The Astor Dachshunds: Holding Out for a HeroThe dogs! Brooke’s dogs! Somehow the treatment of beloved Brooke Astor’s beloved dogs is now a barometer of the meanness of her son, Tony Marshall, recently indicted for “swindling” his mom out of millions. “He killed the dogs!” one of Brooke’s friends gasped in horror. Of course, Tony didn’t kill the dogs. But in the Dickensian tropes that envelope this scandal — he fed his own mother gruel, Tony’s son charged — Tony has become Fagin. Every meanness is credited. He wanted to put the dogs to sleep, said the Daily News, quoting an anonymous source. In her last days, he wouldn’t let his mother see her dogs, Tony’s son charged. All this is, of course, contrasted with Annette de la Renta’s loving consideration of the dogs. De la Renta, who became Brooke’s legal guardian in the end, is the dog rescuer. She’s got mutts; they roam her apartment. She invited dogs to her daughter’s wedding. She even bought Brooke one of her dachshunds.
Did ‘The New Yorker’ Rip One of Its Cartoons Off ‘The Far Side’?MEDIA
• OMG, plagiarism in The New Yorker’s cartoon issue? [Gelf]
• Washington Post chief Don Graham has 300 Facebook friends. Poke away! [Washingtonian]
• Fox 9’s license is up for renewal, and a bunch of incensed New Jerseyans are fighting the station for failing to live up to its Jersey-side obligations. After all, the channel is based out of Secaucus but bills itself as “My9 New York.” [NYT]
Fox Business Network: The Victory PartyLast night’s launch party for Fox Business Network had so many media and business moguls, you couldn’t throw a canapé without mussing up the rug of some very important dude. Seriously, our throats were burning from inhaling the perfume of wealth and success. In one corner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur, Liz Smith chatted with Mel Brooks and Harvey Weinstein. (Apparently, Harvey loves the channel. “I love Roger Ailes,” he said, though he would not tell us what he liked the best or whether he ate Money for Breakfast.) In another corner, Oscar and Annette de la Renta greeted Regis and Joy Philbin. And kingly in the middle of it all, like a pair of samurai and their husbands, were Rupert Murdoch, Les Moonves, Julie Chen, and Rupert’s wife, Wendi Deng. “Wendi, we love your bracelets!” we cried in unison, suddenly morphing into Blair’s sidekicks in Gossip Girl. “They were only twenty dollars,” she exclaimed. Wow, we thought. Wendi is so down-to-earth! “But this wasn’t,” she laugh-cackled, flashing us her index finger, which was adorned with what looked to be the actual Hope Diamond.
Brooke Astor: The Beat Went OnDeath may have knocked Brooke Astor down, but it certainly didn’t keep her out of the fight. In the inheritance battle between her son, Anthony Marshall, and her legal guardians, Astor’s mental capacity has been called into question once again. Now Annette de la Renta and JPMorgan Chase, who took charge of her affairs in the year before her death, allege that she was unfit to change her will as early as age 98. Marshall, who stands to gain millions based on codicils signed after that, disputes this. He points out that she was older than 100 when doctors ordered her to “cut down on late night dancing and parties.” (And here we thought being 100 was all about pooping and People’s Court.) Marshall also claims that De la Renta bought the support of Astor’s staffers when she wrested guardianship away from him and fired one long-term housekeeper who wouldn’t turn against Marshall. It looks like all parties are settled in for a long fight, which should be fun, as Marshall himself is 83 and De la Renta is 75. Being rich and old: not so easy as we thought!
Lawyer: Astor may have been incompetent before will was written [Newsday]
Brooke Astor friend fired caretaker who opposed her – son [NYDN]
Anthony Marshall Fights Back
Brooke Astor’s embattled son, Anthony Marshall, has finally started lashing back at his opponents in the contest over his late mother’s will. Specifically, he chose the first day of legal proceedings to issue a barrage of attacks against Annette de la Renta, Astor’s friend who was named Astor’s guardian in the year before her death. Marshall’s lawyer Ken Warner accused the designer’s wife yesterday of “making a lunge for power and control,” according to the Daily News. The Post quotes Marshall as calling De la Renta “heartless and hostile” for refusing to allow his wife, Charlene, to see Astor the weekend before her death. Marshall also claims that De la Renta accepted expensive gifts from Astor even after she claimed that the elderly woman was mentally unfit. He made no mention of the fact that De la Renta, who does not stand to benefit financially from the debate, has been paying her own legal fees throughout. He did, however, claim that JP Morgan Chase, De la Renta’s ally in the legal skirmish, was “reckless,” “irresponsible,” and “outrageous” — and called their pursuit of him “a malicious jihad.” We’re beginning to really like where this is all going.
Test of Wills [NYP]
In Astor Aftermath, High Society Begins to Aim Below the BeltBrooke Astor is not yet in her grave, and already tempers are boiling over funeral plans, bequests, and contested codicils to her will. The society matriarch had been planning her grand funeral for over ten years (it’s not morbid, people, a decade ago she was 95), and the list includes surviving boldfacers like Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, Renée Fleming, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and Martha Stewart. It will take place at 2:30 on Friday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue, the home nest of American Wasp culture. Still to be determined are the pallbearers, notes the Times. Per Astor’s request, will her friends David Rockefeller and Annette de la Renta be included? Or will their foe Anthony Marshall, her son, replace them with Marines? (And who will play the role of Kitty Carlisle Hart, who died this April??) Meanwhile, the Post claims Marshall worked with a crooked lawyer to amend his mother’s will during her ailing years, and that De la Renta may try to take over stewardship of the estate. “I see no valid reason to contest the will,” retorted Marshall when contacted by the Post. “A will is a will!” We really hope the dialogue continues on this level.
Funeral A-List: New Version of Mrs. Astor’s 400 [NYT]
Changed of Her Own Free ‘Will’ [NYP]
Update: The will is online! [NYT]
A Grand, Astorian Finale?Is there a settlement afoot in the convoluted real-life telenovela starring Brooke Astor, her son, his son, Annette de la Renta, Henry Kissinger, J.P. Morgan Chase, a laid-off butler in Maine, and a chorus of lawyers? Perhaps yes.
There’s a hearing this afternoon, and the parties are expected to submit a settlement agreement, eliminating the need for a trial, which was set to start next week, according to the Times. Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, will step down from running her business and personal affairs, and two guardians will take over, according to the report. (This is, keep in mind, exactly what her grandson, Philip Marshall, had requested when he started the whole messiness.) And why is Anthony suddenly agreeing to this? Because Chase will agree not to sue him for the millions of dollars he may (or may not!) have skimmed from his mom.
And everyone will live happily ever after — not least the rest of us, who got to learn all about Maine estates, Childe Hassam paintings, and urine-soaked couches. Yay, voyeuristic thrills!
Settlement Expected In Dispute Over Astor Matriarch [NYT]
The Family Astor [NYM]