July 27, 2006 — -- Multimillionaire Brooke Astor was one of New York's most-famous socialites.
She married into one of America's wealthiest families. Her late husband's father, John Jacob Astor IV, died aboard the sinking Titanic.
She became a celebrated philanthropist, giving millions to the arts and to people trapped in lives of misery.
Now, her grandson says his famous grandmother -- now 104 -- is living a life of misery herself.
"She sleeps on a couch that is smelly, and according to court papers, smells of dog urine," said New York Daily News reporter Helen Peterson.
The New York Daily News was first to report on court papers filed by Astor's grandson that alleged his father, 82-year-old Anthony Marshall, was responsible for mistreating the society doyenne.
In court papers, Phillip Marshall said his grandmother was now forced to wear torn nightgowns that nurses had to turn inside out because they were so worn.
The woman who once wined and dined among New York's elite is now allegedly served a steady diet of pureed peas and oatmeal.
"Nurses had asked for money to buy nonskid socks, so she wouldn't slip," Peterson said. "How much can socks cost? Five, ten bucks? They were denied."
Anthony Marshall, Astor's only son, controls her $45 million portfolio.
Phillip Marshall has asked the court that his father be removed as Astor's legal guardian and replaced by JPMorgan Chase Bank and friend Annette de la Renta, wife of designer Oscar de la Renta.
Anthony Marshall declined to talk about the case, telling the Daily News, "It should be left to the court."
With her health failing, Astor has faded from the limelight in recent years, but her generosity has not been forgotten.
In 1993, she said to ABC News' Barbara Walters: "I wanted to give it all back to New York City, and I have given it, practically all. I just have a little bit left to still give and leave in my will. It's been really a marvelous, marvelous experience for me."
Elder-care specialists say that Astor's celebrity draws attention to the allegations, but that it can be a lesson for all people.
"We need to be alert to family caregivers becoming frustrated, becoming burned out, feeling that they can no longer do this task," said Gail Gibson Hunt of the National Alliance for Caregiving.