Early 2002 Brooke’s favorite painting, Up the Avenue from Thirty-fourth Street, by Childe Hassam, is sold for $10 million. Her previous wills had stipulated that the painting would go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but her most recent will omitted that instruction. Brooke’s close friend Annette de la Renta would later say that Astor had said Marshall wanted her to sell the painting because she was “running out of money.”
March 2002 David Rockefeller throws Brooke a 100th birthday party at his estate.
Dec. 17, 2003 Nurses to Brooke write detailed notes about her condition, citing her confusion, illusions, tremors, paranoia and disorientation.
Dec. 18, 2003 A codicil, drafted by Christensen, is added to Brooke’s will. It stipulates that 49 percent of the remaining assets in a trust left by Vincent Astor be given to Anthony, allowing him to distribute the money to charities. Prior to this change, prosecutors have said, Brooke Astor wanted her estate to be put in a trust for charities of her choice.
Jan. 12, 2004 A second codicil, written by new lawyers chosen by Anthony, is added to Brooke’s will. It gives Anthony her estate outright and allows him to give property to Charlene. It also allows him to choose the executors. He replaces Christensen with his longtime friend Francis X. Morrissey Jr. and Charlene.
Feb. 10, 2004 At a luncheon that Anthony arranged for his mother to host, Brooke praises her son in a short speech, uncharacteristically reading off a note card. Brooke’s doctor would later state that she lacked the mental ability to write such words.
March 3, 2004 Morrissey presents a third codicil to Brooke. It instructs executors to sell her Park Avenue apartment and Hudson Valley country house and include the proceeds in the estate to save on taxes.
July 2006 Philip Marshall, Anthony’s son and a professor of historic preservation, files a guardianship petition to seize control of Brooke’s care, citing reasons of elder abuse, mistreatment and neglect. The suit is backed by affidavits from Astor’s staff, Annette de la Renta, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger.
July 23, 2006 Brooke Astor is taken to Lenox Hill Hospital with pneumonia.
July 24, 2006 Philip tells his father about his lawsuit. Anthony Marshall would soon learn that a judge cut off his salary for managing his mother’s assets and appointed Annette de la Renta as her temporary guardian.
July 26, 2006 The “Battle of N.Y. Blue Bloods” breaks in the New York Daily News. “Disaster for Mrs. Astor,” the front page reads.
July, August 2006 The tabloid press pillories the Marshalls, especially Charlene.
Oct. 13, 2006 The parties announce a settlement. Anthony agrees to cease being steward of his mother’s health and financial affairs. He and Charlene return $11 million worth in cash, jewelry and art to Brooke. Annette de la Renta is officially appointed Astor’s guardian, and JPMorgan Chase bank is put in charge of her financial affairs. Brooke is moved to her country house, and her staff, whom Anthony and Charlene had dismissed, is rehired.
October 2006 A court-appointed attorney for Astor in the guardianship lawsuit delivers to the Manhattan district attorney’s office a report by a forensic handwriting expert that Astor could not have produced the signature on the third codicil. The investigation into criminal wrong-doing by both Anthony Marshall and Francis Morrissey begins—and lasts more than a year.
Dec. 4, 2006 While deciding who would be responsible for the legal bills involved in the guardianship lawsuit, the judge rules that Anthony Marshall was entitled to reimbursement because allegations of elder abuse committed by Anthony and Charlene Marshall were “not substantiated.” The couple claim victory, saying they had been falsely accused.