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Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune (Unabridged)

by Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell

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When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly 60 years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the 19th century with a 21st-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for 20 years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money? Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark¿s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world. Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette¿s copper fortune. Empty Mansions is an enthralling story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms.

Customer Reviews


I was and am still obsessed with the story of this woman and her family! A great listen, but I felt compelled to buy the book as well to see the pictures that were referenced which added to the experience. What an interesting character.

Very descriptive book

I know a lot of people will love this book. I couldn't get through it but mostly because there were pages and pages of descriptions of... stuff. Like chandeliers and on and on. To be honest I don't have a vocabulary for all the different kinds of colums and architectural styles and kinds of sofas and chairs and whatnot to keep up. The story was super-interesting though and it even had some real audio (from the characters) which I LOVED. More of these audiobooks should have audio from the actual events.

Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune (Unabridged)
View in iTunes $26.95
  • Narrator: Kimberly Farr
  • Published: 2013

Customer Ratings