Brooke Astor's Son Stunned by Abuse Claims

The Associated Press
Friday, July 28, 2006; 10:25 AM

NEW YORK -- The son of philanthropist Brooke Astor said he was stunned by allegations that he abused his ailing 104-year-old mother.

"I love my mother, and no one cares more about her than I do," Anthony Marshall, 82, said in a statement Thursday.

Marshall, a former diplomat and Broadway producer who is now his mother's legal guardian, claimed the family spends more than $2.5 million a year to care for Astor at her Park Avenue duplex. She "has a staff of eight with instructions to provide her with whatever she needs and whatever they think she should have," he said.

In court papers filed last week, Astor's grandson accused Marshall, his father, of denying Astor the usual luxuries of a wealthy woman "while enriching himself with millions of dollars" as her legal guardian.

"Her bedroom is so cold in the winter that my grandmother is forced to sleep in the TV room in torn nightgowns on a filthy couch that smells, probably from dog urine," Philip Marshall said in an affidavit.

He claims his father denied Astor hair bonnets and no-skid socks _ leaving nurses to spend their own money on the items _ and left her with an "unmotivated cook" serving pureed peas, liver, carrots and oatmeal.

Astor was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital earlier this week, and remained there Friday, although her condition was improving, said Fraser Seitel, a spokesman for Astor's close friend, Annette de la Renta, wife of designer Oscar de la Renta.

"Mrs. Astor is conscious, talking and eating," Seitel said. "She is stable."

The court papers filed by Astor's grandson seek to replace Anthony Marshall as her legal guardian with Annette de la Renta and J.P. Morgan Chase bank. A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 8.

"I am shocked and deeply hurt by the allegations against me, which are completely untrue," Anthony Marshall said.

Anthony Marshall and his wife visited Astor in the hospital Thursday evening. Speaking to reporters afterward, Marshall said he was "very touched and encouraged by the fact that my mother's present state of age has brought attention to the need for care of elderly people."

Astor ran the Astor Foundation after the death of her third husband, Vincent Astor, in 1959. The foundation gave away approximately $200 million by the time it closed at the end of 1997. Vincent Astor was the great-great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, who made a fortune in fur trading and real estate and was once the wealthiest man in America.

Philip Marshall's cousin Richard Cryan told The New York Times in Friday's editions that Philip Marshall "is not an individual motivated by greed."

"He is a college professor and not money-oriented," Cryan said. "I accept on face value that this is motivated by his concerns about the well-being of his grandmother."

© 2006 The Associated Press