UPPER EAST SIDE — The administrator of the $17.5 million estate of a deceased Manhattan socialite rumored to have gotten pregnant by President John F. Kennedy is checking to see if she did indeed have his love child, court records show.
Administrator Leonard Boehner and his lawyers recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI asking for any files on Alicia Corning Clark in hopes that the agency’s records will shed light on her relationship with JFK.
Boehner and his attorneys started the hunt because estate administrators are required to look for any unknown children or heirs so they can be represented in surrogate's court proceedings and have an opportunity to contest a will.
As part of their search, Boehner and his lawyers also tracked down a scandalous court case involving Clark — a thrice-married globetrotting enchantress — that had been sealed for 40 years.
DNAinfo New York also obtained a copy of the once-sealed case, which didn’t reveal a love child with Kennedy, but did allude to an affair between the two.
In the never-before-published court files, Clark’s former lawyer dishes about her dalliances and scheming in the early 1960s, including how she planned to hit JFK’s Camelot with a battering ram of bad publicity if she didn’t get money from the family.
The ex-lawyer, Simon Metrik, who had sued Clark for $1.2 million in unpaid legal fees, said in the documents that she intended to let information about her fling with Kennedy become public if the president's father didn’t pay her $250,000.
Metrik "dissuaded [Clark] from attempting to blackmail and extort from Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of the President of the United States," the court documents said. He also talked her out of writing an article about her relationship with Kennedy.
As DNAinfo previously reported, Clark died at 79 on Feb. 10, leaving behind at least $17.5 million, including a swanky Upper East Side apartment where she spent her final years and a mansion in the Bahamas. She had no apparent children or any living relatives at the time of her death.
Boehner, a lawyer for Clark who helped her write a will in 2004, was named the preliminary executor of her estate by a Manhattan Surrogate's Court judge in March. As the executor, he has a fiduciary responsibility to determine if Clark had any kids.
Boehner and his lawyers decided to check if Clark did have a child out of wedlock with Kennedy because of journalist Seymour Hersh’s book “The Dark Side of Camelot,” which explores the unglamorous side of the president and his Boston dynasty.
Hersh details in the book how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had sent memos to Robert Kennedy in 1963 warning him about a court case involving Clark that had information about her and the president that endangered his reelection.
He also wrote in his book that shadowy political operatives tried to peddle information to Republicans in Washington about Kennedy impregnating Clark before his first presidential campaign.
In an affidavit filed June 30 in Manhattan Surrogates Court, Boehner stated he had submitted a Freedom of Information request to the FBI, which will release files it maintains on people after they have died.
“As part of his due diligence responsibility as the preliminary and duly nominated executor of the estate of Alicia Corning Clark, Leonard B. Boehner filed the affidavit to apprise the court of the comprehensive steps he was taking, in accordance with his fiduciary duty, to determine if Mrs. Clark had any next of kin," Boehner's attorney, Richard J. Miller Jr. said in a statement to DNAinfo.
The affidavit included a copy of the Freedom of Information request, in which Boehner states to the FBI that he wants any documents that would help him determine whether Clark had any children.
“This is a subject which was dealt with in a book authored by Seymour Hersh, who apparently received a number of documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to an investigation into a relationship between Alicia Corning Clark and then President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s,” Boehner said in his request.
The search for a Kennedy love child is one more highlight to Clark’s colorful life.
A Polish refugee who moved to Boston after World War II, Clark described herself as an artist and actress, but her main talent seemed to be hobnobbing with celebrities, heads of state and Manhattan social elite.
Her beauty attracted some of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Dates with those leading men became fodder for gossip columnists such as Walter Winchell.
Clark married three times — her first was to British actor Edmund Purdom, with whom she moved to Rome.
During that marriage, she gave an interview to an Italian magazine claiming Kennedy had proposed to her but his dad forced him to call off the engagement because she was Jewish.
The marriage crumbled after three years, and in 1961 Clark was back living in New York. Before her divorce was finalized, she was dating Alfred Corning Clark, the heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune.
She and Alfred Clark married in September 1961, but not before she had her lawyer Metrik negotiate a will with her husband-to-be that guaranteed her a sizeable inheritance.
The will paid off — Alfred Clark died of cirrhosis of the liver 13 days after they married. Alicia Clark eventually inherited $10 million from her husband.
It’s Metrik’s legal work helping to arrange Alfred Clark’s will and the counsel he provided Alicia Clark after his death that became the subject of the sealed court case.
In December 1961, Metrik and Clark had a falling out. He claimed that she owed him $1.2 million in legal fees for his work.
When she refused to pay, Metrik filed a lawsuit seeking the money.
As part of that lawsuit, Metrik and his lawyer, Jacob W. Friedman, filed a bill of particulars that vividly recounted Metrik’s services to Clark.
That bill led the Appellate Division of the state’s court system to start a disciplinary proceeding against Metrik and Friedman for providing “scandalous and libelous” details and privileged client information in order for the press to see.
The press never saw the bill, but it was scandalous. Metrik described Clark as money hungry and being preoccupied with her romance with a French actor in the days after her husband's death. Metrik, who had known Clark for more than a decade, also said in the bill that she had worked as a prostitute.
But the biggest bombshell was her proposed shakedown of the Kennedys.
Metrik said in the bill that, at the time of her marriage to Alfred Clark, she was still in the process of getting a divorce from Purdom in Europe.
While waiting for her inheritance from her dead husband, she was cash-strapped and considered seeking alimony from Purdom, according to Metrik.
However, if Clark sought alimony, Purdom threatened to list John F. Kennedy as a co-respondent in the divorce because of their affair, the bill said.
“She was thinking of blackmailing the father of the president saying that she could induce her previous husband not to name the president as correspondent in a divorce action,” Friedman later told the disciplinary committee. “She had that blackmail plan in mind and Mr. Metrik with great difficulty dissuaded her from carrying that out.”
The bill also said that in September 1961 the gossip magazine Hush-Hush published a story about Clark and Kennedy, and depicted Clark “as an unscrupulous adventuress.”
“She wanted me to refute this and state that these people were distorting the facts, but that she actually had a legitimate relationship which she wanted me to pursue,” Metrik later told the disciplinary committee.
Even more intriguing, Metrik also told the disciplinary committee that there was plenty more details about Clark that he could have included in the bill but didn't.
Ultimately, the disciplinary committee censured Metrik and Friedman on June 4, 1963, and sealed the case.
Hersh tried to get the case unsealed in 1996, but an appellate court denied his request.
The case only became public when the wife and son of Friedman petitioned the appellate division to unseal it.
They claimed that the popularity of Hersh’s book had cast doubt on Friedman’s character. They wanted to see the case to prove that Friedman had acted ethically.
Despite it being unsealed, the case continued to collect dust until Boehner and his lawyers sought it out last month.
There have been many rumors of a JFK love child or children in the decades since his death.
Most recently, Jack Worthington, a Texas-born financier living in Canada, claimed in 2008 he was Kennedy's illegitimate son. His family denied his claims, and a DNA test conducted by Vanity Fair showed no connection between him and Kennedy.
The chances of Boehner finding a love child seem low.
In an interview for Hersh’s book, Clark denied having a child out of wedlock with Kennedy. Also, many of the people who might have details — likely Metrik — have died.
Even if a love child is found, he or she won't necessarily get any of Clark's sizeable fortune.
As DNAinfo reported in May, a legal battle has broken out over her estate.
Clark's longtime Bahamian assistant Dwayne Finley has challenged Boehner’s appointment as the preliminary executor in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court. He also called the Boehner will — which leaves Clark’s fortune to the Humane Society — a fake.
Finley claims that the real Clark will is one that she handwrote in the Bahamas in 2001. In that will, she leaves $3 million to three doormen at her Fifth Avenue apartment, $1 million to the caretaker of her property in the Bahamas and the remainder of the fortune to Finley.
Boehner has called that will a fake and has challenged its validity in a Bahamian court.