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Inside Bellosguardo, a reclusive heiress' historic home

Bellosguardo, a reclusive heiress' historic home
Bellosguardo, a reclusive heiress' historic home 02:23

It's the talk of Santa Barbara: What has become of the hideaway on the hill?

Set high above 1,000 feet of coastline, Bellosguardo (Italian for "beautiful lookout") was purchased by copper magnate, Senator William Clark, in 1923. He died two years later. 

The Italianate home on the 23-acre property was then torn down, and in 1933, Clark's widow, Anna, built the lavish, solid-concrete home that remains today.

Built in the 1930s, high above the Santa Barbara coast, the home made famous in the bestselling "Empty Mansions" was a summer residence of Huguette Clark, who didn't set foot on the property for several decades.  CBS News

One of the richest families of the Gilded Age, the Clarks - including daughter, Huguette - used the home solely as a summer getaway. The shy Huguette took to art, spending her sun-filled days painting.

An interior view of Bellosguardo.  CBS News

Mysteriously, the family last visited Bellosguardo in 1953. Ten years later, when Huguette inherited the 23-acre estate, she gave the staff instructions to never change a thing. Custom coverings protected the furniture, as the house sat empty for nearly 70 years, costing some $40,000 a month to maintain. 

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Huguette never returned to Santa Barbara. She spent much of her later life in a New York hospital, dying in 2011 at 104

Since then, intrigue has grown over what will happen to Bellosguardo, after a New York Times bestselling book, "Empty Mansions."

Today, some of Huguette's paintings are on display in a new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum; and later this year, the foundation that now runs Bellosguardo will open the doors for the first time for public tours, finally giving folks a chance to see "the beautiful lookout" for themselves.

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Story produced by Jon Carras. Editor: George Pozderec. 

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