Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The New York Times, February 22, 1964

Humorist's $867,565 Is Put Into New Trust Fund 54 Years After His Death

Special to The New York Times

REDDING, Conn., Feb. 21 - The 54-year-old estate of Mark Twain received its final accounting today before a probate judge who was a small boy here when the famous author was the town's leading citizen.

Judge Hjalmar Anderson approved the termination of a trust fund created by Twain before his death here in 1910. The judge then authorized a new trust fund under which income payments will be made to the author's granddaughter and her stepfather.

The estate of Samuel L. Clemens, as it is termed legally, was closed out as the result of he death on Nov. 19, 1962, of Twain's daughter, Mrs. Clara Clemens Samossoud of San Diego, Calif. The new trust was established by Mrs. Samossoud's will.

The final accounting was made by the Twain estate's two trustees, Thomas G. Chamberlain, New York lawyer, and the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company. It showed that the estate totaled $867,565 as of Sept. 20, 1963. The sum was exclusive of about $61,000 in undistributed income.

The author's granddaughter, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, contested her mother's will in the Fairfield County Superior Court. a settlement was reached recently, however, and today this agreement also received Judge Anderson's approval.

The settlement provides that Jacques Samossoud, husband of Mrs. Samossoud, is to receive 65 per cent of the income from the Samossoud trust while 35 per cent will go to Miss Gabrilowitsch. In addition, Phyllis Harrington, secretary to Mrs. Samossoud, is to receive $300 monthly as an annuity. Before her marriage to Mr. Samossoud, the Twain daughter was the wife of the late Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the pianist and conductor.

Judge Anderson has presided over an annual accounting of the Twain estate in the Redding Town Hall since 1939. He intends to continue the practice with the Samossoud trust, he said today. Mr. Chamberlain, one of the two trustees, drew Mrs. Samossoud's will and also successfully defended the action brought by her daughter.

Judge Anderson noted that a sinking fund established in 1918 to assure continuance of income as Twain copyrights expired had been merged with the new trust fund. It formerly was held separately.

The shaggy-haired author and humorist lived for about four years on his estate, Stormfield. The site is a mile or so away from the Town Hall. Down the road stands a library that commemorates the death of Jean Clemens, another daughter.

Millions Lost in Ventures

When Twain died at the age of 74, his estate was worth about $200,000, according to Mr. Chamberlain. This was only a tiny fraction of the millions he had made in a lifetime of well-compensated writing.

He lost hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in schemes to develop a steam pulley, a cash register, an engraving process and a spiral hat pin - each one an effort to demonstrate that he was a financial genius.

"We are always more anxious to be distinguished for a talent which we do not possess," he ruefully admitted in his autobiography.

Twain's most serious business reverse, which put him into bankruptcy, was his loss of almost $200,000 on a primitive typesetting machine. In this as in other ventures, he seemed unable to heed the words he had put into the mouth of Pudd'nhead Wilson, one of his characters:

"There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate - when he can afford it, and when he can't."

Return to The New York Times index

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search