Paul Clark Newell Jr., co-author of the bestselling biography "Empty Mansions," about his cousin Huguette Clark, daughter of Butte Copper King William A. Clark, died on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at a hospital in Escondido, California.
Co-author and journalist Bill Dedman reports that Newell’s siblings and daughter were with him when he died.
Nephew to William Andrews Clark, Newell, 80, took up where his father, Paul Newell Sr., left off, compiling family history of the Copper King and once-U.S. senator.
Huguette Clark died in 2011 at age 104. Clark left behind a fortune of more than $300 million, most of which was donated to charity after a court fight with her distant relatives. Cousin Paul Clark Newell Jr. was not in line to inherit any of her fortune.
William Clark (1839-1925), the controversial millionaire, banker and politician, built the Copper King Mansion, 219 W. Granite St., Butte, for his family. He founded Las Vegas as a stop on his railroad line.
Newell began collaborating with Dedman on “Empty Mansions” after he had already worked for 20 years on a biography of his great uncle.
When media-shy Huguette made the news due to her reclusive habits and a family battle over her fortune, Newell and Dedman took the opportunity to write the book "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune."
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"Paul was a gracious, gentlemanly, and brilliant co-pilot,” said Dedman in a statement released Thursday. “When we began collaborating, my journalist friends warned, don't write a book with a family member!, as they presumed he would want to shape the story to protect the reputations of his famous relatives.
“But Paul was focused on making sure that we told the story accurately and fairly. And that was the right approach. On the day Paul died, I received a copy of our book published in Mandarin, and I will pass that on to Paul's family. He was a dear man."
Paul Clark Newell Jr. was a 1958 graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles. After several executive roles in corporations, including Mattel, he worked as a real estate agent in Warner Springs, California, in the mountains outside of San Diego.
Dedman said Newell's conversations with Huguette, their correspondence, and his collection of family photographs and other research were essential to the biography.
Huguette once allowed Newell a rare private tour of Bellosguardo, her mysterious unused Clark family estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, California.
The book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list in September 2013. It remained on the Times list for 13 weeks and The Los Angeles Times list for 37 weeks.
A memorial service will be planned, said Dedman.