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And with a whimper, not a bang, the schadenfreude saga over the care of Brooke Astor has come to an end. In an attempt to get the story out of the public eye as quickly as possible, Mrs. Astor's son Anthony D. Marshall has agreed to give up his role as caretaker and steward of his mother's estate and to return $1.35 million of stuff as collateral for any potential claims against him after his mother passes on. In Mr. Marshall's place Annette de la Renta and J. P. Morgan Chase will serve as Mrs. Astor's permanent guardians.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Marshall is to pay "$850,000 within the next 10 days and $500,000 by July 1 of next year to Morgan Chase to cover late penalties and interest relating to Mrs. Astor’s tax returns." To do so, he is putting his yacht, a grandfather clock, and an Andrew Wyeth painting up as collateral. Further, his wife has to transfer ownership of a Maine estate that was Mrs. Astor's back to Marshall.

In an attempt to spin the settlement, one of Marshall's lawyers told the Times that the collateral is "not an admission of wrongdoing, but a declaration of confidence by Mr. Marshall that if there is any litigation after his mother dies he will be completely vindicated.”

Annete de la Renta outside of Manhattan State Supreme Court yesterday. Photo by AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano