Former MDI woman gets Brooke Astor’s millions

Anthony Marshall arrives at New York Criminal Court

Former Mount Desert Island resident Charlene Marshall wheels her husband Anthony Marshall into New York Criminal Court on June 21, 2013. Anthony Marshall, who died in December 2014, left $14 million in his will to his wife – and none to his sons – after he had legally inherited the money from his mother, Brooke Astor, even though he had been convicted of stealing from Astor’s estate while he was her legal guardian. (Reuters photo)

If there is an epilogue to the fiasco that marked the final years of Brooke Astor’s storied life, it is the will her son Anthony Marshall left behind when he died last December at the age of 90.

It is no secret that Marshall had a falling out with his sons after they contacted authorities in 2006 to report how Marshall was treating his mother, who had reigned over New York’s high society and given away $200 million in philanthropy during her lifetime. She died in 2007 at the age of 105.

Marshall, serving as his mother’s legal guardian, looted her estate as she declined into dementia, signing over much of it to himself and his wife Charlene Marshall, who lived in Northeast Harbor and got divorced from a local Episcopal minister two years before she married Marshall in 1992.

Marshall and his former attorney, Francis X. Morrissey Jr., were convicted in 2009 of grand larceny, scheming to defraud and other charges and spent the next four years unsuccessfully appealing their convictions. Charlene was never charged but former employees of Astor in Northeast Harbor and prosecutors suggested that Marshall had acted at Charlene’s urging when he pocketed his mother’s artwork, jewelry and real estate.

As a result of the conviction, Marshall lost much of what he would have inherited from Astor – but not everything, according to the New York Daily News. The newspaper reported this past week that, despite financial penalties imposed by the court, Marshall was left with an inheritance of $14 million from Astor’s estate.

The tabloid also reported that, in his six-page will, Marshall specifically indicated that “he is leaving nothing for [sons] Philip Marshall or his twin brother, Alexander.” Nor did he leave anything to Philip and Alexander’s children, the Daily News indicated.

According to the New York Post, Marshall “bequeathed the entirety of the estimated $14.5 million fortune he’d inherited from Astor to his widow, Charlene and her children.”

This would appear to mean that much of the artwork, jewels and real estate of Astor’s that Marshall took for Charlene before his mother died has ended up in Charlene’s hands anyway.

“Charlene Marshall’s inheritance includes all of Marshall’s books, artwork and jewels that he inherited from his mother. She also gets income from a trust fund and whatever was left in an alimony trust fund that was set up for Marshall’s first wife, Thelma, who died in February,” the Daily News reported.

Charlene also ends up with all the real estate Astor owned in Northeast Harbor, which includes Cove End and several other abutting properties – even though, according to this New York Times article, Astor had considered giving some of her local property to her grandson Philip.

According to information posted in the publicly accessible online assessing database, the six properties have a total assessed value (for tax purposes) of $6,162,800.

The former minister’s wife seems to share her husband’s antipathy toward his sons. In the paid obituary for Anthony Marshall that Charlene had published in the New York Times, she makes no mention whatsoever of Brooke Astor or of her husband’s twin sons.

“Tony had the tenderest of hearts, a brilliant mind and an outrageous sense of humor,” Charlene wrote. “It was my honor to love and be loved so tenderly by Tony for more than 25 years.

“Semper Fi my Tonyness,” she signed it. “Your beloved Charlene .”

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.