Huguette kept her location secret for nearly twenty years, never telling any relative or anyone outside her inner circle that she was in the hospital. All of her outgoing correspondence showed 907 Fifth Avenue as her return address.
Though she was no longer living in Apartment 8W, Huguette set to work remodeling it—not to modernize it, but to furnish it so it looked more like her old apartment, 12W. Her main focus was on making her bedroom identical to her mother’s old bedroon from the 1920s, which remained undisturbed in the apartment upstairs.
For fifty dollars in tips, she could easily have gotten the doormen to carry the bedroom furniture from the twelfth floor to the eighth. But then, well, the furniture would no longer be in 12W.
Instead, Huguette approached a French furniture company, the renowned Pernault Workshops, with a request that it find original French pieces of the Louis XV period. Yes, the company explained, it might be able to find matching furniture, but the cost would be “staggering.” A rolltop desk in the Louis XV style could cost 10 million francs, or about $1.8 million. An alternative plan was offered by Pernault, one that could be accomplished for “a reasonable price.” It could make reproductions. Huguette agreed.
The invoices from 1991-92 show the enormous expenditures for “the making and delivering of the copies of your own furniture.” For a Louis XV dressing table with three oval mirrors, a three-drawer commode table, two bedside tables, and a rolltop desk, all in solid oak, lavishly engraved and gilded, with floral inlaid wood and bronze trim, Mrs. Huguette M. Clark paid 2,497,000 francs, or $445,893. And those are 1991 dollars, equal to nearly $800,000 today.
This was merely the beginning. For her bedroom, she ordered green silk draperies and a sumptuous green silk damask bedspread with matching cover for a bolster pillow, in a pattern showing Japanese musicians, just like her mother’s. These items cost 897,000 francs, or $160,178. The Louis XV mantelpiece in the bedroom of Apartment 12W was removed, copied, and reattached, with the copy installed in Apartment 8W.
AU told, over three years, she spent $4.3 million on the renovation, equal to more than $7 million today. Without updating the bathrooms or kitchens.
For nearly two decades, you could walk into the bedrooms of 12W and 8W, both overlooking the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventy-Second Street, and see the same oak furniture, the same elaborate mantel, the same luxurious green silk damask bedspread. Aside from a slight difference in the placement of the doors and the radio cabinet in the closet, you couldn’t begin to guess what floor you were on.
During that time, Huguette never spent a night there, never walked into either bedroom, seeing the results of the renovation only in photographs
Brought to her hospital room.