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Eerie Photos Reveal The Lonely Life Of A Reclusive Heiress And Her Empty Mansions

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When Huguette Clark passed away in 2011 at the age of 104, she left behind a fortune worth $300 million. But just-released photos reveal that many of the trappings of the heiress's fortune were abandoned long before her death.

The daughter of U.S. Sen. William A. Clark, the mining and railroad tycoon who founded Las Vegas, Huguette removed herself from public life in the 1930s, secluding herself in the family's Fifth Avenue New York apartment. In doing so, she left mansions in Santa Barbara, Calif., and New Canaan, Conn., largely untouched.

Photos of Clark's many preserved yet uninhabited estates, published in a new biography, "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune," provide a view into Clark's eerie hollowness. Here's a peek into the life and mansions of Huguette Clark.

  • Huguette as a teenager
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • Huguette holds her violin on a balcony in Paris
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    Huguette was trained on the violin and at one point owned three instruments made by the Stradivari, the renowned violin-making family of the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • View from the roof of the Clark apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    Huguette had three apartments here.
  • Doll furniture at Fifth Avenue
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • An uninhabited bedroom at Fifth Avenue
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • Huguette in an Indian costume with her father, W.A. Clark
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    The photo was taken in 1912.
  • The Clark family’s country retreat, Le Beau Château
    Stefenturner.com via Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, from the book "Empty Mansions."
    There's no bell, no buzzer, only a sign of warning outside the faded serpentine wall by the caretaker cottages of the 52-acre Le Beau Château, in New Canaan, Conn. No one has lived in it since 1951.
  • A two-story addition at Le Beau Château
    Stefenturner.com via Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, from the book "Empty Mansions."
  • The spiral front staircase of Le Beau Château
    Stefenturner.com via Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, from the book "Empty Mansions."
  • Huguette playing violin
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • Huguette in her debutante days
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    This photo was used by newspapers alongside her engagement announcement.
  • Bedroom at the Clark summer home, Bellosguardo, in California
    Karl Obert from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    Huguette's mother Anna's bedroom in about 1940 at Bellosguardo in Santa Barbara. A painting by Sargent hangs next to the window, showing a woman dancing the tarantella for a man on a rooftop in Capri. A photo of elder daughter Andrée is next to the lamp.
  • The dining room at Bellosguardo
    Karl Obert from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    This is one of the rooms said to have originally been in the old Clark Mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York. The 167 vertical panels are each unique, carved from a single piece of black oak. The ceiling has a whimsical border with gargoyles and classical figures. This photo is from about 1940.
  • The frescoes behind Bellosguardo
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • The garage at Bellosguardo today
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    A 1933 Cadillac V-16 seven-passenger limousine with golden goddess hood ornament remains under an ornate chandelier inside the garage of Bellosguardo.
  • A sign in a service room off the Bellosguardo kitchen
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    Concerned with disrupting the layout of the house, a servant reportedly left the following note: "On 29 November 2001, I moved a white, wooden step stool from this room to the Main Wing elevator as an aid to rescue in case the elevator gets stuck. Harris."
  • Bellosguardo today
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
    A view of the side of the Indiana limestone facade of Bellosguardo.
  • Huguette in 1943
    Estate of Huguette Clark from EmptyMansionsBook.com
  • "Empty Mansions"
    A new biography of Huguette Clark and her estate by Bill Dedham and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

See more photos of Huguette Clark and her empty mansions at emptymansionsbook.com or purchase the best-selling book here.

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