Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Manipulating Gift Giving

Haguette Clark in 1930
A court appointed official that oversees copper heiress Huguette Clark's estate wants the money back.  It seems this elderly, eccentric multimillionaire showered her private nurse with $28 million in real estate, jewelry, checks and other gifts.  The nurse, Hadassah Peri made a salary of $131,000/year in addition to the "gifts".  Her immediate family received another $3 million.  Other nurses and doctors that cared for her received more than $4 million and she even paid one doctor's malpractice insurance.

Mrs. Clark was frail and reclusive and died at age 104.  Her lawyer and accountant have both come under scrutiny for their management of her affairs and their own large gifts bestowed by this woman.  They were both suspended by a judge from further overseeing her estate.

Huguette Clark was the daughter of a wealthy Montana senator who mined copper, built railroads and founded Las Vegas.  She spent the last 20 years of her life in two Manhattan hospitals, finally dying at Beth Israel Medical Center.    Prior to going to the hospital in 1991, she weighed 75 lbs and lived in a disheveled apartment illuminated by a single candle.  She refused to go home and reportedly paid the hospital $400,000 a year to care for her.

The public administrator on the case said the heiress suffered from various physical and mental infirmities and was not of sound mind to be changing her will and distributing money.

Was she exploited by those who were in her inner circle or was she just  generous?  Nurse Peri's attorney said "This was a very generous woman who made gifts to people she rarely or never saw so it's absurd to think that she would not give gifts to the individuals who worked with her."

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