Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2014 Issue

Remnants of One of the Wealthiest Estates Ever Formed Has Been Sold

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William A. and Huguette Clark, a century ago (from Christie's catalogue).

An auction at Christie's last month brought to a conclusion a story very long in the making. The collection was remarkable, though not as remarkable as the history behind it. This was a story of superlatives – enormous wealth, great eccentricity, and a very long amount of time.

 

The items sold came from the estate of Huguette Clark, but the story begins with her father, William Andrews Clark. That name probably doesn't mean a lot to people today, but at one time it had a ring as familiar as the names Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie. They came to dinner at his mansion. William Andrews Clark was a man of extreme wealth.

 

Clark was born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania in 1839. We need to stop to answer the immediate question that jumps out – how could we be talking in 2014 about the estate of a woman whose father was born in 1839? Has this estate been in probate for a hundred years? This is where the part about a very long time comes in. Clark was 67 years old when his daughter, Huguette, was born. Huguette died in 2011, two weeks shy of her 105th birthday. That was two generations spanning 172 years. The number of people who live to see a parent's 172nd birthday must be small indeed.

 

Mr. Clark moved to Montana in 1863 during the early mining boom. He first sought gold, but became the most notable of Montana's “copper kings” in the 1880s. Like California and Colorado, Montana had gold, but it was the copper that filled the Montana hills that became its source of riches. The metal that once would have elicited limited interest was now in high demand. First the telegraph, and now electricity and telephones created a huge demand for copper transmission lines, rapidly being strung across the country. He made an enormous amount of money in mining, and parlayed that into other interests, such as banking and railroads. Everything he touched turned to gold. He personally paid for a rail line from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Las Vegas was created as a water stop for his trains, and Clark County, in which the city is located, was named for him. By the turn of the century, William Andrews Clark was second only to Rockefeller in terms of personal wealth.

 

Clark wished to be a senator and his wish was granted. He bribed his way into a seat in the days when senators were appointed by the state legislature. As he famously pointed out, “I never bought a man who wasn't for sale.” It is said that the 17th amendment, which provided for direct election of senators, was passed in his honor. However, if not everything about Clark was wrapped in glory (Twain despised him), he was unusually generous in terms of pay and benefits for his miners. That was a huge exception to the rule of his day.

 

Clark's first wife died in 1893. He remarried a French woman, having two daughters, Andrée and Huguette, with his second wife, Anna. Huguette was born in 1906. Clark moved to New York and built his family a 121-room mansion (Andrée and Huguette did not have to share a bedroom). It had 26 bedrooms, 5 art galleries, and 31 bathrooms. It's always nice to have one of those close by in an emergency.

 

Clark died in 1925, which takes us to the second superlative of this story – extreme eccentricity. Clark's second family was never close to the children of his first. Mother and daughters of the second, however, were extremely close to each other. That may have been Huguette's downfall. Andrée died in 1919 at the age of 16. Huguette was devastated. When her father died, it was just she and her mother, left with a 121-room mansion. She did come out long enough to get married in 1928. However, that did not work, with claims that it was never consummated. Huguette was a shy woman who had trouble emerging from the childhood she shared with her beloved sister. In 1930 she divorced. There are no known photographs of Huguette taken after 1930, the last 81 years of her life. She and her mother moved to a more modest 42-room apartment where she lived until moving to a hospital room many years later.

 

She and her mother did some socializing over the years, including throwing lavish parties. They even had two country estates, one in California and the other in Connecticut. However, as her mother aged, socializing decreased. After her mother's death in 1963, it stopped entirely. While Huguette had these two beautiful estates, both meticulously cared for until the day she died, she hadn't visited either in over 50 years. Her last trips came in the 1950's.

 

If her father was like Rockefeller and Carnegie, Huguette became more like another wealthy man – Howard Hughes. She was a recluse in the extreme. All of her half-siblings save one had died by the 1930's, but she had little contact with the one who survived nor any of her nephews and nieces. Outside of a close aid/companion, and to some extent her lawyer, she saw almost no one. Even most of those people who worked for her had only indirect contact, or occasionally speaking through a closed door. However, she was a collector. Her estate included numerous books, though these were left from a different era. What she actively collected was dolls. Huguette apparently lived her life in her childhood, even as she reached the age of 104. From the 1960's on, she seems to have lived in the past.

 

In 1988, Huguette determined she was ill and needed to go to the hospital. She never left. She did not need to stay. Her health was fine for her age. Huguette preferred the even more secure environment of a hospital room (a very private one). She lived with her doll collection and a very few contacts, even as her three homes were kept waiting for her to arrive on a moment's notice. For the next 23 years she remained in her hospital room, until she died in 2011 at the age of 104.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, 8 June 2016, New York
    Bonhams June 8: ARISTOTLE.<br>384-322 B.C.E. De animalibus <br>US$ 300,000-500,000.
  • Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 18. Blaeu, <i>Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula</i>, 1660.<br>Est. $14000-$17000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 20. Pitt, <i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula</i>, 1680. Est. $9500-$11000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 65. Ortelius, <i>Americae sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio</i>, 1571. <br>Est. $6000-$7000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 84. Bailleul, <i>L'Amerique Divisee en Ses Principales Parties</i>, 1752.<br>Est. $19000-$22000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 99. Sayer & Bennett, <i>The American Military Pocket Atlas</i>, 1776. <br>Est. $10000-$12000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 269. Reid, <i>Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia</i>, 1796. <br>Est. $2750-$3500
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 291. Carleton, <i>Map of Massachusetts Proper</i>, 1801. Est. $12000-$14000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 378. Keulen, <i>Pas Kaart vande Noord Oost Kust van Cuba en d'Oost Kust van Florida</i>, 1695. Est. $3250-$4000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 651. Ptolemy/Fries, <i>Tabula Superioris Indiae & Tartariae Maioris</i>, 1541.<br>Est. $3000-$4000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 688. Wit, <i>Nova Africa Descriptio</i>, 1660.<br>Est. $2750-$3500
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 706. Ortelius, <i>Maris Pacifici</i>, 1589.<br>Est. $8000-$9000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 727. Audubon, <i>Least Stormy-Petrel</i>, 1836. Est. $1400-$1700
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 741. Bordone, <i>Isolario</i>, 1547.<br>Est. $16000-$19000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 747. Teesdale, <i>A New General Atlas of the World</i>, 1835. Est. $2000-$2750
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 752. Colton, <i>Colton's Atlas of the World Volume I and II</i>, 1856.<br>Est. $2500-$3250
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 760. Prevost, <i>Histoire Generale des Voyages ... Tome Quatorzieme</i>, 1757. <br>Est. $2400-$3000
  • <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 131. After Karl Bodmer (1809-1983) Pehriska-Ruhpa Aquatint. $1500-$2500
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 212. Catlin Snow Show Dance Hand Tinted Lithograph No. 14. $1000-$2000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 213: Hurlimann After Bodner Saukie Fox Indians Aquatint. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 226: After Karl Bodmer. Dance of the Mandan Indians Aquatint. $1000-$1500.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 281: Karl Bodmer (1809-1983) Massika and Wakusasse Hand. $750-$1500.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 244: After Catlin Nah-To-Toh Pa Lithograph, Plus Another. $300-$600.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 305: History...Indian Tribes N. America, McKenney & Hall, 3. $3000-$5000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 316: Catlin, George, "North American Indians," 1841, 2 Vols. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 284: Catlin, George, "North American Indians," 1926, 2 Vols. $200-$300.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 285: Coleson, Miss Ann, "Among the<br>Sioux Indians!" 1864. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 289: Heard, L.V.D., Sioux War and Massacres, 1865, First. $400-$800.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 288: Life of Life of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak or Black Hawk, 1834. $400-$800.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. <i>A superb collection of manuscripts signed by Lincoln and relics related to Lincoln’s death</i>. Washington, 1864-1865
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Rare Relic of the Underground Railroad (1857). <i>$500 Reward Ran away ...</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CARTER, SUSANNAH. <i>The Frugal Housewife,</i> (1772) the second American cookbook, plates by Paul Revere.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> SCHIRRA, WALTER M.. Icon of the American Space Program. <i>A Complete Set of Schirra’s Flight Log Books (1947-69).</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> A fine pair of daguerreotypes, one a black nurse holding a white baby, the other the white parents. Maryland, c. 1853.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Internet. (COMPUTERS.) CERF, VINTON & KAHN, ROBERT. <i>"A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication" in IEEE Transactions on Communications.</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Anne & Margot Frank's copy of <i>Grimm's Fairy Tales</i>, in which Anne wrote her own and Margot's name, circa 1940. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Albert Einstein, group of 4 letters Signed to Helmut L. Bradt regarding Bradt's emigration to the U.S., one bearing Nazi censor ink stamps, 1939-40. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Archive of items from Ludwig Bemelmans to producer Mary K. Frank, concerning <i>The Street <br>Where the Heart Lies</i>, 1959-62. <br>$10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Archive of correspondence to<br>Edwin A. Van Valkenburg from President Theodore Roosevelt and members of his family, 1913-21. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Oscar Wilde, manuscript notes panning a book on book collecting, circa 1886. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b><br>John Hancock, partly-printed document Signed as Governor of Massachusetts, Boston, 1781.<br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Franz Liszt, Autograph Letter<br>Signed to Carl Gille, Rome, 1869. $4,00 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Joseph Conrad, photograph Signed and dated, 1918. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b><br>Two Guns White Calf, photograph postcard Signed with his pictogram, 1929. $800 to $1,200.

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