The heiress who willed her Filipino nurse $37 million

This article is more than 12 months old

She was so wealthy she could have toured the world many times over, held extravagant parties every night and led a flamboyant lifestyle. But Huguette Clark did none of those.

Instead, the heiress lived the life of a recluse, shunning fame and the public eye.

When she died at the grand old age of 104 in May 2011, Ms Clark left a stunning US$30 million (S$37m) to her caretaker Hadassah Peri, reported NBC News. That worked out to US$15m after taxes. 

But the Filipino nurse had to return the money after relatives, who had never met Ms Clark, won a 2013 court case that gave them most of the fortune, reported Vanity Fair

Ms Clark had inherited the equivalent of £600 million (S$1.3 billion) in 1925, according to Mirror.

Mrs Hadassah Peri (above) said she was blessed to have met Ms Clark.

Generous woman

Ms Clark, who was born in 1906, began shutting herself away after her brief marriage ended in divorce. She did not meet with her relatives and was last photographed in her 20s.

In 1991, she checked into a private hospital and never checked out even after she was well. It was there that she met Ms Hadassah, 64, and became close to her.

The duo spent 12 hours every day of the week together.

The Mirror reported the nurse as saying: "Sometimes I would say,‘You gave me a cheque already today’. But she would say: ‘You have a lot of expense, you can use it’. I accepted the cheques because we have a lot of bills. Madam is very generous. I don’t ask for it."

Raised a ruckus

When Ms Clark died, her relatives raised a ruckus over the will. Despite having never met the heiress, they wanted 75 per cent of her US$400 million estate, reported Mirror.

Mrs Hadassah eventually returned the US$30 million as well as some gifts. She had received more than US$30 million in gifts the 20 years she attended to Ms Clark. These gifts included seven houses, six cars including a Bentley, a Stradivarius violin and cash. 


Mrs Hadassah reportedly received three cheques like the one above for US$5 million.

Author Bill Dedman, who has written Empty Mansions, a book about Ms Clark​’s remarkable life, told Mirror: “Huguette thought her family were just out for her wealth. Of course, she was right. They never reached out to her while she was alive – they only reached out for her money after she died.”​

Sources: Mirror, The Wall Street Journal,, Vanity Fair, NBC News, NY Post

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