security system for Jewish settlers in the West Bank received $1.85 million in donations. Bock's daughter lives in the settlement protected by the system.

• Bock's law firm received around $250,000 a year, and Kamsler around $90,000. If Clark's will is allowed to stand, both men would receive much more--more than $8 million--as beneficiaries and as executors of the estate.

• Clark's private nurse, Hadasah Peri, received a $5 million lump-sum payment, and around $131,000 a year.

• Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, where Clark lived even though for most of that time she wasn't sick, received about $4.9 million since 1997, or around $1,000 a day.

• Clark's closest friend, Suzanne Pierre, who served as her social secretary, received almost $12 million.

• Clark spent $3.75 million on taxes and co-op fees to maintain her unoccupied 15,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue apartment. She also paid more than $100,000 a year on property taxes for her New Canaan, Conn. country home.

Both Bock and Kamsler have declined to comment on their management of their accounts, but their representatives have said the men acted honorably in complying with Clark's wishes.

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