Unimaginable Wealth Yet Decades of Emptiness: Bellosguardo – A Mansion Frozen in Time

by Carolyn Sotka

Buddy Moffett from EmptyMansionsBook

The Bellosguardo Estate. Photo by Buddy Moffet.

Hidden above one of the most valuable stretches of coastline in California lies a 21,666-square-foot French mansion that has been empty for close to 60 years. Bellosguardo was the summer home of copper heiress Huguette Clark and sits on 23 acres overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

After Huguette’s mother died, she did not return to the estate because her memories were too sad to want to stay there. The last time she visited was in 1953, nearly six decades before her own death in 2011.


A closer view of the estate. Photo by John L. Wiley.

Over the years, Huguette was approached by a number of Hollywood moguls and the Shah of Iran with offers to purchase the estate, but she rebuffed their offers despite the $40,000 per month cost to maintain the estate and grounds. After her death, the mansion was endowed as a foundation to foster the arts with the goal of opening the house and gardens to the public, her wish in honor of her mother.

To see a gallery of the estate visit NBC news.


The mansion has elaborate detail throughout including these curved doors. Photo by Karl Obert.

To learn more about Bellosguardo and Hueguette Clark check out the book by Paul Clark Newell, Jr. “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”. –CS

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