Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, July 28, 2006

Million dollar matriarch living in squalor

There was an incredibly sad report on CNN.com, Grandson: Society matron is being neglected (July 26, 2006).  Brooke Astor, wife of John Jacob Astor IV, is a multimillionaire who gave away millions to “promoting culture and alleviating human misery.” (CNN.com).  Her 82 year old son, Anthony Marshall, is her current guardian.  He is being accused by his son of neglecting Brooke, who says Brooke is living in absolute squalor. “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.” (CNN.com).
He alleges in a sworn statement that his 82-year-old 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 on 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 J.P. Morgan Chase bank.  * * *
Astor has faded from sight in recent years amid declining health, including two broken hips. Once she was confined to her apartment, court papers allege, she was denied many of the staples of her high-society life.
Her son allegedly replaced her costly face creams with petroleum jelly. A French chef was fired, leaving her at the mercy of an "unmotivated cook" serving pureed peas, liver, carrots and oatmeal, court papers say.
Her dogs, Boysie and Girlsie, have been confined to a pantry for the last six months to keep them from damaging the apartment, the papers say. Philip Marshall also alleges that nurses had to use their own money to buy hair bonnets and no-skid socks for the elderly woman when requests for the items were denied.


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