Huguette Clark may be the wealthiest person you’ve never heard of. She’s certainly one of the most mysterious. The 104-year-old heiress owns sprawling estates in California and Connecticut, as well as one of the largest apartments on New York’s Fifth Avenue. But, according to a very buzzy report from NBC’s “The Today Show,” Ms. Clarke hasn’t been seen at her homes in decades.

Reporters Bill Dedman and Bob Dotson investigated her whereabouts and found that Ms. Clarke now spends her time in a “drab” hospital room. Those ordinary surroundings stand in stark contrast to her fortune, which came largely from her father, Senator William Andrews Clark of Montana. He owned mines, railroads, and banks, and passed it along to Huguette. Check out the NBC clip below…

Of course, the world is full of once-great estates that have gone to seed. Ms. Clarke’s homes are not to be included. Her $100 million Santa Barbara home (named “Bellosguardo”) where she hasn’t visited in decades, has been kept up beautifully. As for her Connecticut mansion, it’s as immaculate as it is untouched. Believe it or not, Ms. Clarke has never even visited it.

She apparently elected to move to the unnamed hospital to be more comfortable. Other details are scant. Web searches, on the other hand, are anything but. The story on Ms. Clarke sparked a tremendous amount of online interest. Lookups on “huguette clark pictures” and “huguette clark mansions” both surged over 1,000%. Related queries for “huguette clark heirs” also soared.

Relatives and former acquaintances explain that Ms. Clarke changed drastically after her mother passed away. She withdrew from society and chose never to come back. That absence won’t stop the searches, though. As is often the case online, the less information there is, the more people want to know.

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