Dimensions: 496 pages, 9.53 × 6.64 × 1.32 in
Published: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0345534522
ISBN - 13: 9780345534521
Read from the Book
From day one at Doctors Hospital, Huguette had private nurses twenty-four hours a day. The nurse on the day shift, assigned randomly to Huguette in the spring of 1991, was Hadassah Peri. She would work for her “Madame” for twenty years, becoming, it seems probable, the wealthiest registered nurse in the world. Doctors Hospital was not the place that a New Yorker with a lifethreatening illness normally would select. It was better known as a fashionable treatment center for the well-to-do, a society hospital, a great place for a face-lift or for drying out. Michael Jackson had been a patient, as had Marilyn Monroe, James Thurber, Clare Boothe Luce, and Eugene O’Neill. The fourteen-story brick structure on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, between Eighty-Seventh and Eighty-Eighth streets by a bend in the East River, gave the impression of being an apartment building or hotel, with a hair salon offering private appointments in patient rooms and a comfortable dining room where patients could order from the wine list if the doctor allowed. When it opened in 1929, it had no wards and no interns, allowed no charity care, and included hotel accommodations for family members of patients. In its early days, it was often used as a long-term residential hotel or spa, and finally in the 1970s it added modern coronary units and intensive care. Huguette checked in to a room on the eleventh floor with a lovely view down to a city park and Gracie Mansion, the Fe
From the Publisher
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Janet Maslin, The New York Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
When Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. 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. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?
Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world.
Huguette was the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark, nearly as rich as Rockefeller in his day, a controversial senator, railroad builder, and founder of Las Vegas. She 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, a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she devoted her wealth to buying gifts for friends and strangers alike, to quietly pursuing her own work as an artist, and to guarding the privacy she valued above all else.
The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.
Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions is an enthralling story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms.
Praise for Empty Mansions
“An amazing story of profligate wealth . . . an outsized tale of rags-to-riches prosperity.”—The New York Times
“An evocative and rollicking read, part social history, part hothouse mystery, part grand guignol.”—The Daily Beast
“Fascinating . . . [a] haunting true-life tale.”—People
“One of those incredible stories that you didn’t even know existed. It filled a void.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
“Thrilling . . . deliciously scandalous.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Bill Dedman 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. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting while writing for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.
Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of Huguette Clark, has researched the Clark family history for twenty years, sharing 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.
“An amazing story of profligate wealth . . . an outsized tale of rags-to-riches prosperity.” — The New York Times “A fascinating investigation into the haunting true-life tale of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark.” — People “An exhaustively researched, well-written account . . . a blood-boiling expose [that] will make you angry and will make you sad.” — The Seattle Times “An evocative and rollicking read, part social history, part hothouse mystery, part grand guignol .” — The Daily Beast “A childlike, self-exiled eccentric, [Huguette Clark] is the sort of of subject susceptible to a biography of broad strokes, which makes Empty Mansions, the first full-length account of her life, impressive for its delicacy and depth.” — Town & Country “One of those incredible stories that you didn’t even know existed. It filled a void.” —Jon Stewart, The Daily Show “So well written . . . such a gripping, gripping story.” —Bill Goldstein, NBC 4 New York “A compelling account of what happened to the Clark family and its fortune . . . a tremendous feat.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch “A fascinating story.” — Today “Meticulous and absorbing.” — Bloomberg Businessweek “Brilliantly researched, tough-minded, and fair . . . a fascinating read.” &mdash