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Judge Rules Against Lawsuit Claiming Hospital Manipulated Heiress into Donating $3.5 Million Manet

Relatives of copper heiress Huguette Clark have lost a lawsuit asserting that the hospital Beth Israel Medical Center manipulated Clark in her final years to make $4 million in gifts to the hospital, including a painting by Edouard Manet. In 2011, Clark, who passed away at age 104, had no close relatives, spending the last nineteen years of her life at the hospital, according to the New York Times’ James C. McKinley Jr.

Last week, the judge dismissed the estate’s claims against the hospital, but ruled that a separate lawsuit could move forward against two doctors and a nurse who took care of Clark in her later years, receiving around $3.6 million from her.

After Clark was originally hospitalized, she worked out an arrangement that allowed her to stay in her ward, paying $1,200 a day for her room, according to the New York Times’ Anemona Hartocollis. A doctor informed the development office that Clark was “quite wealthy and suggested that she might make a gift to the hospital.”

In 2000, she donated Manet’s Pivoines dans une bouteille (Peonies in a Bottle), 1864. When the painting sold far under its expected price, one doctor sent an internal memo that read: “I told her about the disappointing price of the painting, but she didn’t take the bait and offer a half-dozen more.”

In 2013, heirs filed a separate lawsuit regarding two different wills she had left. One left the majority of her $300-million fortune to her family; the later will bequeathed her money to various people around her, including her nurse, her doctor, her attorney, and her accountant—and also to a newly established arts foundation. That suit was ultimately settled out of court.

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