- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Philanthropist Brooke Astor, the 104-year-old socialite who gave nearly $200 million to city charities, is now sleeping on a filthy couch in torn nightgowns while her son withholds money and proper medical care, her grandson charged in court papers.

The papers, filed last week, purport “elder abuse” and seek to remove Anthony Marshall as his mother’s legal guardian, the New York Daily News reported yesterday.

Philip Marshall claims that his 82-year-old father, a sometime Broadway producer, pays himself $2.3 million yearly as Mrs. Astor’s caretaker and “has turned a blind eye to her, intentionally and repeatedly ignoring her health, safety, personal and household needs.”

Among other things, the papers charge that the son cut off Mrs. Astor’s access to expensive medication, reduced her doctors’ visits and ordered her staff not to take her to an emergency room or call 911 without contacting him first.

The papers also claim Mrs. Astor has been denied many of the staples of her high-society life. Her Estee Lauder face creams were replaced with petroleum jelly and her French chef was fired, they stated. Nurses had to use their own money to purchase hair bonnets and socks for Mrs. Astor, the papers also stated.

Reached by the Daily News, Anthony Marshall said: “You said it is shocking and I agree.” But he said he wouldn’t comment further because the matter “should be left to the court.”

The court papers request guardianship of Mrs. Astor be transferred to Annette de la Renta, wife of designer Oscar de la Renta. Such famous names as Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller, who both attended Mrs. Astor’s 100th birthday gala four years ago, have filed affidavits in support of the transfer.

Mrs. Astor ran the Astor Foundation after the death of her third husband, Vincent Astor, in 1959. He was the great-great-grandson of patriarch John Jacob Astor, who made a fortune in fur trading and real estate and was the wealthiest man in America by 1840.

Mrs. Astor gave millions to the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Natural History. But she also funded smaller projects, such as new windows for a nursing home, and was noted for personally visiting the places she helped out.

Her efforts won her a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1998.

Anthony Marshall, her only child, is the son of her first husband. He and his wife have been involved in several Broadway productions including “I Am My Own Wife,” the 2004 Tony winner for best play.

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