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25 Local Warehouse Biography- Rich and Famous
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Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

Janet Maslin, The New York Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

When Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty 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 nineteenth century with a twenty-first-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 twenty 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.

Huguette was the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark, nearly as rich as Rockefeller in his day, a controversial senator, railroad builder, and founder of Las Vegas. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a world-renowned Stradivarius violin, a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she devoted her wealth to buying gifts for friends and strangers alike, to quietly pursuing her own work as an artist, and to guarding the privacy she valued above all else.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.

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. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, 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.

Review:

“An amazing story of profligate wealth...an outsized tale of rags-to-riches prosperity.” The New York Times

Review:

“An evocative and rollicking read, part social history, part hothouse mystery, part grand guignol.” The Daily Beast

Review:

“A compelling account of what happened to the Clark family and its fortune...a tremendous feat.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Review:

“Riveting...deliciously scandalous...a thrilling study of the responsibilities and privileges that come with great wealth.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Review:

“A spellbinding mystery.” Booklist

Review:

“Enlightening.” Library Journal

Review:

“A childlike, self-exiled eccentric, [Huguette Clark] is the sort of of subject susceptible to a biography of broad strokes, which makes Empty Mansions, the first full-length account of her life, impressive for its delicacy and depth.” Town & Country

Review:

“Who knew? Though virtually unknown today, W. A. Clark was one of the fifty richest Americans ever — copper baron, railroad builder, art collector, U.S. senator, and world-class scoundrel. Yet his daughter and heiress Huguette became a bizarre recluse. Empty Mansions reveals this mysterious family in sumptuous detail.” John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Review:

Empty Mansions is a mesmerizing tale that delivers all the ingredients of a top-notch mystery novel. But there is nothing fictional about this true, fully researched story of a fascinating and reclusive woman from an era of fabulous American wealth. Empty Mansions is a delicious read — once you start it, you will find it hard to put down.” Kate Alcott, bestselling author of The Dressmaker

Review:

“In Empty Mansions, a unique American character emerges from the shadows. Through deep research and evocative writing, Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., have expertly captured the arc of history covered by the remarkable Clark family, while solving a deeply personal mystery of wealth and eccentricity.” Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

About the Author

Bill Dedman introduced the public to heiress Huguette Clark and her empty mansions through his compelling series of narratives for NBC, which became the most popular feature in the history of its news website, topping 110 million page views. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting while writing for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.

Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of Huguette Clark, has researched the Clark family history for twenty years, sharing many conversations with Huguette about her life and family. He received a rare private tour of Bellosguardo, her mysterious estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Janna Mauldin Heiner, February 2, 2015 (view all comments by Janna Mauldin Heiner)
This is the fascinating story of the daughter of one of the last century's wealthiest men in the world. The Clark fortune equaled or surpassed that of the Rockefellers; the sums discussed in this book are astronomical, almost beyond comprehension, and the woman who spent them both eccentric and engaging. Bill Dedman discovered her story when he stumbled on one of the empty mansions she owned. Homes in which she had never lived, but which were kept ready for her return by well-paid house managers. Homes filled with dolls and books and silence, whose owner oozed money but spent her last years living in a hospital, despite being in good health for a woman of her age.

The book is compelling, but what makes it more so is that Huguette Clark was still living into the 1990s, spending insane amounts of money, hiding even from her family, treasuring her odd collections and befriending her nurses. Eccentric beyond words--but also witty, funny, and generous.

I would have liked to have met her.
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DANE, July 13, 2014 (view all comments by DANE)
If you're fascinated by eccentic characters or extraordinary family fortunes, then this will be a must-read. I'd never heard of the Clark family until this but apparently, they were right up there with the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. A string of empty mansions across the country led the author to investigate this surprising story and the result is a wonderful page-turner. Huguette's 100+ years will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345534538
Author:
Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Publisher:
Plume
Author:
Dedman, Bill
Author:
Newell Jr., Paul Clark
Subject:
Rich & Famous
Subject:
Biography-Rich and Famous
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20140431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Rich and Famous
Biography » Women
Featured Titles » General
History and Social Science » Current Affairs » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » US History » Social and Economic History
History and Social Science » World History » General

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.00 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Plume - English 9780345534538 Reviews:
"Review" by , “An amazing story of profligate wealth...an outsized tale of rags-to-riches prosperity.”
"Review" by , “An evocative and rollicking read, part social history, part hothouse mystery, part grand guignol.”
"Review" by , “A compelling account of what happened to the Clark family and its fortune...a tremendous feat.”
"Review" by , “Riveting...deliciously scandalous...a thrilling study of the responsibilities and privileges that come with great wealth.”
"Review" by , “A spellbinding mystery.”
"Review" by , “Enlightening.”
"Review" by , “A childlike, self-exiled eccentric, [Huguette Clark] is the sort of of subject susceptible to a biography of broad strokes, which makes Empty Mansions, the first full-length account of her life, impressive for its delicacy and depth.”
"Review" by , “Who knew? Though virtually unknown today, W. A. Clark was one of the fifty richest Americans ever — copper baron, railroad builder, art collector, U.S. senator, and world-class scoundrel. Yet his daughter and heiress Huguette became a bizarre recluse. Empty Mansions reveals this mysterious family in sumptuous detail.”
"Review" by , Empty Mansions is a mesmerizing tale that delivers all the ingredients of a top-notch mystery novel. But there is nothing fictional about this true, fully researched story of a fascinating and reclusive woman from an era of fabulous American wealth. Empty Mansions is a delicious read — once you start it, you will find it hard to put down.”
"Review" by , “In Empty Mansions, a unique American character emerges from the shadows. Through deep research and evocative writing, Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., have expertly captured the arc of history covered by the remarkable Clark family, while solving a deeply personal mystery of wealth and eccentricity.”
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