Anthony Marshall Plays a Face Card in Will DisputeIn further proof that the Brooke Astor will debacle is the ultimate high-low glamour contest of the year, news surfaces today of a charming little related anecdote from overseas. The Post tells us the story of Lia Opris, Brooke’s former maid, who is one of the only witnesses to the signing of two late codicils to her will (ones that favor her son, Anthony Marshall, heavily). Since the legitimacy of these codicils is contested, her testimony is very important. So important that a year ago, while she was recuperating from a car accident in her hometown in Romania, lawyers working for Marshall arranged to have someone visit her house to get her on the phone. That someone was Romanian prince Paul Philip. The ploy didn’t work, but he tried again, this time bringing his wife, Princess Lia. The tab described it as “something akin to a work-a-day crime-scene witness opening her door somewhere in the United States and finding President and Laura Bush standing there, begging a small tactical favor,” but let’s be honest: It would be more like if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie showed up. It’s kind of a romantic story, actually. So romantic, in fact, that the Post waxed all fairy tale on our asses:
There was no word if the prince was wearing his crown at the time — or on a subsequent occasion, when he returned to her door, his wife, Princess Lia, at his side. Told that Opris was at her sister’s house, the royal pair hence proceeded thither. Again, the maid demurred.
“Thither”? “Hence”? We wonder what kind of words the Post would use if they wrote a story about us? Probably something along the lines of “fagatron” and “twatermelon.”
Battle ‘Royal’ [NYP]
Is Charlene Marshall Getting Her Groove Back?Oh, no, she didn’t! Charlene Marshall, the wife of Brooke Astor’s son Anthony Marshall, who was recently indicted for looting his late mother’s estate, showed up all huffy at an Upper West Side Barnes & Noble Monday night, where author Frances Keirnan, was reading from her book The Last Mrs. Astor: A New York Story, a biography about the grande dame’s life and philanthropy that touches on the recent scandal. During the Q&A session, a witness told “Page Six,” Marshall caused a scene by confronting the author about her reporting. She was “waving her hand furiously,” the witness said. “It was such bad form on her part.” Still, the source notes, “She looked good. She’s lost weight and had her hair done.” There’s nothing like having your entire world fall apart to bring a flush to your cheeks and help you lose that extra five pounds!
Anthony Marshall Accused of Greed, Bad Taste in FriendsThe charges against Anthony Marshall and his lawyer, Francis Morrissey, were revealed today, and they ain’t pretty. The accusations include the following:
• They tricked Marshall’s mother, Brooke Astor, into thinking that she was broke and needed to sell her favorite painting so Marshall could get a $2 million commission.
• They conspired to increase Marshall’s salary (without Astor’s knowledge) from $450,000 a year to $1.4 million a year, and used much of that money to buy himself a second yacht.
• Marshall used his mother’s money to hire a captain for the yacht at $52,000 a year.
Grand Jury Indicts Astor’s SonAnthony Marshall and his lawyer and business partner, Francis Morrissey, have been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges relating to suspicious handling of the will of Brooke Astor, Marshall’s late mother. Since September, jurors and prosecutors have been hearing from witnesses scrutinizing the signature on a disputed third codicil to Astor’s will, and debating the care which Marshall provided her in her final years. Marshall declined to comment to the Times or any other papers in the matter, but he is expected to turn himself over to authorities this morning. Click below to read the only in-depth interview with Marshall and his wife, Charlene, on the subject (and an explanation of Morrissey’s controversial role), in Steve Fishman’s New York story published earlier this month.
Mrs. Astor’s Baby [NYM]
Son of Astor is Said to Face Criminal Charges [NYT]
Related: Daily Intel’s complete coverage of the Astor will controversy
Update: Marshall turned himself in this morning, and it turned out the charges were fraud, forgery and grand larceny.
It’s Not That the Judge Is Angry at Andrew Cuomo, He’s Just Disappointed Yesterday Anthony Scarpino, the judge overseeing the Brooke Astor estate, shamed Andrew Cuomo for holding up the distribution of her trust while his office waits for the grand-jury probe which will decide whether Anthony Marshall took advantage of his mom. “You know she’s dead, right?” he said. “We’re never going to get a real answer!” Kidding! He didn’t say that. What he did say, according to the Daily News, was that he was “very disappointed” that it was taking everyone so long to get it together and that he thought they were being very selfish to the charities who were waiting patiently for their windfall.
“It’s going to cost the charities a lot of money,” Scarpino warned. “I feel we were very close [to settling]. I am very, very disappointed that we haven’t been able to close that gap.”
Then he sent them to their rooms to think about what they’d done.
Judge Says Family Feud Over Wills Will Hurt Astor’s Charities [NYDN]
Anthony Marshall Wasn’t Always So Sure of Mom’s SanityMmmm. This is awkward. Anthony Marshall, who has been making such a fuss about his late mother Brooke Astor’s mental clarity in the years before her death, was revealed yesterday to actually have questioned her sanity as early as 2000. That year he wrote a worried letter to a doctor saying, “she is delusional at times” and would get lost on her own Maine property, which she’d owned for decades. This was over a year before Astor signed a codicil to her will that would leave Marshall with millions more dollars after her death, an act that Marshall has been insisting was done with full mental clarity. Oopsie! That’s going to hurt his side of the battle for her money. Still, it’s sort of nice to have proof that at some point, Marshall was worried about his mother’s well-being.
Astor’s Son Faces Letter of the Law [NYP]
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]
Old Astor Summer Manse on the Block for $16 Million
Now, you know it used to be good to be an Astor. They had millions of dollars and were pinnacles of society, etc., etc. But in light of all the trouble surrounding the late Brooke Astor’s estate, we thought it might be nice to look at exactly how good it used to be. The timing couldn’t be better – just this week one of the most famous old Astor mansions (not owned by Brooke, but by her husband Vincent’s ancestors) went on sale in Newport for $16 million. The fifteen-bedroom, eight-bath palace called “Beechwood” was a mere summer home for Vincent’s grandparents. It was partially there, during grand parties, that Caroline Astor created her famous “400,” a gathering of the most prominent members of society. We found photos of the place on broker Lila Delman’s Website. As you look at the extra pics after the jump, you may find yourself wondering why they called it “Beechwood.” We, of course, would have called it “Versailles.”
Astor’s Son Caves on CodicilAnthony Marshall has wisely decided against asking a probate judge to support the sketchy third codicil to the will of his mother, Brooke Astor. The late addition, made after the ailing matriarch was over 100 years old, would have transferred $40 million of her real-estate holdings into cash to be managed by Marshall. This would have meant more fees for him and his lawyer, Francis Morrissey Jr. But a handwriting expert said last year that Brooke’s signature on the codicil had been forged — and a source told the Post that the issue was being dropped to avoid more scrutiny toward Marshall and his lawyer’s legal high jinks before Astor’s death. This is a good move for everyone involved, especially us, because it gives us something to write about on a Friday in late August.
“Will-ful” Son Caves on Codicil [NYP]
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]
Live-Blogging Mrs. Astor’s FuneralWe’ve just learned that St. Thomas Church has live audio feeds for many of its major events, which you can tune into here. Which means, you guessed it — death-blogging! We’ll sit here and listen to all of the action at Brooke Astor’s funeral, so you don’t have to. Expected guests include luminaries like Martha Stewart, Walter Cronkite, Annette de la Renta, and various senators and socialites. We’ll do our best to identify them by their muffled coughs (or in Cronkite’s case, his irritated hack).