Anthony Marshall, Astor Heir Jailed for Will Fraud, Dies at 90

Anthony Marshall, the son and heir of New York philanthropist Brooke Astor who went to prison at age 89 for his handling of her estate, has died. He was 90.

He died on Nov. 30 at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, his lawyer, Kenneth E. Warner, said yesterday in an e-mail. No cause was given.

Marshall was a former U.S. ambassador who said he had worked on the CIA’s U-2 spy-plane program in the 1950s. He was best known as the only child of Astor, a socialite who was a major funder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York Public Library.

Controversy swirled over her fortune for several years before her death in 2007 at age 105, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Her will was changed several times in the years leading up to her death to give Marshall a bigger share of her fortune, valued by the New York State Attorney General at more than $100 million.

Marshall was co-executor of the estate and also managed his mother’s finances for many years. Marshall was initially investigated for elder abuse. No charges stemmed from that, though Marshall and an Astor family lawyer, Francis X. Morrissey Jr., were convicted in 2009 on charges including grand larceny over changes to the will.

After a rejected appeal, Marshall received a sentence of one to three years in prison and reported on June 21, 2013. He was released on medical parole two months later.

Family Tree

Anthony Dryden Marshall was born May 30, 1924, in Manhattan, according to a birth announcement in the New York Herald Tribune. His father was J. Dryden Kuser, the first husband of the former Roberta Brooke Russell. A high-living scion of a family that included the founder of Prudential Insurance Co., Kuser also served as a New Jersey state senator.

The future Brooke Astor was the daughter of a Marine Corps commandant and just 17 when she married Kuser in 1919. It was a tumultuous marriage in which, she later wrote, her husband pushed her down the stairs when she was pregnant. She moved to Reno in 1929 and divorced him. Three years later, she married investment banker Charles Henry Marshall.

Anthony Kuser took Marshall’s name, though he was never formally adopted, according to “The Last Mrs. Astor,” a 2007 biography by Frances Kiernan.

Charles Marshall died in 1952, and the next year she married Vincent Astor, an heir to one of the largest real estate fortunes in the U.S.

Estate Valuation

In ironic foreshadowing, Brooke Astor was sued by Vincent Astor’s half-brother, John Jacob Astor VI, for persuading Vincent to amend his will in her favor when he was ill in 1958. After pretrial hearings, John Jacob Astor settled his claim for $250,000, according to “The Last Mrs. Astor.” The estate was valued at $127 million.

Anthony Marshall attended private schools and enlisted in the Marines at 18, becoming a captain and earning a Purple Heart for a leg wound during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He attended Brown University, graduating in 1950, the university confirmed.

He worked at the State Department in the 1950s and at the Central Intelligence Agency, where -- in addition to helping administer the U-2 program -- he was stationed in Turkey as an undercover CIA recruiter, he said in a 1998 oral history for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.

Starting in 1960, Marshall was president of African Research & Development Co., which invested in enterprises such as Nigerian Doughnut Co., based in Lagos and partnered with U.S. companies doing business in Africa.

Diplomatic Career

In 1969, he was appointed ambassador to the Malagasy Republic -- now known as Madagascar -- which ejected him in 1971 after the country’s president accused him of fomenting a coup.

Marshall went on to serve as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago; Kenya; and the Seychelles, according to State Department records.

Marshall helped his mother manage her money and, in later years, took a salary for his services. He produced plays on Broadway, including “Alice in Wonderland,” a flop that closed in 1983 after 21 performances, and two Tony-winning hits, the 2003 best revival winner “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and the 2004 best play winner “I Am My Own Wife.”

In 2006, Marshall’s son Philip Marshall filed suit alleging Marshall mistreated the ailing Astor, his grandmother, and mismanaged her funds. Later that year, a settlement was reached in which a new guardian was appointed. After Astor died, he was indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney for fraud and larceny.

Star Witnesses

The trial generated banner headlines and featured star witnesses testifying on behalf of Astor, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and NBC anchor Barbara Walters. Marshall was convicted on 14 of 16 counts.

Marshall was married in 1947 to Elizabeth Cynthia Cryan, with whom he had two sons, Alexander Russell Marshall and Philip Cryan Marshall. They divorced and, in 1962, he married Thelma Hoegnell. After that marriage ended in divorce, Marshall married Charlene Gilbert in 1992.

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