News and analysis
June 22, 2011

Reclusive Heiress Leaves $100-Million Estate to House Her Masterpieces

Huguette M. Clark, the 104-year-old heiress who died in May and whose fortune is estimated at $400-million, left instructions to donate a $100-million California mansion and grounds to establish a museum that will showcase her masterpieces, according to her will, which was filed in New York on Wednesday.

The Bellosguardo Foundation, which Ms. Clark named for her 24-acre estate in Santa Barbara, Calif., will be in charge of operating the mansion as a museum housing paintings by artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent.

Bellosguardo was valued at about $100-million last year by one interested buyer, who was turned down by Ms. Clark’s executors. 

Ms. Clark also left a 1907 painting by Claude Monet, one of the paintings in his “Water Lilies” series, to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington. The museum was the previous recipient of other important art works that belonged to Ms. Clark’s father, William A. Clark, a copper, timber, and railroad baron who also served as a U.S. Senator.

In addition, Ms. Clark left $1-million to Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York, where she had lived in isolation for many years. She also owned three apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue, in New York, where her art collection was housed.

The apartments are together estimated to  be worth about $100-million.

The collection will eventually be transfered to Bellosguardo, but it is unclear when her New York property will be sold. She also owned a $24-million mansion in New Canaan, Conn., that is currently on the market.

Of the remainder of her fortune, 60 percent will go to a person who cared for her in her later years, 25 percent will go to a goddaughter, and 15 percent will be directed toward the new foundation.