Heiress Huguette Clark's will leaves $1 million to advisers

A last will and testament for the reclusive copper heiress Huguette M. Clark was filed Wednesday afternoon in Surrogate's Court in New York City, leaving most of her $400 million fortune to charity — and $1 million to her financial advisers even as a criminal investigation of the handling of her money continues. The nurse who took care of her for two decades will receive about $30 million after estate taxes. She had been randomly assigned by an agency to care for Clark in about 1991.
Not a dime was left to Clark's relatives, who are likely to challenge the will in court. Nothing was left to anyone associated with Butte, the Montana mining town where her father made his first millions in copper mining. And nothing goes to the various Clark charities that her father had established for women and orphans.
Clark's will leaves $500,000 to her attorney, $500,000 to her accountant (despite his felony conviction and status as a registered sex offender), both of whom are the subject of a criminal inquiry related to their handling of her finances. The will also names the men as her co-executors, making them eligible to collect fees for handling her estate.
A criminal investigation continues, with the Manhattan district attorney looking into her financial affairs, which are handled by attorney Wallace "Wally" Bock, 79, and her accountant, Irving H. Kamsler, 64, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a charge of attempting to send indecent materials to minors.

The will also sets up a foundation controlled by the attorney and accountant to hold most of her art collection, creating a museum in her 21,000-square-foot mansion called Bellosguardo, on a 24-acre oceanfront property in Santa Barbara, Calif., which she had not visited since her mother died in 1963. Most of the paintings from her Fifth Avenue apartment in New York will go to the new Bellosguardo Foundation, including works by Renoir, John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase. The attorney and accountant under investigation are two of the three board members, with the third being her California attorney.
Document: Read her last will and testament in this PDF file
Huguette Clark, the daughter of mining tycoon and U.S. Sen. William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), died May 24 at age 104 in New York City, in the hospital where she had lived under a fake name. She had lived in hospitals since the late 1980s, even when her health was good.
Her charitable bequests amount to about 75 percent of her estate, after taxes.
Besides the new foundation, her will specifies these bequests: $100,000 to her physician, Dr. Henry Singman; $500,000 to assistant Christopher Sattler; two years' salary to the estate manager in California, John Douglas; one year's salary to the manager of her 52-acre estate in Connecticut, Anthony Ruggiero; and $25,000 to the manager of her 42-room apartments on Fifth Avenue, Martin Gonzalez. She then lists the $500,000 each to her attorney and accountant. The properties in New York City and Connecticut will be sold.
Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, where she lived in a simple hospital room for so many years, receives $1 million.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which already has much of her father's art collection, will receive one painting, a Monet from the "Water Lilies" series, which has not been seen by the public since 1925, the year her father died.
The remainder of the estate, roughly $100 million before taxes, is divided in this fashion:
  • Sixty percent of the remainder goes to her longtime nurse, Hadassah Peri, who already received from Clark cash to buy four homes worth about $2 million. The nurse also gets Clark's extensive collection of French and Japanese dolls. This amount will be about $33 million after taxes.
  • A goddaughter, Wanda Styka, gets 25 percent, or roughly $12 million after taxes. Her father, Polish painter Tade Styka, was supported by the Clarks.
  • And 15 percent goes to the Bellosguardo Foundation, or roughly $8 million after taxes.
Nothing for relatives Nothing is left to any relative.
"I intentionally make no provision in this my Last Will and Testament for any members of my family, whether on my paternal or maternal side, having had minimal contacts with them over the years," it said. "The persons and institutions named herein as beneficiaries of my Estate are the true objects of my bounty."
The will is dated April 2005, when she was 98 years old, about the time the attorney cut off contact between Clark and her relatives.
The will is likely to be contested, particularly because it names the attorney as a beneficiary, and because of the criminal investigation. New York ethics rules prohibit lawyers from soliciting gifts from clients "for the benefit of the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer."
If a court invalidated the will, Clark's estate would flow under state law to her nearest relatives, the 21 descendants from her father's first marriage.
Several of these relatives have said that they and their parents had close relations with Clark until about 2005, when the will was signed, but that her attorney then cut off contact, telling them not to contact her again.
Clark had no children, and her only relatives were half-great-nieces and half-great-nephews and others descended from her father's first marriage, and scattered descendants of her mother's siblings. The court documents identify 21 living descendants of her father's first marriage, and none from her mother. (Huguette Clark's mother, Anna, had two children. The older daughter died just before her 17th birthday.)