Astor matriarch taken to N.Y. estate

July 30, 2006|By MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE

NEW YORK -- It's home, sweet home for New York grande dame Brooke Astor.

After a four-day hospital stay, the 104-year-old philanthropist was released yesterday and taken by ambulance to the beloved Westchester County estate she hadn't seen for more than a year.

Doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital, where Astor was rushed Wednesday in failing health, gave the OK for her to check out, saying she had made drastic improvement under their care.

"Mrs. Astor was released from the hospital at approximately 1:10 p.m.," said Fraser Seitel, spokesman for Astor's temporary guardian, socialite Annette de la Renta. "And according to Dr. Sandra Gelbard, who has been treating her, she had improved dramatically."

Astor was taken directly to Holly Hill, the 75-acre estate in Briarcliff Manor, where those close to her say she feels most at home - and where she has said she hopes to be when she dies.

A short time later, Astor's son Anthony Marshall, 82, stepped out of a chauffeured black Cadillac and announced himself to the gatekeeper.

"I'm Mr. Marshall. I'd like to see my mother, Mrs. Astor," he said. "Can I come in?"

He was allowed in, along with his wife, Charlene, and they emerged an hour later, their limousine brushing by reporters.

Marshall is at the center of the family's internal war - first disclosed by the New York Daily News last week - over Astor's care.

Astor's grandson, Philip Marshall, has accused his father of mistreating her - refusing to pay for essential medicines and even the most basic staples, such as new clothes.

Astor's return to the estate capped a grueling week of the bitter legal battle over control of her millions.

According to court papers, Anthony Marshall had his ailing mother confined to a few dark rooms in her Park Avenue apartment, not only refusing to pay for the elegant hairstyles, clothing and flowers that defined her appearance as the grand dame of New York society, but denying her essentials as well.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse removed Anthony Marshall as temporary guardian, and in the tumult Astor was taken to Lenox Hill to recover from her alleged mistreatment.

Earlier yesterday, Anthony Marshall again denied the allegations outside his mother's apartment building.

"I've been extremely supportive," he said. "I visited every day since she has been in," the hospital. He added that he would "hold her hand, kiss her on the head and tell her I love her."

In his court filing, Philip Marshall said his father had refused to allow Astor to go to Holly Hill. In times past, Astor loved to escape her social whirl by retreating to Holly Hill on weekends, where she would swim in one of the two pools, read and write, walk through the woods and watch the sunset while sipping a glass of scotch.

Anthony Marshall had also cut back extensively on expenses at Holly Hill, firing butler Christopher Ely last year, according to an affidavit Ely filed in the case.

"She loved it there. She told me that it is where she would like to die," Ely said. "I think it is a tragedy that she is not being maintained in the style in which she has lived her entire life for whatever amount of time she has left."

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