Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

California house, a palace on a cliff by the Pacific, and her father’s house, the largest in New York City, with a tower and 121 rooms, including one adorned with gold. Taking all this in, the neurologist wasn’t exactly sure how much to credit this tale of

CRICKET A poor little cricket Hidden in the flowery grass, Observes a butterfly Fluttering in the meadow. The winged insect shines with the liveliest colors: Azure, purple, and gold glitter on his wings; Young, handsome, foppish, he hastens from flower to flower, Taking from the best ones. Ah! says the cricket, how his lot and mine Are dissimilar! Lady Nature For him did everything, and for me nothing. I have no talent, even less beauty; No one takes notice of me, they know me not here below; Might as well not exist. As he was speaking, in the meadow Arrives a troop of children. Immediately they are running After this butterfly, for which they all have a longing. Hats, handkerchiefs, caps serve to catch him. The insect in vain tries to escape. He becomes soon their conquest. One seizes him by the wing, another by the body; A third arrives, and takes him by the head. It should not be so much effort To tear to pieces the poor creature. Oh! Oh! says the cricket, I am no more sorry; It costs too dear to shine in this world. How much I am going to love my deep retreat! To live happily, live hidden.

cultivate imagination, which means to develop your power of sympathy, and I entreat you to decide thoughtfully what makes a human being great in his time and in his station. The

Eccentricity is not a psychiatric disorder.

Huguette had a fairy-tale checkbook, one that was refilled whenever it ran out of magic beans.

Huguette was a formidable personality who lived life as she wanted, always on her own terms.

In her own way, she found what life may be, a life of integrity.

Huguette was a quiet woman in a noisy time.

I beg you to cultivate imagination, which means to develop your power of sympathy, and I entreat you to decide thoughtfully what makes a human being great in his time and in his station. The faculty of imagination is often lightly spoken of as of no real importance, often decried as mischievous, as in some ways the antithesis of practical sense, and yet it ranks with reason and conscience as one of the supreme characteristics by which man is distinguished from all other animals.… Sympathy, the great bond between human beings, is largely dependent on imagination—that is, upon the power of realizing the feelings and the circumstances of others so as to enable us to feel with and for them.

In early 1864, he became a Mason, joining the ancient fraternal organization’s lodge in Virginia City, where the Masonic leader was also the president of the first group of Vigilantes. As the state lodge’s longtime secretary, Cornelius Hedges, told it, “We will not say that all the Vigilantes were Masons, but we would not go astray to say that all Masons were Vigilantes.

I never bought a man who wasn't for sale.
-W.A. Clark, ascribed

interest in what is happening

In the rest of the story, Sleeping Beauty and the prince marry and have children. An ogress demands that the children and princess be cooked and served to her, though they are saved. Disney’s animated films also left out that part, agreeing with Huguette’s editing.

million, and 30 percent of the

One of W.A.'s descendants described the mixed blessing of inherited wealth: "I think having such wealth can lead some people to have a lack of self-worth because of not having developed a lucrative career of their own or even having investigated their own potential. Having an overabundance of wealth can make people insecure around others who have far less than they do, since the former might wonder if potential partners or even friends are 'only' after them for their money. Well-meaning people of excessive wealth can feel anxious about the lack of perfection of charities they support, and about the fact that even as willing patrons they are powerless to obliterate suffering--all the while knowing that any small amount of money that they might spend on themselves is still enough to change or even save some lives. Wealth can lead to guilt over the unfairness of people working endlessly for them who have never been included fully into the family. In sum, having immense wealth can lead one to feel isolated and to have a false sense of being special." pg 328

ourselves

Pour vivre heureux, vivons cache. To live happily, live hidden.

She desired not only the dolls and dollhouses but also the accessories that gave the appearance of daily life. For a breakfast scene, she cabled Au Nain Bleu asking for tiny French breads: croissants, brioches, madeleines, mille-feuilles, and turnovers. But she wasn't done. In a May 7,1956, cable to store, she wrote:
For the lovely pastry shop please send
the following: waffles, babas,
tartelettes, crepes, tartines, palm-
iers, galettes, cups of milk, tea and
coffee with milk, small butter jars,
fake jam and honey, small boxes of
chocolate, candies and candied fruits,
and small forks. Thank you.

So despite the Orthodox prohibition against working on Saturday, and despite having three school-age children, for many years Hadassah worked for Huguette from eight A.M. to eight P.M., twelve hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. She was up and out of the house before her children left for school and home close to bedtime. It would be several years before she took a day off. Hadassah was paid $30 an hour, $2,520 a week, $131,040 a year, but she described her self-sacrifice for Huguette as extreme. “I give my life to Madame,” Hadassah said.

Sympathy, the great bond between human beings, is largely dependent on imagination—that is, upon the power of realizing the feelings and the circumstances of others so as to enable us to feel with and for them.

The faculty of imagination is often lightly spoken of as of no real importance, often decried as mischievous, as in some ways the antithesis of practical sense, and yet it ranks with reason and conscience as one of the supreme characteristics by which man is distinguished from

The house had another special feature, one that was required for an industrialist in that era. On the second floor, hidden in the second bedroom, known as the family bedroom, was a closet that served as a panic room. This closet had a call box that could be used to alert the police, the fire department, or the hospital. This was no extravagance: Wealthy men received threats of all kinds. In 1889, for example, W.A. received a letter threatening his life if he did not pay the writer $400,000. He didn’t pay, but he was prepared for trouble if it arrived.

The most essential elements of success in life are a purpose, increasing industry, temperate habits, scrupulous regard for one's word... courteous manners, a generous regard for the rights of others, and above all, integrity which admits of no qualification or variation.
-W.A. Clark

The proud little man was accompanied by three discreet touches of male vanity: a gold watch chain hanging from his dapper white waistcoat, a polka-dotted silk cravat held tightly to his high collar by a pearl stickpin, and his thirty-six-year-old wife.

This may be the only example in history of an individual financing an entire railroad of significance out of his own pocket.

Though the platitude—money can’t buy happiness—may be comforting to those who are less than well heeled, great wealth doesn’t ensure sadness either.

True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do.

W.A. MOVED from rich to superrich after representing Montana at the 1885 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans.

W.A. supported fair wages, even opposing wage reductions when copper prices fell, and as a result he didn’t suffer from strikes. He also offered model healthcare for workers, and when Daly opposed a law requiring safety cages in the mines, Clark supported it—even if only for political advantage. He also supported voting rights for women.

WE CAME TO THIS STORY by separate paths, one of us by accident and one by birth.

You could say that they had already gotten their share of the copper mining fortune of W.A. Clark. The millions had been divided equally among his five surviving children: Huguette and her four half-siblings from his first marriage. Each of W.A.'s five children who lived to adulthood had received one-fifth of his estate after his death in 1925 equal shares for May, Katherine, Charlie, Will, and Huguette. Huguette got her allowance for a couple of years, and eventually got something extra, inheriting Bellosguardo and the jewels and cash that her mother received from her prenup. But W.A.'s plan, it seemed, was to treat each of his children equally.