Famed New York socialite and philanthropist, Brooke Astor, robbed of millions in America’s most high-profile guardianship abuse case

In 2008, Tony Marshall was convicted on 14 counts of theft, grand larceny, and conspiracy relating to the financial exploitation of his own mother, Brooke Astor, widow of William Vincent Astor, president of the Vincent Astor Foundation, and legendary patroness of New York City.

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Upon her marriage to Vincent in 1953, Brooke readily engaged in the family tradition that has made “Astor” a household name for over a century: funneling their massive real estate fortune into charitable organizations, honorable causes, and arts and education projects all over their hometown of NYC.

Vincent and Brooke, in particular, gave astounding amounts of money away.  Through the Vincent Astor Foundation, Brooke made grants to the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller University, Cornell University Medical College, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

After Vincent’s death, Brooke continued on to forge a reputation as New York’s undisputed queen of philanthropy.  In 1996, New York Landmarks Conservancy declared her a “living landmark” for her contributions to the city.

But nearing her 100th birthday, Brooke’s health began to deteriorate.  Despite being in excellent physical health for most of her life, Alzheimer’s Disease started her down an undeniable path of mental decline, opening a door to her son, his wife, and their associates to prey on her wealth through guardianship.

While Brooke struggled to recall what happened from one day to the next, Tony exploited his mother to the tune of $14 million.  He made outrageous charges to her account, sold incredibly valuable pieces of art in her personal collection, altered her will to inherit her estate, and even persuaded her to give him a beloved property (which he then billed her to maintain).  Several of these maneuvers broke bequests she had made to leave her assets with charities.

Though Marshall eventually paid the price for his crimes in court, the Brooke Astor case remains America’s most publicized senior guardianship abuse case.

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