A recently revealed earlier will signed by heiress Huguette Clark, who died in May at 104, puts the possibility of a new California art museum in question.
Clark, a reclusive Manhattan multimillionaire with a Gilded Age copper mining fortune, left part of her estimated $400 million estate to distant relatives in one will, and six weeks later, cut them out completely in a revised will naming other persons and institutions as her beneficiaries, including a museum foundation.
Controlled by her accountant and attorney, the foundation would oversee a new museum, to be housed in Clark's unoccupied $100 million beach bluff estate in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Now, the emergence of the previous will naming her relatives as beneficiaries will likely incur a lengthy and expensive court process.
The relatives accuse Clark's attorney and accountant of undue influence on their elderly family member and say they were denied contact with her. They contest the validity of the second will in which she left about $34 million to her nurse and more than $17 million to her attorney, Wallace Bock, and accountant, Irving Kamsler.
Both Bock and Kamsler are under criminal investigation by the New York DA, according to MSNBC.
Clark's latter will also outlined that her Santa Barbara museum would house her collection of works by the likes of William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, and Renoir.
A sale of the Santa Barbara property and other assets might be a likely scenario if the relatives win their case.