Reclusive late heiress bequeathes $25M Monet painting to Corcoran

June 22, 2011

Huguette M. Clark, the reclusive heiress who died last month in New York, has left a painting from Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” series to the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The bequest was revealed in a will that her attorneys filed Wednesday in New York.

Clark, 104, had an extensive art collection in her 42-room apartment on Fifth Avenue. The art, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent, is being transferred to the Bellosguardo Foundation, which is named after her 24-acre estate in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Except for the Monet, Clark’s entire collection of art, as well as her rare books and Stradivarius, will be housed at Bellosguardo, according to the will.

The Monet was the only work separated from the heiress’s collection. Clark purchased the small 1907 canvas in 1930 from Monet’s gallery in Paris. The work was last publicly displayed in 1925.


Huguette Clark, shown here in 1930, died May 24 at the age of 104. The heir to a mining fortune, she had long lived as a recluse. Her estate is valued at $400 million. (AP Photo/AP)

“The Corcoran is deeply grateful for the generosity of the Clark family over the years,” said Harry Hopper, the chairman of the museum and its art college.

In a statement, Hopper said: “Senator Clark’s remarkable gift of European masterpieces still stands as a cornerstone of the Corcoran collection, and the addition of this spectacular Monet painting (Nympheas 1907) will find a happy home in the Collection as the Corcoran continues to celebrate the Clark family patronage.”

John D. Dadakis, the chairman of the New York private-wealth services group at Holland & Knight law firm, said the painting had been estimated at $25 million to $30 million. “Based on my understanding,” he said of the gift, “this is her very strong-willed way of saying, ‘I have a special relationship with the Corcoran.’ ”

“Water Lilies,” a series of 250 oil paintings, is one of the world’s most famous masterpieces. Monet, a beloved Impressionist painter, was inspired by, and never tired of, his flower garden at Giverny.

Clark, who hadn’t been seen in public in decades, had close family ties to the Corcoran. Her father, William Andrews Clark — a copper, timber and railroad tycoon and former senator — gave his entire extensive art collection to the Corcoran in 1925. His holdings of European art and antiquities number 775 works, including 166 paintings.

In recognition of the donation, the museum built and named a wing after him. His daughter had exhibited seven of her own paintings at the Corcoran in 1929.

Huguette Clark, whose estate was valued at nearly $400 million, had no known survivors.

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