Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brooke Astor’s Son Found Guilty – Sentenced to 1 – 3 Years in Prison

Brooke Astor’s only son, Anthony D. Marshall, was sentenced on December 21, 2009, to one to three years in prison for defrauding his mother, stealing millions of dollars from her as she suffered from Alzheimers. (A co-defendant, Francis X. Morrissey Jr., a lawyer who did estate planning for Mrs. Astor, was also convicted of a series of fraud and conspiracy charges, as well as one count of forging Mrs. Astor’s signature on an amendment to her will.)



Credit: The New York Times

In addition to the legal issues involved, this story caught my attention due to my interest in the transatlantic liners of the early to mid-1900s. On April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic and subsequently foundered on April 15, 1912 at approximately 2:20 a.m., sinking to the bottom of the ocean and taking over 1,500 souls with her.

One of the many people to die in the sinking was John Jacob Astor IV. After assisting his young, pregnant wife Madelaine into a lifeboat, Mr. Astor stood back with the other men while the other women and children entered the lifeboats, which was customary back then.



John Jacob Astor IV Credit: Picture History



Madelaine Astor Credit: Titanic-Titanic

It was Vincent Astor, son of John Jacob Astor IV, and married to Brooke Astor at the time of his somewhat sudden death of a heart attack on February 3, 1959, who brought his father's body back to New York (his body was recovered from the Atlantic after the sinking) and presided at his funeral after the sinking. In 1948, Vincent set up the Vincent Astor Foundation and, upon his death, half of his $130 million estate went to the Foundation which his widow, Brooke, was to administer.

Over the course of her life, Brooke Astor carried out her husband's wishes, donating over $200 million to various charities during her lifetime. Although, unfortunately, her good work might be overshadowed by the recent events involving her estate, this classy lady can rest in peace knowing she carried out her late husband's wishes.



Brooke Astor Credit: Fox News

On a bit of a side note, Vincent left his half-brother, Jack, nothing. The child with whom Madelaine Astor was pregnant while on the Titanic and, in my opinion, unintentionally disinherited, is, ironically, the one responsible (he left a son and grandson when he died in July of 1992) for carrying on the Astor name in the United States. I find it a bit interesting that Vincent left him nothing, as he had to have known that his father would have wanted to provide for him and, although it's my understanding that Vincent didn't like him (his half-brother) much and didn't respect his choices in life, it's interesting that he didn't do the right thing, so to say.

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