, the reclusive heiress who had a 42-room Manhattan apartment but spent the last decades of her life as a "princess" at Beth Israel Hospital, is back in the news. Clark died in 2011, but her family—made up of grandnephews, grandnieces, great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces—contends that they deserve a piece of her vast fortune (even though they never visited her) and may be going to trial over it.
The NY Times has a great long feature about the reclusive Clark and the battle for her money:
In 2005, Mrs. Clark executed two wills, just six weeks apart. The first, signed in March, would have given virtually all of her fortune, including possession of her Santa Barbara, Calif., oceanfront estate, Bellosguardo, to members of her family. The second, signed in April, cut them out with a nasty Dickensian flourish: “I intentionally make no provision in this my Last Will Testament for any members of my family, whether on my paternal or maternal side, having had minimal contacts with them over the years. The persons and institution named herein as beneficiaries of my Estate are the true objects of my bounty.”
In that version, the lion’s share of the estate — the lavish Bellosguardo, along with furnishings, musical instruments, books and art — would be turned into a foundation for the arts. There would be gifts to, among others, her goddaughter; her primary doctor, Henry Singman; her accountant, Irving Kamsler; her lawyer, Wallace Bock; and Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, where she lived for the last 20 years of her life. Mrs. Clark’s longtime nurse, Hadassah Peri, would receive her rare doll collection and 60 percent of whatever was left — potentially millions — after the other bequests were made. (Mrs. Peri also received more than $31 million in property, cash and gifts outside the will, according to court papers.)
The relatives, who admittedly hadn't visited her, accuse Clark's apparently beneficiaries of cloistering her, but Clark's personal assistant, Christopher Sattler, who received $500,000 in the second will, said, "The time in the hospital actually resocialized Mrs. Clark — she became less of a recluse. Not by much, but she enjoyed the traffic of humanity for the first time in 50 years." According to the Times, at Clark's request, "Mr. Sattler would set up her dolls — vintage Barbies that he said came from Au Nain Bleu in Paris, or Jumeaux, which are expensive bisque dolls — and photograph them in her apartment. Then he would bring the pictures to her in the hospital."
The two sides are in settlement talks, but the dispute could go to trial.