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Millionaire Heiress Huguette Clark Dies, Will Contest Looms?

Huguette Clark, an heiress from the Gilded Age, died at the age of 104 sparking what may be a lengthy battle over her considerable estate. According to the New York Daily News, Clark left behind a $500 million fortune that includes a 44-room Fifth Avenue apartment, a chateau in Connecticut, and a collection of rare dolls.

A spokesperson for Clark's attorney revealed that Clark did make a will; however, the spokesperson did not reveal the beneficiaries. Whoever the beneficiaries may be, it is a safe bet that Clark's estate will be subject to intense scrutiny and a potential will contest. Parties will no doubt lawyer-up to get a slice of the $500 million pie.

The public interest over Huguette Clark's estate will largely be due to the eccentric and mysterious figure that Clark cut in Manhattan life. Unlike modern day heiresses, Clark shunned the public spotlight, her friends, and even family. As reported in the Daily News, Clark has long been estranged from her friends and family and has been living anonymously in a hospital for some time. Besides a small team of nurses, Clark has seemingly only had significant contact with her attorney, Wallace Bock, over the years.

With Clark cut off from the outside world, there have been allegations that Bock has abused his position of power over Clark for his own financial gain. The Daily News reports that last fall Clark's relatives sought an independent guardian to oversee her finances after Clark made suspicious donations of $1.5 million that indirectly benefitted Bock's daughter.

Manhattan prosecutors are currently investigating Bock's management of Clark's fortune.

Bock has said that he has excluded Clark from her family only because of Clark's express wishes. If Clark's family is similarly excluded from her will, especially to the benefit of Bock, Manhattanites can expect a long, public battle over the estate of the heiress who wanted nothing to do with the public.

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