Review of The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon

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About The Phantom of Fifth Avenue

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?

My Review

Fabulously fascinating. Comprehensive overview of the obscenely wealthy Clark family as well as focusing on Huguette Clark. Outstandingly written and researched. Those intrigued with the Clark family and of Huguette will enjoy Meryl Gordon’s effort.

Sad story despite claims Huguette was happy, still her actions reveal otherwise. I was appalled but not surprised people exploited Huguette’s generosity and blatantly took advantage of her kindness. This über wealthy woman was by no means greedy rather quite the opposite. An emotionally scared woman preferring to withdrawal from the rugged world. Highly skeptical she would approve of the upcoming film of her life.

About Meryl Gordonmeryl-gordon-1

MMeryl Gordon is the author of The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, as well as the author of Mrs Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of A Family Beyond Reproach. 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.

Published May 27th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing

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