The House of Astor Scandal: Father Against Son

Greed, money, and power versus family. Who wins?

In this tale concerning one of the greatest philanthropic ladies in New York, greed definitely wins out.

Millionaire Brooke Astor ruled the New York social scene for decades. Her late husband, Vincent Astor was the last heir as the descendant of legendary John Jacob Astor who made an amazing fortune by trading fur and by his deals in the New York real estate market. The book The Last Mrs Astor: A New York Story was based on Brooke Astor’s life.

In a shocking lawsuit, Brooke Astor’s grandson Philip Marshall, a college professor, has sued his father Anthony Marshall. Father v. Son, sad sad sad.

Anthony, who was Brooke’s legal guardian, was sued by his son Philip in order to have him removed as guardian due to neglect.

“My father…has turned a blind eye to her, intentionally and repeatedly ignoring her health, safety, personal and household needs,” says Philip Marshall in court documents. He says his father was “engaging in a consistent pattern of enriching himself at the expense of my grandmother.”

Anthony Marshall, who’s a Tony-winning Broadway producer from a previous marriage of Brooke Astor, has denied any mistreatment of his mother. However, research has found a tax return form for that has shown a 2005 income of $2,384,999.92 while having Brooke Russell Astor listed as his employer.

Wife of Oscar de la Renta to be legal guardian

Their endorsement for legal guardian of the Astor estate is for fellow philanthropist Annette de la Renta, who is the wife of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. Even Annette de la Renta has gotten into the act with her affidavit in the case file that claims that “because of the failure of Ms. Astor’s son, Anthony, to spend her money properly, the quality of life of Ms. Astor has been significantly eroded…her life is now restricted to one blue sitting room and her bedroom.”

What do the lawyers say in this House of Astor case?

They have a lot to say actually. Attorney Ira Salzman, who is representing Philip Marshall in the lawsuit, says that “Anthony Marshall has repeatedly refused to use his mother’s great wealth to provide for her basic needs. Mr. Marshall has refused to pay for any new clothing for his mother…the last time new underwear, brassieres, nightgowns and knee-high socks were purchased was in 2004.” He says that one of Astor’s servants would dress her in a scarf but was stopped “because Mr. Marshall was concerned about the $16.00 cleaning bill for each scarf.”

What do people close to Brooke Astor have to say? Who do they support?

Let’s hear from Christopher Ely, who was Astor’s former butler, country home manager, and driver who testified in this case in a written affidavit. “Mr. Anthony Marshall…would complain when he had to replace such things as the roof. He also objected to the costs of maintaining Ms. Astor. I think it is a tragedy that she is not being maintained in the style in which she has lived her entire life for whatever amount of time she has left.”