The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark

Meryl Gordon. Grand Central, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4555-1263-8
Bestselling author Gordon (Mrs. Astor Regrets) takes on another heiress, the notorious recluse Huguette Clark, as the subject of her latest investigation into the world of New York's wealthiest. Clark was the youngest daughter of Montana robber baron William Andrews Clark, who made his fortune in copper and drew decades of media frenzy for his cash-fueled Senatorial races, fondness for fine art, and gaudy Fifth Avenue mansion. Meticulously researched, Gordon's account catalogues every juicy detail and eccentricity amassed over a century: Clark's years at the elite Spence School, under the Miss Spence; her painting lessons and prolonged flirtation with the famed Dutch portrait painter Tade Styke; her refusal, in the wake of her mother's death, to step outside of her Fifth Avenue apartments for just shy of two decades. Most headline-worthy of all were Clark's final years, spent (despite her net worth and supposed good health), in shabby Beth Israel Hospital quarters, avoiding her descendants and bestowing millions on her nurses, doctors, lawyer and accountant. Unsurprisingly, a massive money-grab unfolded in the wake of her death. But did Clark have diagnosable neuroses? Did she sit in her lonely rooms daydreaming about sex, family, fresh air, and every other characteristic of the normal life she denied herself? Readers who salivated over headlines like "Poor Little Rich Girl's Sad Life" (Courier-Mail) and "America's Antisocial Socialite" (Scottish Express) will be left wanting more. Yet this very unwillingness to speculate—Gordon's strict adherence to primary documents and witness interviews—makes for a rigorous, authoritative account of a 20th century enigma. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/21/2014
Release date: 05/27/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-0268-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4555-1264-5
Hardcover - 978-1-4789-5339-5
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-4555-1265-2
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