After a messy year of battles between her son and her friends for control of her finances and well-being, Brooke Astor died today at her Westchester estate in Briarcliff Manor. She was 105. For decades Astor was a paragon of Upper East Side elegance and noblesse-oblige charity, but last year a legal battle waged on her behalf against her son, Anthony Marshall, resulted in a series of embarrassing accusations: neglect, misuse of family funds, and fraud. A year ago, Meryl Gordon examined Mrs. Astor's life, including its messy final chapter, for New York, and found that "the story of the Astor lawsuit is also something simpler and sadder, a tale of parental neglect, repeated generations over." Annette de la Renta, who took over as Astor's guardian after charges were first leveled, told Gordon that she hoped the society matron would "slip away" at Briarcliff, "a place she adores." She got her wish, and Astor can now go back to being remembered as the legend she was.
Related: The Family Astor [NYM]