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The Book

“Meryl Gordon’s riveting account of the legendary life and sad final days of Brooke Astor is an American epic. It’s all here — high society, big money, blue blood, family feuds and criminal charges.”
Tom Brokaw, author of “The Greatest Generation”

Meryl Gordon, the author of “Mrs. Astor Regrets,” is a veteran magazine writer who has spent the past two years investigating the controversy over the legendary philanthropist Brooke Astor’s care and $200 million fortune.

From Park Avenue co-ops to the board room at the Metropolitan Museum to the elite summer resort of Northeast Harbor, Maine, she has sought out Mrs. Astor’s family members, friends, courtiers and servants to solve the mystery of what led this famous family to fall apart in public.

Ever since Brooke Astor’s grandson, Philip Marshall, went to court in July 2006 and accused his father, Tony Marshall, of neglecting Brooke and allowing her to live in squalor, this saga has seized public attention not just from Manhattan to the Bronx but from London to Australia to the South China seas. Meryl Gordon went behind-the-headlines to interview 230 people, many of whom have not spoken to any other reporter, and came away with a treasure trove of anecdotes and exclusive documents.

Brooke Astor died in August 2007 at her country home, Holly Hill, in Westchester, and is buried next to her husband, Vincent Astor, in serene Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. But the ferocious fight over her estate and her legacy continues.

Her son Tony Marshall, age 84, has been indicted in criminal court for looting his mother’s fortune, and faces 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges. Meanwhile, Brooke Astor’s favorite charities such as the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum are challenging the legitimacy of her will in surrogate’s court. With no end in sight, these legal free-for-alls could rival “Bleak House,” with lawyers as the major beneficiaries.

For those intrigued by a thoroughly-reported look at a privileged world of society, “Mrs. Astor Regrets” illuminates the secrets and betrayals of this storied family.