An Evening with the Author

The library at Bellosguardo, the Clark summer home in Santa Barbara, California, c. 1940. The hundreds of bound leather volumes include works by Dante, Goethe, Homer, Virgil, Maupassant, Dickens, Tennyson, Thackeray, Voltaire, Faust, Milton, Cervantes, Conrad. Although no one from the immediate family has visited since the early 1950s, the house man dusts and turns the books periodically.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bill Dedman will discuss heiress Huguette Clark, the issues surrounding her life story, her exquisite Santa Barbara estate Bellosguardo, and controversial estate settlement that continues to unfold.  His No. 1 New York Time best- selling biography, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, is now in its 13th printing.

Guests will enjoy a lively discussion at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and a rare chance to view one of Huguette Clark’s own paintings.  Guests will begin with a reception followed by the talk.  Special thank you to Bill Dedman! Click here to book your reservation!

Empty Mansions is a nonfiction history/biography of a remarkable American family, from the father W.A. Clark, who discovered incredible riches in copper during the Civil War and founded Las Vegas, to his last surviving daughter, Huguette, who held a ticket on the Titanic and was still alive in New York City on 9/11. Investigative reporter Bill Dedman stumbled onto the story, discovering that Huguette’s fantastic estates were unoccupied while she lived out her last twenty years in a simple hospital room. Dedman has co-written the book with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have conversations with her.

Empty Mansions was published in September 2013 by Ballantine Books (Random House), and reached No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It was named on best-of-the-year lists from Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and, and on the year-end favorites list from New York Times book critic Janet Maslin. It has stayed on the bestseller lists from The New York Times for thirteen weeks, and The Los Angeles Times list for thirty-six.

Empty Mansions is a mystery of wealth and loss — and a secretive heiress. In a story that spans nearly all of American history in three generations, Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the talented daughter, born into a family of fortune and privilege, who hides herself from the outside world. The authors reveal a complex portrait of the enigmatic Huguette and her intimate circle — including her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune.  Carefully drawn from interviews with Huguette, her personal papers, and testimony of her inner circle, Empty Mansions has been updated with the outcome of the court battle for her estate. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions is the story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms.