Almost five years after she died at 105, the court battle over Brooke Astor's will has been resolved. The big loser? Astor's only son, Anthony Marshall. The big winners? The New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New Yorkers in general.
According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the settlement will allow more than "$100 million that has been in limbo to start flowing to charities." The settlement cuts Marshall's inheritance by 50 percent (to just $14.5 million), gives $30 million to start a new Brooke Astor Fund for New York Education and "provides millions in new funds to benefit Central Park and Prospect Park, and will also benefit New York City playgrounds. Other organizations receiving funds include the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Historic Hudson Valley, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Museum, Rockefeller University, the Morgan Library & Museum, and New York University."
"It is great news for everyone that the will contest has settled without a trial," Philip Marshall, Anthony Marshall's son and the person who first brought attention to the mistreatment of Astor in her later years, texted to the Times. He then added that AG Schneiderman "has done a great job representing the unnamed charities who are beneficiaries."
At issue was how mentally competent Astor was when she signed a 2002 will, amended in late 2003 and again in early 2004, that gave her son increased control of his mother's estate. The settlement nullifies the later amendments.
Meanwhile, the story of the last Mrs. Astor isn't quite over yet. The rapidly aging Marshall, who was found guilty of looting his mother's estate, is still free while he awaits an appeal.