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Huguette Clark, 104; probe continues of fortune’s handling

By Verena Dobnik
Associated Press / May 25, 2011

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NEW YORK — Huguette Clark, the 104-year-old heiress to a Montana copper fortune who once lived in the largest apartment on Fifth Avenue, has died at a Manhattan hospital even as an investigation continues into how her millions were handled.

Ms. Clark spent the last two decades of her life in New York City hospitals. She died yesterday, “with dignity and privacy,’’ her lawyer, Wallace Bock, said in a statement.

The statement was released by Robert Anello, an attorney who represents Bock in an investigation into Ms. Clark’s finances.

The Manhattan district attorney is looking into complaints by Ms. Clark’s family that she was kept isolated from almost everyone except Bock and her accountant and that she may not have understood decisions being made related to her fortune.

Ms. Clark was born in 1906 to a US senator, William A. Clark of Montana, then 67, and a 28-year-old Michigan woman named Anna Eugenia La Chapelle. Clark had made a fortune in mining and was one of the richest men in America. He built railroads across the United States, founding Las Vegas in the process.

Huguette Clark’s fortune is believed to be worth some $500 million. By last year, she still owned a 42-room, multifloor apartment at 907 Fifth Ave.; a Connecticut castle surrounded by 52 acres of land; and a Santa Barbara, Calif., mansion built on a 23-acre bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Beginning in the 1960s, Ms. Clark rarely left her Fifth Avenue home, having whatever she needed delivered. She moved into a hospital in the 1980s.

Bock and accountant Irving Kamsler had been in charge of her financial affairs for years, and they are among the few people who had contact with her. Distant relatives say they had not seen her in years.