Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Empty Mansions; the Life of Huguette Clark and Her Doll Collection
>Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune Hardcover– Deckle Edge by Bill Dedman(Author),Paul Clark Newell Jr.(Author)/206 customer reviews The above is the new biography about the mysterious heiress with the million dollar doll collection. Antique Week has a great article about her and the dolls. At first, the dolls, estimated to be worth about $1.7 million dollars, were willed to her private nurse. Then, in an ongoing dispute I documented on my blogs through articles, the will was intrepreted differently after numerous relatives and claimants crawled out of the dollhouse woodwork. Now, the dolls and one mansion are part of nonprofit foundation being set up. However, the IRS is claiming penalites for assorted tax errors, and has dibs on everything, so the legendary dolls may be sold. The inventory is staggering, as alluded to in Antique Week. There were hundreds o prime French dolls from Au Nain Bleu, but he media coverage showed modern porcelain dolls in stone bisque from Asia, and vinyl play dolls from the sixties and seventies as well. Even into her 80s, Ms. Clark bought through Theriaults and other auction houses, and spent over $18,000 for one or two dolls at a time. I'm glad to know she was not a doll snob, at least. She was meticulous about her doll houses and their inhabitants and was known to ask for doll houses to be remodeled to fit her chosen doll house families, or even to refuse a house that did not live up to its expectations. She reminds me of me when I was ten or so, and the doll house family was made up of many dolls, some who were not to scale, but who were always welcome, wherever they fit. I had doll house editions on shelves under desks, under tables, in boxes adjacent to the "main" house. Dalton Abbey had nothing over us. It would be lovely to keep this collection in tact. So many great collections, historically relevant, have been broken up and sold, never to be chronicled or viewed again as a whole. If we had the funds, we'd take in all the Clark orphans. I call on The National Toy Hall of Fame and The House on the Rock to take notice! People often comment on the money Clark, a millionaire many times over, spent on dolls. It was her money, I'd like to add. She preserved images of the past and curated them for future reference. They will never be assembled this way again. Historians and students of Material Culture should thank her. There are worse things one can spend money on, and Ms Clark was also known for her generosity in giving dolls to others. I will read this new book; I hope it is not another book length indictment of a collector's "eccentricity," or literary gawking at someone else's wealth. It will be in the next edition of my Doll Source bibliography, and look for further stories on this and my other blogs. Forgive typos, hand injuries acting up, and I need new glasses :). May the best doll go to you.