Posts tagged Bill Dedman
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

On January 8, 1839, during the eighth US president's time in office, William A. Clark was born in a Pennsylvania log cabin. One hundred and seventy-two years and thirty-six presidents later, his daughter Huguette would be living in reclusion in the middle of Manhattan, the century-old heiress of an unfathomable fortune rendered from copper in the time of the Civil War. It’s an extraordinary story of rags-to-riches with several lifetimes’ worth of scandal, loss, and generosity in between – a story of a remarkable family and one of American history’s greatest fortunes, both fallen into the shadows, hidden in plain sight. The breadcrumbs of this forgotten piece of social and cultural history were stumbled upon in 2009 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman who, when fanciful curiosity led him slightly out of his price range, came across an abandoned mansion while he was house-hunting in Connecticut. He soon discovered that the house, in a shambles but still handled by a manager, was owned by a woman who had never lived in it – a woman with the unfamiliar name of Huguette Clark. Further curiosity led Dedman to find out that Huguette had yet another mansion to her name on the opposite coast, as well as three expansive apartments in Manhattan. All empty. Dedman went on to investigate these abandoned residences and their elusive owner, the relatively unknown Huguette Clark, who at one hundred and two years old was living in perfect health in a Manhattan hospital – and had been for twenty years.

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