A Dedicated Doll Collector: Huguette Clark

The last known photograph of Huguette Clark

Huguette Marcel Clark, the youngest daughter of former US Senator, William Andrew Clark, was born June 9, 1906 and died in 2011 at the age of 104.  A partying socialite in her younger years, mystery clouded her later life as she turned into a doll hoarding recluse.

The Clarks were part of the era of epic New York families that included the Rockefellers, the Guggenheims and the Astors. As a result of mining copper out West, William A. Clark was once the second-richest man in the US, second only to Rockefeller.

Huguette and her father William A. Clark

Huguette’s only known friend in the 70’s and 80’s was a Madame Pierre, the wife of Huguette’s physician. Huguette shared with Pierre her distrust of people and their motivations when it came to her money which Pierre gave as an excuse as to why Huguette clung so fervently to her vast and very expensive collection of dolls well into her late years. There’s a story that circles amongst those that know her that she once bought two first class plane tickets for a doll to travel with its courier from Paris to New York so that the doll had its very own seat and no harm came to it. As Clark grew older, she regressed further into the company of lifeless dolls because of her distrust of people.

Some of the lovely dolls from her collection

A rare visitor recalls walking into Huguette’s Manhattan home in the late 1950s and seeing that “the long gallery in her apartment was completely lined with armchairs, each providing a seat for a doll.” It was said that she had sitting area in every room for her dolls. Even then, considered a hermit, she always attended the Christian Dior fashion shows “to find the dresses for dress her dolls,”.

In her 80s and 90s, she spent tens of thousands on rare dolls at auction, often directing a surrogate from her hospital bed in bidding. She was a dedicated doll collector up until the day she died. Spending most of the last part of her life surrounded by her beautiful trustworthy dolls rather than dealing with people; which she had grown to believe, were untrustworthy, money hungry, and fleeting. I must say, I watch the news often and I have had my very own share of bad relationships and disappointing experiences with other humans, sometimes people really suck. I don’t blame her. Although Huguette Clark is long gone, but her dolls still exist. Today, her dolls sell at auctions for $30,000 to $100,000 easily. Huguette Clark was a mysterious woman, who became even more mysterious after she died.

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