Mystery heiress abandons $100 million mansion in Santa Barbara

Danita Craft's picture

A palatial $100 million mansion abandoned by a reclusive heiress remains empty in Santa Barbara.

A Santa Barbara, California mansion worth $100 million has been empty for almost half a century. Bellosguardo estate overlooks the Pacific Ocean on one of the the west coast's most scenic bluffs. The owner is centenarian Huguette Clark, who is believed to have been absent for more than 50 years.

A 23 acre estate Bellosguardo mansion

Clark - a 104 year old heiress - lives in relative solitude in a medial care facility in New York. Her surroundings are drab compared to most homes, but the 23 acre estate she abandoned is meticulously cared for. At Bellosguardo mansion, the roses still bloom, the lawns are mowed, and it looks like the owners have just driven out for the afternoon.

When Huguette was born, her father, Senator William Clark of Montanna was 62, and her mother, Anna, was 23. The couple had no marriage certificate, but remained together as husband and wife. They bought Bellosguardo estate in 1923, at a cost of $300,000. In 1933, Mrs. Clark had the original home torn down. She hired Biltmore Hotel architect, Reginald Johnson, to build the newer 21,000 square foot mansion, Bellosguardo, meaning beautiful view.

Huguette'a father passed away in March of 1925. According to Paul Luvera Journal, "After her father died, Huguette practiced music and art. In 1928 she became engaged to William Gower who had worked for her father. They were married at the Santa Barbara estate that year. She was 22 and he was 23 years old. They moved to New York to live in a fifth avenue apartment close to her mother. Two years later she moved to Reno with her mother and six servants to establish residency for a divorce from William."

As a young woman, Huguette was briefly associated with the British Duke of Leinster, Edward Fitzgerald. The two denied any relationship, and Fitzgerald later admitted during bankruptcy proceedings that he'd been in America searching for a wealthy wife. Huguette withdrew from society in her early twenties. When her mother died in 1963, she became more reclusive, and some associates believe that she never stopped grieving the loss of her mother.

In addition to Bellosguardo, Huguette Clark owns a 5th Avenue mansion in New York that cost more to build than Yankee Stadium. Its 42 rooms include art galleries, Turkish baths and antique furniture. The heiress also owns a Connecticut estate that she has never lived in. Huguette Clark has no heirs. Her other holdings have included cattle, timber, copper mines, and rail road cars. At one time, her father, who was second in wealth only to the Rockefellers, owned most of the land in Las Vegas. Huguette Clark now wants only her privacy, and Bellosguardo stands empty, like a sentinel of solitude and beauty.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
so sad I see this place off the freeway every day and always thought how cool it must be to live there with all those sevants but to find out the real story is a shock...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Yeah, with all those savants there I could have them do my calculus homework, count thousands of thumbtacks I drop on the floor in an instant, hell I could even win at blackjack!

Submitted by Ken (not verified) on
Miss Huguette Clark. Please contact me at I would like to meet you and have something to ask. I know its been a long time but I want to see if its possible to see you!! My name is Ken when you respond then I can give details

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
How sad to withdraw at such an early age. There must have been a lot of pressures to make her do that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It's really sad that such a young woman would be so depressed and that there was to no one there to reach her. We all loose our parents and we hope to see them again some day. I would love to converse with this centenerian and see if she could still find peace before she leaves this world.

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