Inside Reclusive Heiress' Never-Occupied Mansion

New Canaan, Conn., chateau sells for $14.3M

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 15, 2014 10:22 AM CDT | Updated Apr 19, 2014 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper heiress who left behind a $300 million fortune (and quite a bit of family drama) when she died in 2011, bought a 14,266-square-foot mansion in New Canaan, Conn., in 1951—but never lived there. The secluded French-style chateau sits on 52 forested acres, and all that can be seen from the street are two small caretaker cottages. She told her friends and employees she meant the estate as a Cold War refuge, to which they could retreat if New York City were to come under nuclear attack. Instead it sat, empty even of furnishings, for more than 60 years. After being on the market since 2006, initially at a price of $34 million, "Le Beau Chateau" has finally been sold, for $14.3 million, to a fashion designer and his wife, NBC News reports.

Clark, who died at age 104, also had homes in California and New York, but spent the last two decades of her life in New York hospital rooms. She spent most of her time before that in her Manhattan apartment, and never even spent a single night in the Connecticut mansion, the New Canaan News reports. It was the Connecticut estate that led to the media's discovery that Clark was living as a recluse. The mansion has 22 rooms, nine bathrooms, a service courtyard for cars, 11 fireplaces, a wine cellar, a terrace, an elevator, an artist's loft, stairway balusters carved to look like paintbrushes—and a large black safe in one closet, which was recently drilled open and found to contain nothing except architectural plans for the addition built in 1952. Clark's three Fifth Avenue apartments, overlooking Central Park, recently sold for $54.8 million total; her Santa Barbara property will go to a new foundation for the arts, which will also receive the paintings Clark, an artist, created.

This August 2010, file photo, provided by Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild shows the New Caanan, Conn., estate of Huguette Clark, a copper heiress.
This August 2010, file photo, provided by Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild shows the New Caanan, Conn., estate of Huguette Clark, a copper heiress.   (AP Photo/Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild, File)
In this Aug. 11, 1930 file photo, Huguette Clark Gower, daughter of the late copper magnate and Senator, William A. Clark of Montana, stands against a wall in Reno, Nevada after being granted a divorce.
In this Aug. 11, 1930 file photo, Huguette Clark Gower, daughter of the late copper magnate and Senator, William A. Clark of Montana, stands against a wall in Reno, Nevada after being granted a divorce.   (AP Photo)
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