Tuesday, November 27, 2007

brooke astor

NEW YORK (AP) ― The son of philanthropist Brooke Astor and his former lawyer have been indicted on charges apparently stemming from their handling of the late socialite's $198 million estate, an attorney for the lawyer said Monday.

Michael S. Ross, attorney for Francis X. Morrissey Jr., said he received a telephone call from the Manhattan prosecutor's office informing him of the indictments against Morrissey and Anthony D. Marshall.

Ross said that the charges are sealed and that he doesn't know what they were. He said that he thought Marshall, 83, would be arraigned Tuesday, and that Morrissey was out of town and would return later in the week.

Marshall's current lawyer, Kenneth Warner, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Monday. Prosecutors declined to comment.

Marshall is at the center of a family feud that became public about a year before Astor's death in August at age 105. His son, Philip Marshall, claimed his father was enriching himself at the expense of Astor's estate and allowing his grandmother to live in squalor.

Anthony Marshall denied it, but he agreed in October 2006 to step aside as his mother's guardian.

A Manhattan grand jury has heard testimony for almost a month about the district attorney's investigation of how Anthony Marshall and Morrissey managed Astor's estate and related documents.

Philip Marshall, a college professor, has sued both men, accusing them of misappropriating cash, real estate, securities and other property belonging to his grandmother.

Philip Marshall's spokesman Frazier Seitel said his client had testified before the grand jury. Philip Marshall said Monday he did not know his father had been indicted.

Astor was the widow of Vincent Astor, a great-great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, who made a fortune in fur trading and New York real estate.

Anthony Marshall is the son of Brooke Astor's first husband, J. Dryden Kuser, whom she divorced. He took the name of her second husband, stockbroker Charles "Buddie" Marshall, who died in 1952. The marriage to Vincent Astor came a year later.

In the decades after her third husband's death in 1959, Astor gave away nearly $200 million to New York's great cultural institutions and a host of humbler projects, winning a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1998.

In the final year of her life, the nasty family feud over her care was splashed all over the city's tabloids ― including allegations that she was forced to sleep on a couch that smelled of urine while subsisting on a diet of pureed peas and oatmeal.

Anthony Marshall, a former diplomat and Tony-award winning producer, is her only child. He has dismissed allegations that he abused his mother's trust and said he cared about her more than anyone else.
Brooke Astor
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Brooke Astor
Born March 30, 1902(1902-03-30)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
Died August 13, 2007 (aged 105)
Briarcliff Manor, New York, USA

Occupation Heiress, philanthropist
Spouse Dryden Kuser (1919-1930)
Charles Marshall (1932-1952)
Vincent Astor (1953-1959)
Children Anthony Dryden Marshall
Brooke Astor (March 30, 1902 � August 13, 2007) was an American philanthropist and socialite who was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, which had been established by her third husband. She was also a novelist and wrote two volumes of memoirs.

1 Early life
2 Marriages
2.1 J. Dryden Kuser
2.2 Charles H. Marshall
2.3 Vincent Astor
3 Philanthropy
4 Elder abuse controversy
5 Death
6 External link
7 Bibliography
8 See also
9 References

[edit] Early life
She was born Roberta Brooke Russell in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the only child of John Henry Russell, Jr. (1872-1947), a Marine Corps officer and his wife, née Mabel Cecile Hornby Howard (1879-1967). Her paternal grandfather was John Henry Russell, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She was named for her maternal grandmother, Roberta Traill Brooke MacGill Howard and was known as Bobby to close friends and family.

Her father, who retired as a major general, ended his military career as sixteenth commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Due to her father's career, she spent much of her childhood living in China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other places.

She briefly attended The Madeira School in 1919 but graduated from Holton-Arms.

[edit] Marriages

[edit] J. Dryden Kuser
She married her first husband, John Dryden Kuser (1897-1964), shortly after her seventeenth birthday, on 26 April 1919, in Washington, D.C. "I certainly wouldn't advise getting married that young to anyone," she said later in life. "At the age of sixteen, you're not jelled yet. The first thing you look at, you fall in love with."[1]

Her husband, the son of the financier and conservationist Col. Anthony Rudolph Kuser and grandson of U.S. Senator John F. Dryden, later became a New Jersey Republican councilman, assemblyman, and state senator.[2]

"Worst years of my life"[1] was how Astor described her tumultuous first marriage, which was punctuated by her husband's physical abuse, alcoholism and adultery. According to Frances Kiernan's 2007 biography of Brooke Astor, when Brooke was six months pregnant with the couple's only child, her husband broke her jaw during a marital fight.[3] "I learned about terrible manners from the family of my first husband," she told The New York Times. '"They didn't know how to treat people."[1] Her husband was scarcely better behaved. A year after the marriage, according to a published account of the divorce proceedings, Dryden Kuser "began to embarrass her in social activities, ... told her that he no longer loved her and that their marriage was a failure."[4]

Astor had one child with Dryden Kuser, Anthony Dryden Kuser, born in 1924.

In June 1929, Kuser insisted that his wife leave him. After waiting for the successful end to his New Jersey senatorial campaign, she filed for divorce on 15 February 1930, in Reno, Nevada. It was finalized later that year.[4][5]

[edit] Charles H. Marshall
Her second husband, whom she married in 1932, was Charles Henry "Buddy" Marshall (1891-1952). Marshall was the senior partner of the investment firm Butler, Herrick & Marshall, a brother-in-law of the mercantile heir Marshall Field III, and a descendant of James Lenox, the founder of the Lenox Library.

Astor later wrote that the marriage was "a great love match."[1]

She had two stepchildren by the marriage, Peter Marshall and Helen Huntington Marshall.[6]

In 1942, Anthony Dryden Kuser, then 18 years old, changed his name to Anthony Dryden Marshall. It is unclear whether or not he was formally adopted by his stepfather.

Her husband's financial fortunes turned in the mid 1940s, at which time Brooke Marshall went to work for eight years as a features editor at House & Garden magazine. She also briefly worked for Ruby Ross Wood, a prominent New York interior decorator who, with her associate Billy Baldwin, decorated the Marshalls' apartment at 1 Gracie Square in New York City.[7]

[edit] Vincent Astor
In 1953, eleven months after Charles Marshall's death, she married her third and final husband, Vincent Astor (1891-1959), the chairman of the board of Newsweek magazine and the last notably rich American member of the famous Astor family. The oldest son of Titanic victim Colonel John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) and his first wife, Ava Lowle Willing, he had been married and divorced twice before and was known to have a difficult personality.

"He had a dreadful childhood, and as a result, had moments of deep melancholy," Astor recalled. "But I think I made him happy. That's what I set out to do. I'd literally dance with the dogs, sing and play the piano, and I would make him laugh, something no one had ever done before. Because of his money, Vincent was very suspicious of people. That's what I tried to cure him of."[1]

According to an oft-told story in society circles, Astor agreed to divorce his second wife, Minnie, only after she had found him a replacement spouse. After first suggesting Janet Newbold Ryan Stewart Bush, the newly divorced wife of James S. Bush, who turned down Astor's proposal with startling candor -- "I don't even like you," she reportedly said -- Minnie Astor suggested the recently widowed Brooke Marshall.[8] Whatever the circumstances, few people believed that the Astor-Marshall union was anything more than a financial transaction. As Brooke Astor's friend the novelist Louis Auchincloss said, "Of course she married Vincent for the money," adding, "I wouldn't respect her if she hadn't. Only a twisted person would have married him for love."[3]

During her brief marriage to Astor, whom she called "Captain," Astor participated in his real-estate and hotel empire and his philanthropic endeavors. Between 1954 and 1958, she redecorated one of his properties, the Hotel St. Regis, which had been built by his father.

Though she received several proposals after Astor's death, she chose not to remarry. "I'd have to marry a man of a suitable age and somebody who was a somebody, and that's not easy. Frankly, I think I'm unmarriageable now," Astor said in an interview in 1980, when she was 78. "I'm too used to having things my way. But I still enjoy a flirt now and then."[1]

[edit] Philanthropy
Though she was appointed a member of the board of the Astor Foundation soon after her marriage, upon Vincent Astor's death in 1959, she took charge of all the philanthropies to which he left his fortune. Despite liquidating the Vincent Astor Foundation in 1997, she continued to be active in charities and in New York's social life. The New York Public Library was always one of Astor's favorite charities. As a result of her charity work, Astor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. Her life's motto summed up her prodigious generosity with the quote, "Money is like manure, it should be spread around."[9][10]

Among numerous other organizations, she was involved with Lighthouse for the Blind, the Maternity Center Association, the Astor Home for emotionally disturbed children, the International Rescue Committee, the Fresh Air Fund, and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Society of New York Hospital.

[edit] Elder abuse controversy
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On July 26, 2006, the New York Daily News ran a front-page cover story on the family feud between Astor's son, Anthony Dryden Marshall, and her grandson Philip Cryan Marshall, regarding to the welfare of the centenarian Astor, then 104 years old. The story detailed how Astor's grandson, a historic preservationist and associate professor at Roger Williams University, had filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of his father as the socialite's guardian and the appointment of Annette de la Renta, the wife of designer Oscar de la Renta, instead.

According to accounts published in The New York Times and the New York Daily News, Astor was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease several years ago and suffered from anemia, among other ailments. The lawsuit alleged that Marshall had not provided for his elderly mother and, instead, had allowed her to live in squalor and that he had cut back on necessary medication and doctor's visits, while enriching himself with income from her estate. Philip Marshall further charged that his father sold his grandmother's favorite Childe Hassam painting without her knowledge and with no record as to the whereabouts of the funds received from the sale. The painting, "Flags, Fifth Avenue" (1918), is now in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. In addition to Annette de la Renta, Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller provided affidavits supporting Philip Marshall's requests for a change in guardianship.

The day the story appeared, New York Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse sealed the documents pertaining to the lawsuit and granted an order appointing Annette de la Renta guardian and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to be in charge of Astor's finances. Several news organizations including Associated Press and The New York Times have sued to have the records of the Astor case unsealed in the public interest, claiming that there is no legal basis for the sealing of the records. Both actions were pending a hearing scheduled for 8 August 2006. In the interim, Astor was moved to Lenox Hill Hospital, where an unidentified nurse called her appearance "deplorable"; according to the New York Daily News, Anthony Marshall unsuccessfully attempted to have his mother transferred to another hospital.

Astor was released from Lenox Hill Hospital on 29 July 2006 and moved to Holly Hill, her 75-acre estate in the village of Briarcliff Manor, New York.

On 1 August 2006, The New York Times reported that Anthony Marshall was accused by Alice Perdue, who was employed in his mother's business office, of diverting nearly $1 million from his ailing mother's personal checking accounts into theatrical productions. Marshall, through a spokesman, said that Astor knew of the investments and approved of them. Perdue countered that Marshall had advised her never to send to his mother any documents of a financial nature because "she didn't understand it."

On August 8, William F. Buckley Jr., who lived in the same building as Astor, wrote about the ordeal in his syndicated column.

On 27 November 2007, indictments on criminal charges were announced against Astor's son, Anthony D. Marshall and attorney Francis X. Morrissey Jr. Charles stem from a district attorney's office and subsequent grand jury investigation into the mishandling of her money and a questionable signature on the third amendment to her 2002 will, made in March 2004.[11] That amendment called for Mrs. Astor's real estate to be sold and the proceeds added to her residuary estate. An earlier amendment, also made in 2004, which designated Marshall as the executor of Astor's estate and left him the entirety of the residuary estate, was also under investigation.[11]

[edit] Death


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