June 22, 2018
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Most MDI groups get promised money from Astor estate

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Five years after Brooke Astor’s death, as officials in New York continue to sort through the execution of her will, some Maine organizations still are not sure how much money they will receive as a result of her final act of largesse.

Astor summered in the local village of Northeast Harbor for decades before she died in 2007 at the age of 105. She gave away $200 million during her lifetime, including some to organizations on Mount Desert Island. Astor left money in her will to College of the Atlantic, Asticou Azalea Garden, Northeast Harbor Library, and to Saint Mary’s and Saint Jude’s Parish.

This past summer, the garden, church parish and library received funds they were promised in her will. COA and the Maine Community Foundation, which is administering a fund established in Astor’s will for the benefit of high school students from Northeast Harbor, do not yet know the final amounts they will receive.

This week, an auction was held on the contents of Astor’s former homes in New York City and in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. The auction raised $18.8 million, part of which is expected to go to COA and to the student fund.

Delays in sorting through large, complicated estates are common, officials said, but the execution of Astor’s will was complicated by a dispute over Astor’s guardianship as she faded into dementia late in her life and then by criminal charges that were filed against her son Anthony Marshall.

Marshall was accused by relatives of plundering Astor’s estate after he took over her financial affairs in the 2000s.

Marshall, 87, was convicted in 2009 of taking advantage of his mother’s dementia, partly by engineering changes to her will. He is appealing the conviction. Marshall’s wife, former local resident Charlene Marshall, has not been charged with any criminal behavior.

The church parish, library and garden each received money they were promised in Astor’s will, plus approximately 13 percent interest generated by the legal delays. The garden received $100,000, plus about $13,000 in interest; the library $50,000 plus roughly $6,500 in interest; and the parish $25,000 plus approximately $3,000 in interest. Those amounts are consistent with the amounts listed in the will that was publicized in the weeks after Astor passed away.

The will did not name specific dollar amounts for COA or for the high school student fund. Each was to receive 1 percent of the value of her estate.

Donna Gold, spokeswoman for COA, said Thursday that the school has not yet received any money from Astor’s estate and is not sure how much it will receive.

Jennifer Southard of Maine Community Foundation said Thursday that the foundation has received $300,000 so far, which is likely to end up being about half the total amount the fund will get. She said the foundation estimates that it will receive another $300,000 to $350,000 for the fund in the next six months or so.

“The final dollar figure is not clear,” Southard said.

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