Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Title: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Book Condition: Used - Like New
Jacket Condition: Very Good
Publisher: Ballantine Books September 2013
0345534522 / 9780345534521
Seller ID: 167071
Minor edgewear to jacket, book itself in New condition, with pristine text.
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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 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"