Thursday, March 22, 2012

Obsessed With Huguette

From the moment I read the first article (of what has become a series, with a book in the works) by investigative reporter Bill Dedman, I have been obsessed with the story; actually with the lack of a story, about Huguette Clark (above in 1910), heiress to the Clark fortune; one of the largest ever amassed in the United States.

Born in 1906 to former US Senator William Andrews Clark (1839-1925) and his second wife Anna (1878-1963), she lived her life as a virtual recluse after her only marriage ended in 1930, until her death in 2011, just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday.  In the photo above, Huguette, on the right, is with her father and her older sister Andree, in 1917.  Anna Clark was rarely seen in public even while her husband was still living.   Andree would die just two years after this photo was taken, from meningitis.

Huguette attended Miss Spence's school, and is shown here seated second from the left in the front row, in a 1925 class picture.  She confined to her friends that her great wealth was "a menace to happiness".

She was also prominent as a socialite in the 1920's; she is pictured here on the far left at one of many of the parties she attended during that time.

What would cause a young woman with a life full of promise {she was both a musician and an artist, and exhibited her paintings at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC in 1929} to choose to live her life in such a solitary fashion?  (Above is an undated photo from her estate, appearing to have been taken sometime in the 1920's.)

This is a cartoon illustrating a day in the life of the heiress.  Did she withdraw from public life because of the unwanted, sometimes unkind, attention?  Was it because of the failure of her brief marriage?  She was married to William M. Grover, the son of a man who had worked for her father, in 1928. It was over by 1930; she claimed that it ended when he deserted her, he claimed that it was never consummated. 

The photo above was taken by a photographer who cornered her as she was about to embark on a cruise to Hawaii after her divorce was finalized, and is the last known photo to exist of her.  From 1930 until her mothers death in 1963, they were each other's constant companions, and very few others were allowed into their world.   It is rumored that they were very distrustful of outsiders, believing that people were only interested in their money.

From what I've read, it appears that mother and daughter were kind and well liked women who simply preferred to live a secluded life.  It's such an intriguing story, and I've read everything I can find on the subject, and poured over the pictures.  All of the pictures I've shared here, as well as most of the information, comes from the series of articles on by Bill Dedman.  I will share more of the story in a future post because it intrigues me so much, but I can't recommend these articles too highly; they're that good.  You can find a listing of all of them here.

Thanks for reading, dear friends!

xoxo, Anita


  1. Oooh, what a great mystery! This is very interesting, and I had never heard of her before this.
    I can easily understand the decision to live in seclusion. She may have started out as an introvert, ill-suited to a life of public appearances. With the added stress of noblesse oblige weighing on her, the introversion could have blossomed into social anxiety or various phobias.
    Wonderfully intriguing story - thank you for introducing it!

    1. What great insight; I think that you've hit on it! An ambivert myself, I 've seen how certain situations have led me to become more introverted for a time, and it's been commitments and obligations that have helped me revert to my more social self. If I had people whose job it was to deal with the world for me, maybe I would not have ventured back out myself.

  2. the stuff that good movies are made of!
    love it....I just love your blog:)

    1. It really is, Jennifer! I can't wait to read the book when it's published, and would love to see a good movie about her as well.
      And thank you for your visit and your lovely compliment.


Dear friends,
Thank you for taking the time to comment! ! I want this to be a space of free and open dialog, within the boundaries of respect and basic human kindness. Whether we are in agreement or not, all comments will be published so long as they meet that requirement.
xo, Anita