GO
Loading...

Huguette M. Clark estate trial delayed

Bill Dedman, Investigative Reporter, NBC News
Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 | 1:13 PM ET
Huguette was shy, but not sad. Her friends and the few relatives who knew her describe her as cheerful, gracious, stubborn, and devoted to her art and her charity to friends and strangers. She poses in a Japanese print dress at about age 37.
Source: The Estate of Huguette M. Clark, from the book "Empty Mansions."
Huguette was shy, but not sad. Her friends and the few relatives who knew her describe her as cheerful, gracious, stubborn, and devoted to her art and her charity to friends and strangers. She poses in a Japanese print dress at about age 37.

A last-ditch effort at a settlement is delaying Tuesday's scheduled start of the trial to determine who will inherit the $300 million estate of Huguette M. Clark, the reclusive heiress to a copper mining fortune, attorneys said Monday.

To allow time for negotiations, jury selection has been put off until Thursday morning in Surrogate's Court in Lower Manhattan.

The office of the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is trying to broker a settlement, attorneys said. His office's Charities Bureau has made previous attempts, but Clark's relatives, who are challenging her last will and testament, have not been able to find common ground with the beneficiaries named in the will.

More from NBC News:
Kin of heiress Huguette Clark in talks to receive share of $300 million
Doctor gives up $100,000 gift as Huguette Clark talks collapse
Potential heir to $300 million Clark copper fortune found dead

No rest for the wealthy
Friday, 2 Aug 2013 | 11:34 AM ET
A new study shows that many people making $750,000 or more don't retire until well into their 70s, CNBC's Robert Frank said.

It wasn't clear Monday night how close a settlement might be. Several of the more than 60 attorneys in the case declined to comment. Schneiderman's office had no comment.

Huguette (pronounced "oo-GET") Marcelle Clark was the youngest daughter of former U.S. Sen. William Andrews Clark (1839-1925), one of the copper kings of Montana and one of the richest men of the Gilded Age, a railroad builder and founder of Las Vegas. Born in Paris in 1906, Huguette was a shy painter and doll collector who spent her last 20 years living in simple hospital rooms. She attracted the attention of NBC News in 2009 because her fabulous homes in Connecticut, California and New York sat unoccupied but carefully maintained.

(Read more: Where the wealthy get their income)

Clark's will stated emphatically that none of her money should go to her relatives, who are descended from the first marriage of her father. The relatives challenged the will, claiming it was the product of fraud, that Clark was incompetent and that the signing ceremony was faulty.

(Read more: Retirement, the rich and the super-rich)

The beneficiaries include a new charitable foundation for the arts in California, based at the Clark summer home, called Bellosguardo, in Santa Barbara; Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, where she died at age 104; her private-duty registered nurse, who already received more than $30 million in gifts while Clark lived; a goddaughter; and Clark's attorney, accountant, doctor and other employees.

(Read more: Cash hoarders are the new wealthy)

Bill Dedman is the co-author of the new book "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune." The co-author is Paul Clark Newell Jr., Huguette Clark's cousin, who is not one of the relatives in line for her fortune if the will is overturned.

Featured

  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.