Most of us we will never know or enjoy the ability to spend millions of dollars, just because we can. Many of us live day-to-day, pay our bills and scratch our way toward next months installment of bill payments and other responsibilities. For some, the economy and our current financial crisis has been fraught with worry and concern as to whether or not the ability to meet those payments and take care of our families will even be possible. Yes, we live in curious and uncertain times. We are the 99%. However, today I am not going to write about social inequality, the right vs. the left, how we need to make our communities stronger with good paying jobs and build communities that care and look after each other. I am not going to write about compassion or rather the lack of it, in a society that thinks its ok to praise someone for making it to the top at the cost of others. I mean really now…
If you have not heard of her, I would like to introduce you to a woman by the name of Huguette Clark.
Huguette is, or shall I say was (she passed in May 2011 at the age of 104), an eccentric and reclusive mining heiress. Her father
was William Clark, a copper and banking tycoon and U.S. senator who was born before the Mexican War of 1840. I came across this story as I was reading the newspaper and found it curious because when Ms. Clark passed she did not leave any of her estate (worth upwards of $400 million) to any relatives. She cut them out completely and of course they (the relatives) are now contesting her will.
Court records have revealed that Ms. Clark, from her hospital bed, spent $170 million between the years of 1996 and her death in 2011. If you did the quick calculation, that’s about $1 million a month. What’s incredible about this story, is that she spent all of this money without once stepping out of her room. Oh and for the record, she wasn’t shopping online.
So how did our reclusive friend, Ms. Clark do this you ask? She did this with the help of her lawyers and power of attorney’s Wallace Bock, and accountant, Irving Kamsler. Over those years, money was deducted from her personal account and was allocated as follows:
• Au Nain Bleu, a doll and toy shop in Paris, was paid $2.5 million between 1997 and 2006. A friend of Clark’s said her dolls were “her closest companions.”
• Theriault’s, an auctioneer of dolls, received $729,000 between 1997 and 2009.
• Clark paid a combined $60 million to the IRS and in New York state income taxes, since 1996.
• A charity that built a controversial security system for Jewish settlers in the West Bank received $1.85 million in donations. Bock’s daughter lives in the settlement protected by the system.
• Bock’s law firm received around $250,000 a year, and Kamsler around $90,000. If Clark’s will is allowed to stand, both men would receive much more–more than $8 million–as beneficiaries and as executors of the estate.
• Clark’s private nurse, Hadasah Peri, received a $5 million lump-sum payment, and around $131,000 a year.
• Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, where Clark lived even though for most of that time she wasn’t sick, received about $4.9 million since 1997, or around $1,000 a day.
• Clark’s closest friend, Suzanne Pierre, who served as her social secretary, received almost $12 million.
• Clark spent $3.75 million on taxes and co-op fees to keep up her unoccupied 15,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue apartment. She also paid more than $100,000 a year on property taxes for her New Canaan, Conn. country home.
So if you ever wondered how you can spend $170 Million just like that? Now you know.