Brooke Astor’s estate is up for auction, with all proceeds going to charity. Astor, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 105, was the dame of New York City — a woman who was a philanthropist, host, and friend to kings, queens, and other world leaders.
Sotheby’s will be offering the contents of both of Astor’s homes at a two day auction on Monday and Tuesday. The collection includes 901 objects ranging from European and American furnishings to silverware, jewelry, more than 100 dog paintings, and the uniforms of her domestic staff, notes The New York Daily News.
In keeping with her wishes, as well as her life’s motto that “money is like manure; it should be spread around,” all proceeds will go to the institutions and causes she supported. These institutions include what Brooke Astor called New York City’s crown jewels — the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo, and Central Park — along with the Animal Medical Center of New York, New York City’s public schools, and charities in Maine.
The entire collection is expected to fetch between $6 million and $9 million, according to Fox News, and comes after a nasty family feud involving her only son, Anthony Marshall. The dispute lasted five years and ended in March with a settlement that gave $100 million to Brooke Astor’s charities, cutting in half the amount that was supposed to go to Marshall.
Marshall was ultimately convicted of taking advantage of his mother’s dementia and engineering changes in her will. Astor spent her life giving away part of the fortune her third husband left her to use where it would do the most good in alleviating human misery. For her efforts, she was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Elaine Whitmire, vice chairman of Sotheby’s single-owner collections, stated of Astor’s collection:
“This is a woman who surrounded herself with the things that she loved. You can see it in the upholstery, you can see it in the porcelain that she used, floral, animal and Asian-inspired. You see not only paintings of dogs, but also sculptures of camels, bulls and pigs. She clearly adored animals, and that passion was reflected not only in her residences … they were also the passions of her philanthropic legacy.”
While Brooke Astors two massive homes were decorated by high-society designer Sister Parish, Whitmire stated that it’s Astor’s personality that shines through in her former houses and also in her collection.