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Socialite Said to Be Living in Squalor

The grandson of Brooke Astor, 104, accuses his father of neglecting the multimillionaire.

July 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — She wears torn nightgowns and sleeps on a couch that smells of urine. Her bland diet includes pureed peas and oatmeal. Her dogs, once a source of comfort, are kept locked in a pantry.

A court filing alleges that this is the life of 104-year-old Brooke Astor, the multimillionaire Manhattan socialite who dedicated much of her vast fortune to promoting culture and alleviating human misery.

She married into a family that at one time was among America's wealthiest and most prominent. Her late husband's father, John Jacob Astor IV, died in the sinking of the Titanic; his grandmother Caroline Astor led New York society for 25 years during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

The court papers, filed last week and reported Wednesday by the Daily News, blame the situation inside Astor's Park Avenue duplex on her only child, Anthony Marshall, 82, who controls her $45-million portfolio.

The accuser is Astor's grandson Philip Marshall. He alleges in a sworn statement that his father "has turned a blind eye to her, intentionally and repeatedly ignoring her health, safety, personal and household needs, while enriching himself with millions of dollars."

The court papers, which were sealed Wednesday, seek to remove Anthony Marshall as legal guardian and replace him with Annette de la Renta, the wife of Oscar de la Renta, and with J.P. Morgan Chase bank.

A call to Anthony Marshall was not immediately returned. The former diplomat and Broadway producer declined to discuss the case with the Daily News, saying it should be left to the court. A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 8.

Philip Marshall's allegations have the backing in sworn statements of such notables as Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller, who both attended Astor's 100th birthday gala.

Astor ran the Astor Foundation after the death of her third husband, Vincent Astor, in 1959.

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