There were many tears in court on Tuesday during the trial of Anthony Marshall, when his twin sons, Philip and Alec, testified against him. Marshall is accused of plundering the estate of his mother, Brooke Astor, when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. As an ashen-faced Marshall watched, Philip wept on the stand as he recalled how his grandmother — called “Gagi” by her adoring grandsons — no longer recognized him or her great-grandchildren at the end of her life. “She was disoriented and terrified,” recalled the Roger Williams University professor of seeing Astor in 2004, just before her 102nd birthday. “‘We are family, we love you,’” he told her, at which point the grande dame squeezed his hand and burst into tears. By that time, relations between Philip and his father had broken down to such an extent that Anthony and his third wife, Charlene, shunned both Philip and Alec at a charity event honoring Astor. “My wife wrote a letter asking what we had done to deserve such treatment,” Philip said, further explaining that he had also been prohibited from visiting his grandmother. However, Philip snuck into Astor’s apartment at 778 Park Avenue “after hours,” he said, when most of the staff had left for the day. After witnessing the “very, very dirty” conditions of the once-grand abode, it was he who filed the 2006 lawsuit which resulted in Annette de la Renta being appointed as Astor’s guardian. Indeed, much of Philip’s testimony alluded to the guardianship proceedings, which are not admissible in this criminal trial. (He also testified that his father was “very angry that [Astor’s] friends [David Rockefeller and de la Renta] were trying to reopen Holly Hill,” Astor’s beloved Westchester estate, which had been closed by Marshall.) Meanwhile, Alec, a freelance photographer who has enjoyed slightly warmer relations with his father, testified briefly as to the deterioration of Astor’s mental condition, and even smiled at his dad. The day, however, seemed to take its toll on the 84-year-old Marshall, who appeared to be crying himself as he sat on a bench in the hallway during breaks and was comforted by Charlene.
May 20, 2009