The House of Astor's Dirty Laundry

If there was ever hard proof that the gilded age was over, it's the sad, sordid story of alleged greed, wealth and family dysfunction that has surrounded one of America's great philanthropic ladies.

Brooke Astor, millionaire and legendary philanthropist, was the reigning lady of the New York social scene for decades.

Her late husband, Vincent, was the last heir in the House of Astor and descendant of 19th-century tycoon John Jacob Astor.

This week, that house aired its dirty laundry.

Alleged Squalor and Mistreatment

In a lawsuit that shocked high society and its observers, Astor's grandson, Philip Marshall, sued his father, Anthony Marshall, earlier this summer.

Anthony was Brooke Astor's legal guardian, but Philip sued to have him removed, alleging that Anthony had neglected his mother and left her living in squalor in her Park Avenue duplex.

On Thursday, by judge's orders, a stack of documents in the lawsuit were unsealed and made public. Those pages described greed and abuse, an image completely opposite from the wealth, class, and opulent beauty that was long a trademark of the Astor clan.

"My father...has turned a blind eye to her, intentionally and repeatedly ignoring her health, safety, personal and household needs," Philip says in court documents, referring to his grandmother.

Philip goes on to allege that his father was "engaging in a consistent pattern of enriching himself at the expense of my grandmother."

Anthony Marshall, a Tony-winning Broadway producer who is Astor's son from a previous marriage, has vehemently denied mistreating her.

A tax return form for Anthony Marshall included in the case file showed a 2005 income of $2,384,999.92 with Brooke Russell Astor listed as his employer.

The lawsuit launched by Philip Marshall included supporting affidavits by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and banking executive David Rockefeller. The two men, both friends of Brooke Astor, support Philip's request to have his father replaced as Astor's guardian and manager of her estate.

"I am a friend of Brooke Astor for four decades, and I am very concerned about the allegations that have been made regarding the care that she is receiving," Kissinger wrote in his affidavit.

They have endorsed longtime Astor friend and fellow philanthropist Annette de la Renta, wife of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, replace Anthony Marshall as Astor's guardian. De la Renta also submitted an affidavit in the case file, claiming that "because of the failure of Ms. Astor's son, Anthony, to spend her money properly, the quality of life of Ms. Astor has been significantly eroded...her life is now restricted to one blue sitting room and her bedroom."

Millions, but No New Underwear

"Anthony Marshall has repeatedly refused to use his mother's great wealth to provide for her basic needs," Ira Salzman, the attorney representing Philip Marshall in the suit, alleged in one document.

"Mr. Marshall has refused to pay for any new clothing for his mother...the last time new underwear, brassieres, nightgowns and knee-high socks were purchased was in 2004."

Salzman says that one of Astor's servants used to dress her in a scarf, but was told to stop doing so "because Mr. Marshall was concerned about the $16.00 cleaning bill for each scarf."

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