It is hard to imagine having so much wealth that you could have multiple mansions and allow them to sit empty and unused for decades. And yet, Huguette Clark did exactly that. She spent most of her life as a recluse in an apartment in New York City. Her apartment was large in comparison to most New York City apartments, yet beautiful designed. Even there, she only used a few rooms.
The story of how Huguette Clark came into her inheritance and where that money came from was equally fascinating. I had no idea the influence of her father, W. A. Clark, on the American West and the mining industry. Most of her money was inherited from her father's mining and investments. After her father, and then mother, died, Huguette retreated from life in the 1920's and lived reclusively with only a handful of close assistants. She handled most of her money by phone and people did what she asked. She developed several unique interests in doll collecting and artwork.
Towards the end of Huguette's life, even she could see that she would never spend all of her money. Though she came quite close. She gave hefty amounts to various people, which are now under dispute. And since she has passed away, her distant relatives have now shown an interest in her money and want their "fair" share.
This is a fascinating story of wealth generated during the industrial revolution spanning many decades. It raises many questions about wealth and personal responsibility, finance, and spending. Can you have so much money that you will never spend it all? Most of us will never know, but in the case of Huguette Clark we can see one possibility.
Book rating: 5 stars
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