My final installment of the long-running Astor saga appears in December’s Vanity Fair as I talk with the jurors who convicted Tony Marshall and Frank Morrissey. The article appears 39 months after my first New York magazine piece about the legal fight over the care of Brooke Astor — and it is difficult to let go of a story that has been the centerpiece of my work (and my after-work thoughts) for so long. But I do plan to be in the courtroom on December 21 (tentative date) when Tony Marshall and Frank Morrissey are to be sentenced. And, by the way, have i mentioned that the paperback edition of Mrs. Astor Regrets (with a new chapter on the trial) would make the perfect Christmas gift.
After a 19-week trial, both defendents were convicted Thursday afternoon on major felony counts that will guarantee jail time, unless overturned on appeal. Here is a link to Meryl Gordon discussing the verdict on NPR. She will also be interviewed at length about the verdict on ABC’s 20/20 Friday night at 10 pm Eastern. Here is a link to a promo for the segment. And Meryl will be writing about the verdict for the December issue of Vanity Fair. There is also a new chapter, covering most of the details of the trial, in the just-published paperback editon of Mrs. Astor Regrets.
The paperback version of Mrs. Astor Regrets, with a bonus chapter on the Tony Marshall trial, has just arrived in book stores and is available on Amazon.com for immediate shipping.
The jurors have been deliberating since September 22 with courtroom speculation that they could go to Columbus Day, although, of course, the verdict can come at any moment. Tony and Charlene Marshall, along with Francis Morrissey, now spend their days either sitting in the nearly empty courtroom or in the hallway outside room 1536 of Manhattan’s criminal courts building. The mood of the defendants shifts by the hour with Tony Marshall (distracting himself with a Balzac novel in French) often looking particularly frail. The only real trial news last week came with the the arraignment in the same building of David Letterman’s alleged extortionist and a building-wide lock-down after a prisoner escaped. I remain in the courtroom covering the verdict for Vanity Fair.
I have been covering the ongoing Astor trial for Vanity Fair (and for my upcoming paperback edition of Mrs. Astor Regrets) with new detailed interviews with key players including a dismissed juror. My interim report on the trial is featured in the September issue of Vanity Fair available on a newsstand near you. Keep watching this space for updates on the trial, which is scheduled to resume right after Labor Day.
In conjunction with the paperback edition of Mrs. Astor Regrets coming this fall with a new epilogue, I will be posting a Reader’s Guide on this site. So if your book club is looking for an affordable book for the fall, check back here for the hot-off-the-press Reader’s Guide.
The Astor trial, which began on April 27th, heads into its sixth month in September. Justice Kirke Bartley Jr. gave the long-suffering jurors a two week vacation in August, and the trial will resume on September 8th. Tony Marshall and Francis Morrissey’s lawyers are now presenting their defense, with a few more witnesses scheduled. Closing arguments are likely to be the week of September 15th, but this case has dragged on so long that all dates are purely speculative.
Whatever the verdict, Tony Marshall’s legal troubles will not end. As soon as the criminal case is resolved, proceedings will resume in Westchester Surrogate’s Court in the battle over probating Mrs. Astor’s estimated $185-million estate. Lawyers from the Metropolitan Museum and other beneficiaries have been frequent visitors to Room 1536 at 100 Centre Street, watching the criminal trial. At issue in the probate fight is whether Brooke Astor’s 2002 will and its three codicils, under which Tony Marshall is entitled to a very large portion of his mother’s estate, is upheld, or whether the court decides to return to Mrs. Astor’s 1997 will, which leaves more to her favorite charitable institutions. So it will be new courtroom: same characters.
Warren Olney’s interview about “Mrs. Astor Regrets” on the widely broadcast Public Radio International (PRI) show can be downloaded here. The interview is the last 10 minutes of the show.
Mrs. Astor Regrets was reviewed in the January 4 edition of the Book Review. Here is a link to the review.
Weekend Edition just broadcast an extended interview that Scott Simon did about Mrs. Astor Regrets. And even better, NPR quickly put up a link to the audio of the interview. For the video, well, it is radio.