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TOURIST ATTRACTION

Clark Estate
updated: Jan 15, 2011, 9:00 AM

By the dedicated staff

You can't visit there, or even really see the property unless you are on a boat off the coast or an airplane overhead, but the Clark Estate has attracted perhaps the most attention of any local property - even more than Oprah's house - in the last half-century. It sounds like something out of a mystery story: A palatial estate on prime real estate sits untouched for half a century. Reportedly, dedicated staff members have kept the estate in shape in case the owner, now 104-year-old Huguette Clark, decide to visit at any given moment.

Unseen in public for years, Ms. Clark is reportedly in ailing health and the handling of her financial affairs came under intense scrutiny in 2010.

The estate is located between East Beach and the Santa Barbara Cemetery, on a hilltop, with views of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the mountains on the other. It is aptly named "Bellosguardo" - translation - beautiful view. It is directly across Cabrillo Boulevard from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge; a piece of property donated to the City of Santa Barbara by the Clark family, and named in honor of Ms. Clark's late sister, who died of meningitis when she was quite young. A local estate manager has reportedly never met the heiress. She hasn't visited there in a half-century.

Ms. Clark's father earned his money in the copper mines of Montana in the late 19th century and was quite elderly when Huguette was born.

Locals have long speculated about the fate of the property after Ms. Clark's death. She has no children and no direct family heirs. A brief marriage ended in divorce in 1930. Photos of her show a longhaired woman with wide, child-like eyes. An unusual attachment to her late mother is detailed in a recent news report.

Whether the estate will be donated to the public or to a charity, or sold to a private owner, it will surely captivate local imaginations for years to come. Ms. Clark has at least two other high-profile properties with multi-million dollar price tags. Bellosguardo is reportedly worth at least $100 million. See more articles and photos about Bellosguardo and Huguette Clark from the Edhat archives

Aerial photo of the estate by John Wiley.

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