- Huguette Clark died in 2011 after two decades living in a New York hospital
- It is the first time that the insanity argument has been used during three years of heavy litigation over the Montana copper heiress’ $300m estate
- Investigation was launched into her finances after it emerged she had signed 2 wills just weeks apart – with the second cutting out her family
- An earlier investigation found she was of sound mind and signed checks for her generous gifts in her usual neat handwriting
- A film of Huguette Clark’s life is being planned by Eat Pray Love director
New court documents in the latest battle over the vast fortune of Huguette Clark have claimed that the reclusive heiress was ‘insane’.
It is the first time that the insanity argument has been used during three years of feverish litigation over the Montana copper heiress’ estate.
Clark died in May 2011 after spending the last two decades of her life living in a New York hospital.
The current court battle comes eight months after Clark’s distant relatives – many of whom she had never met – won a $34.5million settlement in a separate legal fight over her two contesting wills.
In a new court battle over the late Huguette Clark’s $300million fortune, executors of her will have claimed that the reclusive heiress was ‘insane’
Now the executors of her estate are going after $105million in gifts that Clark gave to doctors and employees in her last 20 years, claiming that she did not know what she was doing.
Lawyers for Beth Israel Hospital, where Clark lived for 20 years, said the insanity claim was ‘a measure of their desperation’, according to court papers seen by the New York Post.
However the executors’ lawyer John Morken said his clients simply want to show that the elderly lady was ‘incapacitated’, according to the Post.
According to court papers, Mr Morken claimed that when Clark moved into the hospital in 1991, she was an ‘eccentric recluse’ living in a dirty bathrobe and weighed just 75lb.
A judge has yet to make the decision on the insanity claim.
Clark was the daughter of copper magnate Senator William A Clark. After losing her father, then her 16-year-old sister to meningitis and a failed marriage, she withdrew from public life. She spent decades out of the public eye, designing doll houses and painting exquisite works of art.
It was announced in March that Eat Pray Love director Ryan Murphy had bought the film rights to Clark’s bizarre life, following the book ‘Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune’ by Pullitzer prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman.
Miss Clark owned apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, pictured, which took up an entire floor. Despite this home, she lived in hospitals for 20 years
Despite owning properties on Fifth Avenue and in California and Connecticut, Clark elected to live in Beth Israel hospital for her last two decades. She met only with close friends, advisers and a nurse.
Beautiful: Huguette Clark retreated from public life when she was still a young woman. When she passed away, she was estimated to have a $300 million fortune
Just before Clark’s death, distant relatives began questioning how her lawyer and accountant were handling her affairs – particularly after a will cut them out – and a criminal investigation was launched.
The relatives also argued that she had given hefty gifts to her advisers, doctors and carers, suggesting that they had manipulated her – but they argued that she was simply giving generously to the people in her life.
The argument was settled in September and the relatives – many of whom had never even met Clark – walked away with the largest payout, while her devoted nurse was left with nothing.
More recently, prosecutors failed to find evidence of criminal conduct towards her, instead discovering that Clark’s extravagant gifts were made in her own steady handwriting or with her written authorization.
No criminal charges were filed against Attorney Wallace Bock and accountant Irving H. Kamsler, who all along denied any wrongdoing, and the investigation closed earlier this year.
The investigation, carried out by two detectives and a forensic accountant, found that Clark’s extravagant gifts were made in her own steady handwriting or with her written authorization.
Documents and testimony also showed that Clark was not kept from her relatives, NBC reported, but instead made her own decisions about whom to speak with in person or by phone.
A neurologist who testified in the investigation visited Clark in 2005, six months after she signed the second will. She said that the then-99-year-old seemed alert.
‘She seemed cute as pie,’ Dr. Louise Klebanoff testified. ‘Perfectly content.’
Attorneys for Bock and Kamsler told NBC that their clients were satisfied because they had always worked within Clark’s interests. But a settlement last year ruled that they were not to receive the huge sums of money left to them by Clark.
Heiress: Huguette Clark, pictured, inherited her fortune from her industrialist father, William A. Clark, right
The settlement combined elements from the two contradictory wills.
The family – many of whom Clark never even met – came out as the winners, receiving $34 million while her private nurse of 20 years, Hadassah Peri, was left with nothing.
Peri, an immigrant from the Philippines who worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for Clark as she lived in New York hospitals, had originally been given $30 million in Clark’s final will.
Peri had also been given $30 million in gifts throughout Clark’s life. A separate deal ordered her to pay $5 million of these back to the estate after the attorney general’s office deemed them excessive.
However, the settlement stopped Clark’s relatives trying to get any more of these gifts.
While the Bock and Kamsler missed out on their payouts, the settlement also disposed of all potential legal claims against the pair, in relation to mistakes they allegedly made – such as failing to video her signing the will, and failing to claim gift tax returns for seven years.