Estate of Huguette Clark, Famous Reclusive Heiress, Loses $95M Suit Against Beth Israel

Posted On Tue, August 25, 2015 By

Posted On Tue, August 25, 2015 By In History, Policy

In her middle years, Clark liked to take “self portraits” of herself at home; here, in her Fifth Avenue apartment. Photo: Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com

Copper heiress Huguette Clark did not live the life of luxury like so many other wealthy New Yorkers in her shoes. The famously reclusive figure died in 2011 at the age of 104, but instead of spending her last 20 years in her palatial, Gilded-Age co-op at 907 Fifth Avenue (which was filled to the brim with her doll, dollhouse, and art collections), she decided to live in a tiny hospital room at Beth Israel. Clark admitted herself to the hospital in 1991 for operable skin cancer, but then refused to leave.

According to Gothamist, her estate, “made up of nineteen of Huguette’s distant relatives, a private foundation in Huguette’s name, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.,” didn’t buy the hospital’s story and sued Beth Israel in 2013 for $95 million. The suit claimed the hospital spent millions of dollars on unnecessary medical care and by forming “fake friendships” with the heiress who was known for writing out checks on a whim to people she just met. However, last week, Manhattan Surrogate Court Justice Nora Anderson ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on the case.

Huguette Clark, Empty Mansions, Bill Dedman, Gilded Age, Heiress, Connecticut, 907 Fifth Avenue, dollhouse, doll collection, 1930s, memorabilia
A bedroom at 907 Fifith Avenue. Photo: Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com

Huguette Clark, Empty Mansions, Bill Dedman, Gilded Age, Heiress, Connecticut, 907 Fifth Avenue, dollhouse, doll collection
Collection of doll furniture in Huguette Clark’s apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue. Photo: Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com

The biggest blow from the court’s decision comes to Clark’s 19 relatives, who would’ve received millions had the ruling gone the other way. This isn’t anything new for them. All blood relatives were completely left out of her will, but after a 2013 suit, $34.5 million of her $300 million fortune was split among 20 distant family members. About the most recent occurrence, her great-grandnephew Ian Clark Devine said, “We are hopeful that Beth Israel Medical Center . . . will ultimately answer for its prolonged and rampant financial exploitation of Huguette Clark.”

[Via Gothamist via NYP]

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