NEW YORK, June 23 (Reuters) - A reclusive mining heiress
who died last month in New York has left the bulk of her $400
million fortune to an art charity and $1 million to her legal
and financial advisors, according to a copy of her will filed
on Wednesday in New York Surrogate's Court.
The subject of Huguette Clark's legacy has already drawn
legal scrutiny and a reported criminal investigation into how
her lawyer and accountant managed her estate.
Clark, who died at 104 with no close family, inherited her
fortune from her father William Clark, a copper baron and
one-time U.S. Senator from Montana. When she died, Clark owned
three sprawling homes - a 42-bedroom apartment on Fifth Avenue
in New York, a 52-acre Connecticut estate, and a seaside
mansion in Santa Barbara, California. Although the properties
were unoccupied for decades after Clark moved into a hospital,
she paid for their upkeep, according to a statement by the
lawyer for her estate. The homes in New York and Connecticut
will be sold.
Clark's will directs her executors to establish the
Bellosguardo Foundation in Santa Barbara to promote the arts.
Housed in her oceanfront mansion, the foundation will display
Clark's art collection, including masterworks by Renoir, John
Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase. The foundation will
also inherit Clark's rare book collection and musical
instruments. One exception is an original painting from Claude
Monet's "Water Lillies" series, earmarked for the Corcoran
Gallery of Art in Washington.
The seven-page will leaves $1 million for Beth Israel
Hospital where Clark lived since the 1990s. It also provides
gifts for a small circle of people who helped Clark in her
final years, including her longtime nurse, physician,
goddaughter and caretakers of her properties. Clark's nurse
also stands to receive a large collection of dolls, many of
them antique, accompanied by doll houses and clothing.
Two other beneficiaries are Clark's personal attorney,
William Bock, and her accountant, Irving Kamsler, at $500,000 a
piece. Both Bock and Kamsler are designated to serve as
executors of the will as well as directors of the art
foundation. Bock drafted the will for Clark in 2005 when she
The gifts to Bock and Kamsler are noteworthy, given that
New York's ethics rules generally bar lawyers from including
themselves as beneficiaries when drafting a client's will. John
Dadakis, who represents Clark's estate, said that such conduct
is permissible if the lawyer files a sworn statement with the
court to explain why the gift is reasonable. Bock has done so,
Dadakis said, in which he explained his 15 years of service to
Last August, the Manhattan District Attorney's Elder Abuse
Unit launched an investigation into Bock and Kamsler's handling
of Clark's finances, according to media reports. That
investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed, the
New York Times reports, citing people briefed on the case.
The probe came after msnbc.com ran a series of
investigative reports on Clark's life in which distant
relatives described Bock and Kamsler's alleged efforts to
isolate Clark and prevent family members from visiting her at
In September, two of Clark's nieces and a nephew filed a
petition for guardianship of their aunt in New York State
Supreme Court. They cited the media reports to argue that Bock
and Kamsler were taking advantage of their allegedly frail and
mentally impaired aunt.
Bock dismissed the allegations as "unfounded" in a court
filing, calling the relatives "virtual strangers" that Clark
had deliberately shunned for decades. The judge rejected the
relatives' petition, finding it largely based on hearsay and
"speculative assertions of incapacity."
Robert Anello, an attorney for Bock, said his client "has
always acted consistent with Ms. Clark's wishes, including her
strong desire for privacy."
Kamsler could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the will filed on Wednesday, Clark explicitly states
that she has intentionally excluded her family from her estate,
"having had minimal contacts with them over the years." The
document describes the named beneficiaries as the "true objects
of my bounty."
Dadakis, who was contacted by the executors to represent
Clark's estate, expressed confidence that the will would
survive any potential challenges to Clark's competency. "We're
very comfortable she knew the extent of her assets, the extent
of her family and the objects of her bounty," Dadakis said.
"She was a very strong-willed individual."
(Reporting by Terry Baynes)