Huguette Clark, a reclusive copper heiress who has spent the past two decades hidden away in a Manhattan hospital room collecting dolls, has died just before her 105th birthday.
Clark leaves behind a 42-room apartment on Fifth Avenue worth around $100 million and sprawling estates in Connecticut and California. Clark’s father, copper tycoon William Andrews Clark, purchased the Fifth Avenue apartment for her in 1910 for three times the price of Yankee Stadium, powering it by seven tons of coal a day brought in on Clark’s personal subway line.
During the flapper era of the 1920s, Clark was seen as one of the country’s most eligible young women, but after a short-lived marriage and her mother’s death, Clark went into hiding.
She told her friends that wealth was a “menace to happiness,” and that she wanted only to stay home and play with her French dolls.
The last photograph taken of her (above) was more than 80 years ago.
Clark was not the only one among the affluent to hide from the limelight. Here are a few of the other reclusive millionaires throughout history:
1. Howard Hughes (1905-1976)
What did Howard Hughes not do? He was an aviator and engineer, a film producer and director, an industrialist and philanthropist, and a hotelier. But behind his many accomplishments was a paranoid, germ-phobic, reclusive man who desperately wanted to escape public view. By the end of this life, he had taken residence in hotels guarded by his “Mormon Mafia.”
2. Daniel Keith Ludwig (1897- 1992)
An American shipping magnate and billionaire, Ludwig’s name was little known in his day, because he didn’t want it to be. Ludwig often disguised his wealth by wearing cheap shoes and eyeglasses and carrying a plastic raincoat when it rained. And he had many ventures that were secret, including a massive effort to convert part of the Amazon to produce lumber and food and possibly rum-running during prohibition.
3. William Armsted Robinson (?- present)
The millionaire and founder of the Document Handling Limited (DHL) courier service is one of the former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R- Calif.) biggest donors, a breeder of exotic Lusitano horses, and a philanthropist for chimpanzees. But Robinson is also intensely private. When he was asked to testify during a 2003 trial that involved UPS, UPS spokesman David Bolger joked to The Journal of Commerce Online that he wasn’t even sure Robinson existed. “Maybe he’s a composite,” Bolger said.