The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark

by Meryl Gordon


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From New York Times bestselling author Meryl Gordon, the definitive biography of Huguette Clark, who went from being one of the wealthiest and most famous Jazz Age socialites to spending the last twenty years of her life hiding out in hospitals.

Born in 1906, Huguette Clark grew up in her family's 121-room Beaux Arts mansion in New York and was one of the leading celebrities of her day. Her father William Andrews Clark, was a copper magnate, the second richest man in America, and not above bribing his way into the Senate.

Huguette attended the coronation of King George V. And at twenty-two with a personal fortune of $50 million to her name, she married a Princeton man and childhood friend William MacDonald Gower. Two-years later the couple divorced. After a series of failed romances, Huguette began to withdraw from society—first living with her mother in a kind of Grey Gardens isolation then as a modern-day Miss Havisham, spending her days in a vast apartment overlooking Central Park, eating crackers and watching The Flintstones with only servants for company.

All her money and all her real estate could not protect her in her later life from being manipulated by shady hangers-on and hospitals that were only too happy to admit (and bill) a healthy woman. But what happened to Huguette that turned a vivacious, young socialite into a recluse? And what was her life like inside that gilded, copper cage?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455512652
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 276,000
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Meryl Gordon is the New York Times bestselling author of Bunny Mellon and Mrs. Astor Regrets. She is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor to Vanity Fair. She is on the graduate journalism faculty at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is considered an expert on elder abuse and has appeared on NPR, CNN, and other outlets whenever there is a high-profile case.

Table of Contents

Character List ix

Family Tree xii

Chapter 1 The Clark Family Reunion at the Corcoran 1

Chapter 2 The Quest for "Tante Huguette" 13

Chapter 3 Huguette's Walk in Central Park 27

Chapter 4 The Copper King 38

Chapter 5 The Reinvention of Anna 52

Chapter 6 A Parisian Girlhood 71

Chapter 7 The Fractured Fairy Tale 91

Chapter 8 Beginnings and Endings 112

Chapter 9 Society Girl 135

Chapter 10 Alone Again 153

Chapter 11 Facts, Fiction, and Betrayal 170

Chapter 12 The Lady Vanishes 197

Chapter 13 A Change of Address 225

Chapter 14 The Constant Companion 241

Chapter 15 The Great Giveaway 262

Chapter 16 The Long Good-bye 286

Chapter 17 The Battle for Huguette's Fortune 317

Acknowledgments 347

Sources 351

Bibliography 365

Index 367

About the Author 379

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