Behind the Fight Over Huguette Clark's Beth Israel Bequest

In 2011, Huguette Clark quietly passed away at Beth Israel Medical Center at the age of 104. Since her passing, her family, which many papers report as not having had contact with the reclusive heiress for many years, has been anything but quiet. More than one year since Clark's death, Ethel J. Griffin, appointed as the temporary executor of Clark's estate by the court, filed court papers demanding that Beth Israel, among others, pay Ms. Clark's bequests back to the estate.

Paying back the $6 million Beth Israel raised from the sale of a Manet painting gifted to the Medical Center by Clark may be easier said — or in this case demanded — than done. This is a time of crisis for many hospitals, as the cost of health care continues to rise and insurance company reimbursements continue to fall. In addition to the $6 million from the Manet sale, Clarks wrote a check for $1 million to the medical center, though it is unclear as to whether the relatives are demanding that money back as well.

Griffin is claiming that Beth Israel and its officials took advantage of Ms. Clark's advanced age and that she suffered from "physical and mental" illnesses, though no medical evidence supports this statement. Beth Israel has not commented on the current litigation regarding Ms. Clark's estate and $7 million in gifts. With an estate valued at an estimated $400 million and the executor potentially collecting over $8 million in fees, you can bet that this case will be litigated for many, many years to come. There are rarely quick and easy solutions when it comes to large sums of money and contested wills. Regrettably, it's the patients that depend on Beth Israel that will potentially be the big losers in this courtroom drama as the hospital struggles with financial burdens that continue to build.