Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2011 Issue

Death of Eccentric, 104-Year-Old Lady Leads to a Museum for her Art and Books

Huguettefather

Huguette Clark (right) at age 11 in Montana, with father and sister Andrée.

A 21,000 square-foot mansion in Santa Barbara, California, will one day be the home of a fabulous museum, including art and books from an old and spectacular personal collection. Not much is known about the collection, especially the books, though a first edition of Paradise Lost is said to be part of the library. It seems to be more oriented to visual art, but the owner was the half-sister of William Andrews Clark, Jr., whose books were bequeathed to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California Los Angeles when he died in 1934. It is one of the more important rare book libraries in the country.

 

This magnificent gift is filled with intrigue, a bit of Howard Hughes combined with a person connected to times very long ago. The mansion and collection are the gifts of Huguette Marcelle Clark, a 104-year-old woman who, like Howard Hughes, disappeared from public view many decades ago. She died in May, just two weeks short of her 105th birthday.

 

This story goes well back into the 19th century. Ms. Clark's father, William Andrews Clark, was born in 1839. Is there anyone else still alive whose father was born in 1839? Probably not. Two generations spanning 172 years. William Clark was a clever man. Born in Pennsylvania, he moved west to the Montana Territory, where he became one of Butte's legendary "copper kings." By the 1880s, he was an extraordinarily wealthy man, with business interests extending far beyond mining. By the turn of the century, he was one of the richest men in America, with wealth equivalent to something like $3 billion today. It was Clark who established Las Vegas, as a stop for his railroad (Clark County is named for him).

 

Clark developed friends, enemies, and sycophants along the way. Some saw him as unscrupulous. Mark Twain has been quoted as saying of Clark, "He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs."  Twain apparently didn't care much for him. The reference to the senate came from Clark's desire to be a senator in the days when U.S. senators were appointed by the state legislature. Clark simply bribed his way to the appointment. As he later was said to have quite accurately pointed out, "I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale." It was reputedly at least partly because of Clark that the 17th Amendment, providing for direct election of senators, was passed. The Senate refused to seat Clark, but he later would be successfully selected to a term in the Senate in 1901.

 

Clark was married twice. He and his first wife had five children. In fact, the late Huguette Clark actually had a sibling who died in the 19th century. Mr. Clark's first wife died in 1893, and he later married Anna La Chapelle, 39 years his junior. She had two daughters, Andrée, born in 1902, and Huguette, born in 1906, when her father was 67 years old. Mr. Clark built himself and his family a 121-room (including 31 bathrooms) mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York, where he lived until he died in 1925.

 

Undoubtedly, Huguette did not have a typical childhood, though it seems to have been a pleasant one. She probably never bonded much with her father's first family, but was close to her mother and full sister, Andrée. Andrée died in 1919 at the age of 16, and this tragic event may partly explain the reclusiveness Huguette developed as the years wore on. Huguette did get married once, but it didn't last. In 1928, she married a man who had worked for her father. She claimed desertion, a 1940 book asserted the marriage was never consummated. By 1930, she was divorced, shy, and never to be married again.


She then moved in with her mother, sharing a "smaller," 42-room apartment in New York. It would be her official residence for the remainder of her life. There are no known photographs taken of Huguette Clark after 1930.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions