today in astor-ia

How the Other Half Dies

Brooke Astor

Astor with her son, Anthony Marshall, at left. Is that her good mink? Or just a mediocre one?Photo: WireImage

The Times yesterday posted actual images of Brooke Astor’s now-to-be-contested will, so we can have a bit of fun. The biggest and most entertaining details have been out there before — some sculptures for some Rockefellers, a few hundred grand for an azalea garden in Maine — but there is still an embarrassment of riches in the actual text itself. After the jump, a postmortem look at how the other half lives and contemplates death. (We bolded the parts we think are just chahming.)

• To my dear friend, Annette Englehard de la Renta, such four of my dog paintings from the staircase at Holly Hill as she may select … in fond remembrance of me.
• To my daughter-in-law Charlene Marshall, my diamond snowflake necklace set with three hundred sixty-seven round diamonds, as a token of my affection for her.
• I bequeath my good mink coat and my chinchilla short coat … to my daughter-in-law, Charlene Marshall.
• I bequeath the two large English silver candelabra, the large French silver tureen, all china marked “WA,” all Astor table silver, the cafe and finger bowls marked with the Astor crest, the red wine glasses in red glass marked “WA,” the set of gold Bohemian glasses marked with the Astor crest, and the dessert forks and knives in gold marked with the Astor crest … to my friend, William Waldorf Astor, 4th Viscount Astor, of Ginge Manor, near Wantage, Oxon, England.
• I bequeath the portrait of the Astor family in the drawing room … to the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, provided, however, that said Library shall agree … to hand such paintings at said Library … and not to store such paintings or to deaccession them. If said Library shall not so agree … I bequeath the affected painting to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We imagine this is what our will will be like, except with all of the above replaced with the mandate: “Make our parents pay everybody back.”

Brooke Astor’s Last Will and Testament [City Room/NYT]

How the Other Half Dies