Mysterious Copper Heiress Huguette Clark Dies at 104

Tuesday, May 24, 2011  |  Updated 1:08 PM EDT
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Taken in 1930, about the time of her divorce, this is the last known photo of Huguette Clark.

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Huguette Clark, the famously reclusive multi-millionaire heiress, has died in a New York City hospital at the age of 104.

Clark died Tuesday morning in a hospital room where she was receiving hospice care while registered under a fake name, according to MSNBC.com's investigative reporter Bill Dedman, who has followed the mysterious Clark and the controversial handling of her incredible wealth in the last several years.

The cause of her death was not immediately known. In recent years Clark's eyesight had failed and her hearing was weak, and at times she had been unwilling to eat, said Dedman. 

Despite her vast wealth and relatively good physical health, Clark was "intensely shy" and had been living secluded in a hospital room for the past 22 years, reports Dedman. One of her attorneys represented her for 20 years without meeting her face to face, instead talking through a closed door.

Clark was born in Paris in 1906 to copper king and U.S. Senator William Andrews Clark of Montana, who was 60 when he married Clark's 21-year-old mother in 1902.

When she was four, Clark's family moved to New York City, where they lived in a 121-room house at Fifth Avenue and 77th Street. Clark attended Miss Spence's School of Girls, and when she reached 21, she inherited one-fifth of her father's estate, an even split with his children from his first marriage. The entire estate was estimated at up to $300 million, or about $3.6 billion today.

She had three opulent homes that remained unoccupied, including a $100 million estate in Santa Barbara, a $23 million country house in New Canaan, Conn., and a $100 million Fifth Avenue apartment.

In her last years, the handling of her fortune came under scrutiny, and city prosecutors continue to examine her financial records to determine if her attorney and her accountant had taken advantage of Clark, reports Dedman.

No information was available about any funeral Mass for Clark, who was raised a Roman Catholic. The family has made preparations in recent years for Clark to be entombed in the grand Clark family mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

SELECTED READING:

Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark dies at 104 (MSNBC)

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