July 09, 2020

Court orders transfer of MDI estate Astor’s son to take back Cove End mansion, land

MOUNT DESERT – The wife of longtime summer resident Brooke Astor’s son has been ordered by a New York judge to give up ownership of the $6 million estate and return it to her husband, according to New York media reports.

New York Supreme Court Justice John Stackhouse has ordered Charlene Marshall to cede ownership of the Cove End mansion and several abutting properties back to her 82-year-old husband, Anthony Marshall. As of late last week, the court-ordered property transfers had not yet been recorded at the Hancock County Registry of Deeds in Ellsworth.

The transfers will enable JP Morgan Chase to use the properties as leverage against Marshall, who is Astor’s son, should the bank decide to pursue financial mismanagement claims against him after his mother dies, The New York Times and New York Daily News reported.

The Marshalls will have to pay $1.53 million to cover interest and penalties relating to tax returns that Anthony Marshall prepared on his mother’s behalf. The couple also will have to return paintings, artwork, family silver, diamond jewelry, and a 10-carat diamond ring to the bank, according to the New York Daily News.

In a settlement reached earlier this month, Stackhouse gave Annette de la Renta and JP Morgan Chase permanent guardianship over Brooke Astor, 104, who is no longer competent to manage her own affairs. Astor’s son had been serving as her financial manager until his son, 54-year-old Philip Marshall, charged in court papers this past summer that his father was neglecting Astor and using his role as her financial manager to enrich himself and his wife, according to news reports.

In May of 2003, ownership of Brooke Astor’s Northeast Harbor estate was transferred to Anthony Marshall, who is Astor’s son from her first marriage to John Dryden Kuser.

A few months later, Marshall transferred ownership of the properties to his wife, Charlene Marshall, according to documents on file at the Hancock County Registry of Deeds in Ellsworth. Former Northeast Harbor resident Charlene Marshall was married to Paul E. Gilbert, a local Episcopal priest, before their divorce in 1990. Two years later she married Anthony Marshall, the prospective heir to the family fortune established in the late 1700s by John Jacob Astor.

Among the accusations leveled in the family dispute was that Astor had been reduced to sleeping in a ragged gown on a filthy couch and was subsisting on pureed peas and oatmeal. Anthony Marshall has vigorously denied neglecting his mother.

JP Morgan Chase and Annette de la Renta, wife of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, were given temporary guardianship over Astor and her affairs after Philip Marshall filed his court complaint.

De la Renta, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller – also a longtime summer resident of Mount Desert – each filed affidavits in support of Philip Marshall’s concerns about his grandmother.

More than four decades ago, Astor became the grand dame of New York society, in part by donating an estimated $200 million to charitable causes and nonprofit organizations such as the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the Bronx Zoo and the Museum of Natural History, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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