Speaking of unusual endings to the California real estate fortunes of somewhat reclusive copper heiresses: at some point in the early 1990s, soon after she moved into her $829/day hospital room with Central Park views, Huguette Clark’s Degas, Dancer Making Points, above, was stolen from her Fifth Avenue apartment. Clark didn’t want a scene, so she said do nothing, though someone called the Feds anyway, because they knew. It got fenced to Peter Findlay Gallery, where Henry & Marion Bloch, of the H&R Blocks, bought it in 1993.
In 2007, after an auction house and the FBI tracked it down, and the Blochs were resistant to give up their good faith purchase, and Clark, 98, was not interested in the attention of a lawsuit, the Blochs proposed a solution: Clark would donate the Degas to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, where the Blochs had already pledged their Impressionist collection; she’d get the $10 million tax deduction; and they’d borrow it back from the museum until their deaths. And all of this would be completely secret.
Bill Dedman of MSNBC, who broke the whole Huguette Clark story, described the handoff that was required to make it happen:
In October 2008, on a clear but crisp Monday at the Bloch home in Mission Hills, Kansas, a Bloch representative handed the ballerina in the gilded frame to Clark’s attorney, who walked out to the car and handed it to a representative of the museum, who then handed it back to the representative of the Blochs, and back on the wall it went.
Clark had two other requests: 1) that the Corcoran Gallery, which held many artworks from her father’s collection, and where she once showed her own paintings, be permitted to borrow the Degas up to three times. [It never happened before the Corcoran closed in 2014, and it’s not clear whether the offer extended to the National Gallery, which took all the Corcoran art it wanted.] and 2) that Clark receive a full-scale photograph of the work. Which she did. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
Previously, related: Huguette Clark Paintings??