COCKTALES | Filipina nurse in NY, who inherited $60M from reclusive heiress, revealed in new book

File photo of Filipina-American nurse Gicela Oloroso, who is known by her Jewish name Hadassah Peri. (Photo credit: Peri family) means BUSINESS

The identity of the Filipina-American nurse who received houses and cars worth $30 million and who stands to inherit another $30 million in cash from a copper-mining heiress has finally been revealed in a forthcoming book about the fabulous wealth and the reclusive life of the nurse's generous mistress. 

The 58-year-old nurse had been previously identified by her Jewish name, Hadassah Peri, but Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, NBC Universal investigative reporter Bill Dedman, has found out that she was born in the town of Sapian in Capiz as Gicela Oloroso, with her father as a former vice mayor also of the same fishing town.

Cover of 'Empty Mansions', by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. Published by Ballantine Books

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Oloroso converted to Orthodox Judaism when she met and married in 1982 an Israeli immigrant and New York taxi driver, Daniel Peri.

Oloroso was assigned to care for the childless Huguette Clark by an agency in 1991, and became a "friend and loyal companion," according to the copper-mining heiress's will, until "Mrs. Clark" died in 2011, aged 104, after spending decades in hospitals despite excellent health.

"When she was assigned to Huguette, the Peris (Oloroso and husband) owned a small apartment in Brooklyn," said Dedman in his new book, Empty Mansions, which he collaborated with Clark nephew Paul Newell Jr. By the time Mrs. Clark passed away, the Peris owned seven residences -- "all but the first apartment had been bought by Huguette."

The properties include two apartments at the Gatsby, a pre-war building on East Ninety-Sixth Street in Manhattan with views of Central Park, with Mrs. Clark also taking care of the association dues and taxes for the units.

"She paid for twenty years of schooling for the three Peri children...for their medical bills, piano lessons, violin lessons, and Hebrew lessons, their basketball and summer camps in upstate New York," wrote Dedman. "When the Peris had some trouble with back taxes, she paid for that" as well.

In return, Oloroso, classified as a temp worker, hardly took a day-off in her two decades of service with Mrs. Clark.

Huguette Clark. Courtesy of The Estate of Huguette M. Clark.

"So despite the Orthodox prohibition on working on Saturday, and despite having three school-age children, for many years (Oloroso) worked for Huguette from 8 am to 8 pm, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year," Dedman said. "She was up and out of the house before her children left for school and home close to bedtime," come rain or shine.

The children, on the other hand, ran errands for Huguette, "finding Japanese art books she asked for and ordering jewelry from Gump's San Francisco, which she liked to give away to the children of doctors and nurses," Dedman said.

Mrs. Clark also was generous with her cash with Oloroso's children, writing over $1.9 million in checks to the three kids from 1996 through 2011. She also paid $35,000 in medical bills for Oloroso's older son, as well as giving money for Oloroso's brother, who had trouble finding work.

As well, Mrs. Clark underwrote a series of new cars the Peris had acquired over the years, each one about twice as expensive as the last: a Lincon Navigator, a Hummer and finally a 2001 Bentley Arnage Le Mans, one of only 150 in the world.

"The former taxi driver Daniel Peri was now driving a Bentley," wrote Dedman, failing to contain his sarcasm.

The book does quote Oloroso as being unhappy with the fastest four-door sedan in the world, saying the Bentley was not a practical car in Brooklyn.

"To tell you the truth, we never enjoy this car," Oloroso told Dedman. "So expensive to repair -- you scare something going to bang it. It is hell. I cannot drive it. My kids don't enjoy it. You are scared somebody going to steal it. I don't know why we buy this stupidity, you know."

Empty Mansions will be released on Sept. 10 and will immediately be available digitally to Philippine readers through Amazon.

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