Yesterday we indulged in some idle speculation about what might happen to the fortune of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, who died yesterday after decades of seclusion. Clark, who had cut herself off from her remaining relatives, died with three very valuable pieces of property, their contents (including art works and a potentially very valuable doll collection), and an estimated $500,000,000 in the bank. There is a will, but just like everything else about Clark, it's completely secret. When she died, control of her fortune was the subject of a court case brought by some relatives, who claimed her lawyer, Wallace Bock, and her accountant, Irving Kamsler, had inappropriately assumed too much control over her vast fortune. We threw out some suggestions of what might happen to her mountains of cash and houses, and many of you took to Open Wire with your own suggestions of what would, and what should, come of the money. Here are a few of note:
Morgan 1952 echoed the sentiments of many with his entreaty that the money be put to charitable use:
Why not to the American Veterans who live in card board boxes? Or the Vets of Foreign wars who came back to the USA without arms or legs? Or to Cancer research? Or to be put into a fund for devastating events, like the floods in Iowa, the tornadoes in Missouri? There are many many people right here in OUR country that can benefit from that kind of money. And if doled our properly, it CAN go a long way...
Kedkerton had some amusing historical anecdotes (that we didn't fact-check, so take them with a grain of salt) bundled with the suggestion that the money should go back to the State of Montana, which originally supplied it:
What's lost in this story is the original source of all of Ms. Clark's wealth, conservatively estimated at over $500 million. Her father, William Andrews Clark, accumulated nearly the entirety of it in through copper mining in Butte, Montana, in the late 19th century. Afterwards, he took his fortune, bought second-rate French art, donated to a private museum in Washington, DC, and built a 131-room mansion on 5th Avenue in New York City. Upon her father's death in 1925 Huguette inherited a large percentage of the money and spent most of the rest of her life in seclusion on 5th Avenue surrounded by a wait staff who, among other things, spent their time translating Flintstone episodes into French for her and ironing her dolls clothes. To describe her as being the epitome of the "idle rich" does not even begin to do her life justice. Perhaps some of her fortune could return to Montana, one of the poorest state's in the nation, and particularly to the people of Butte who, because of a century of copper mining instituted by her father (and long-since abandoned) now live in, to put it charitably, an environmental wasteland and listed now as the largest EPA Superfund site in the nation. Some of her money would go a long way in a place like Butte, America, rather than to a New York city doll museum or convicted sex offenders/accountants.
Many thought distributing the wealth would be the best way to deal with it. Ken Brockman invoked the workers:
Miss Clark should spread her wealth out over the whole country as the working people were the ones that earned her father his wealth.
I'd be happy with $150,000.00 from anyone just to get my bills paid(student loan and such) to be debt free. not even to buy a new car.
Weird. I guess you can't take it with you! The heiress was obviously hoping she could. What rebellion made sense in her 30s, in the 30s, becomes eccentricity in your hundreds. Can you imagine owning a beautiful beach home in CA and never seeing it or letting anyone else use it? Can you imagine shutting down in the 60s because you mom died? That's my entire lifetime in age, and I think I'm old! I have family just like this, and I can see why they wanted a beneficiary or helper. They think their rebellion is wise, but in the end it is their undoing. Think of the rich life she could have lived, one that us mere mortal would kill for!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.