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05/24/2011

Heiress Huguette Clark, owner of lavish Santa Barbara estate Bellosguardo, dies at 104

May 24, 2011 |  1:47 pm

Bellosguardo 

Huguette Clark, the 104-year-old heiress to a Montana copper fortune who owned a Santa Barbara mansion built on a 23-acre bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, has died at a Manhattan hospital even as an investigation continues into how her millions were handled.

Clark Clark spent the last two decades of her life in New York City hospitals. She died Tuesday, "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 Clark's finances.

The Manhattan district attorney is looking into claims made by 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.

Clark was born in 1906 to a then-67-year-old U.S. senator, William A. Clark of Montana, 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. As of last year, she still owned a 42-room, multi-floor apartment at 907 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan and a Connecticut castle surrounded by 52 acres of land in addition to the Santa Barbara estate.

Beginning in the 1960s, 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're among the few people who have contact with her. Distant relatives say they have not seen her in years.

More later at www.latimes.com/obits.

RELATED: Bellosguardo, Santa Barbara seaside jewel

-- Associated Press

Photos: The Bellosguardo mansion in Santa Barbara (top) and Huguette Clark in 1930. Credits: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times (top) and Associated Press file (bottom)

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