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MORE FROM THE ASTOR TRIAL: Despite her $189 million fortune, three grand residences, mounds of jewels and a museum-quality art collection, an aging Brooke Astor couldn’t stop worrying. “I don’t have any money,” she fretted to Christopher Ely, her butler.
“You shouldn’t worry about it,” Ely reassured her.
“I’ll have to ask [Tony],” she would respond — her only son, Anthony Marshall, who was in charge of his mother’s affairs.
He’s now in criminal court for allegedly helping himself to her estate when Astor was suffering from Alzheimer’s, including unduly influencing his mother in order to sell off her prized Childe Hassam painting, “Up the Avenue from 34th Street.” It was sold for $10 million — with a $2 million commission to Marshall — while Astor was wintering in Palm Beach in 2002.
“Now can I go buy some dresses?” Astor asked her son, Ely testified Tuesday. The next day, Astor went shopping.
Meanwhile, her memory was failing. Astor confused her son with her late husband, and couldn’t remember names. “David, do I know that man?” she asked David Rockefeller when lunching with his brother Laurance, despite the fact that they were longtime friends, testified Rockefeller’s granddaughter, Miranda Kaiser. And when Astor signed a document granting Marshall an instant $5 million, she couldn’t remember doing so. “What did I sign?” she asked Ely.
Kaiser also remembers asking Astor why she didn’t have any children after her son. Astor responded, “He was so unfortunate, I decided not to have any more.”