Charlene Marshall wheels her husband, 89 year-old Anthony Marshall, into New York Criminal Court on June 21, 2013. (Reuters photo)
Late last month, a New York City society drama with a distinctive connection to Mount Desert Island finally concluded when Anthony Marshall, the 89 year-old son of the late Brooke Astor, exhausted his appeals and was sent to prison for stealing millions of dollars from his mother. Astor was a seasonal resident of Northeast Harbor on MDI for decades.
Marshall had control over his mother’s financial affairs late in her life as she suffered from dementia and yet signed over many of her assets to her son. Astor, who had been married to Vincent Astor and inherited part of a fortune made in fur trading and real estate by John Jacob Astor in the late 1700s and early 1800s, died in 2007 at the age of 105. During her lifetime she gave away $200 million, much of it to New York institutions but also to some on MDI, including College of the Atlantic, Asticou Azalea Garden, Northeast Harbor Library, and Saint Mary’s and Saint Jude’s Parish.
Marshall’s handling of Astor’s finances came under public scrutiny after his son, Philip Marshall, complained to officials that his father was neglecting Astor and siphoning off money for himself and his wife Charlene Marshall, who used to be married to an Episcopal minister in Northeast Harbor. She and Anthony Marshall had met in Northeast Harbor before she divorced the minister in 1990 and then married Marshall two years later.
Charlene Marshall was quoted by reporters who attended her husband’s June 21 New York court appearance that seeing her frail husband sent off to jail made her feel as if “my heart has been ripped out of my body.” She certainly took a beating during the scandal (some would say deservedly so) from the New York press, which reported with gusto about the strained relationship she had with her mother-in-law, who was much beloved in New York for her philanthropy and was regarded as the doyenne of New York’s high society.
Despite her husband being sent off to jail and the ridicule she endured from Astor’s fans, however, Marshall has managed to retain one aspect of the life she and her husband led before he was accused. According to the Mount Desert’s official online assessing database, she is the trustee of Cove End, Astor’s former summer estate overlooking the Northeast Harbor yacht club, and is the outright owner of six other surrounding properties on Neighborhood and South Shore roads. The total assessed value of all seven properties – including Cove End, which for tax purposes is valued at more than $2.7 million – is nearly $7 million.