She lived to be 104, and left behind mansions she never lived in and a $300 million fortune relatives are now fighting over. It’s quite a story, one that fascinates anyone who hears about it. And this month at Ventfort Hall, you will have a chance to learn the story that’s behind behind the story of the rich and reclusive Huguette Clark who lived the gilded life in a gilded cage of her own making.
That’s because investigative reporter Bill Dedman of NBC News, was able to sniff out the real facts when he went in search of, and discovered, the fascinating, almost unbelievable details.
So spicy is the tale that it that it will appear in hardcover this month, in a book he titles “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.”
Dedman will unravel the story at a special Tea and Talk called “The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark” at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum on Saturday, September 28, at 4:00 pm. The speaker will be on hand to autograph copies of the new book. Tickets for the Dedman Tea and Talk are $18 for advance reservations and members and $23 at the door on September 28. Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited. For information or reservations call Ventfort Hall at 413-637-3206 or click on to email@example.com. The historic mansion is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox.
More about Huguette Clark
Central to the haunting story is Huguette Clark, heiress to $300 million fortune created by her father, William A. Clark, a U.S. senator, copper-mine owner and railroad baron.
She grew up in a massive, multi-story mansion at 907 Fifth Avenue in New York City, later owning a 42-room apartment and estates in California and Connecticut. Huguette lived her last 20 years, childlike and reclusive, in a hospital room at Beth Israel Medical Center, until her death in 2011 at the age of 104.
A legal court battle over Huguette’s will, which Dedman will cover when it is scheduled to start on September 17, involves 19 distant relatives, who had little to do with her, pitted against the childless woman’s caretakers, including her lawyer, accountant and nurse.
They are accused of talking the heiress out of large sums of money and stand to inherit millions more.
More about Bill Dedman and the book’s evolution
Reporter Dedman introduced the public to Huguette and her empty mansions through his compelling series of narratives for NBC, (a snippet of which is in the latter half of the clip above) which became the most popular feature in the history of the news website, topping 110 million page views.
He has written for NBCNews.com about uninspected bridges, problems with firefighter safety equipment, the Obama administration’s visitor logs and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo among other subjects.
Dedman received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for “The Color of Money,” articles covering discrimination by mortgage lenders in middle-income neighborhoods. He has also written for major American newspapers.
The book is co-written with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Newell has researched the Clark family history for 20 years, sharing many conversations with Huguette about her life and family.