Nasty, Brutish & Short

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How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is, to have a thankless child

July 26, 2006 09:25 PM

What do former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Chase Manhattan C.E.O. David Rockefeller and Oscar de la Renta's wife Annette have in common?

They have all filed affidavits alleging that Brooke Astor's son is denying care to his 104 year-old mother.  Mrs. Astor is one of the most respected and beloved philanthropists in the United States, and a New York City legend.  Now aged and unwell, Mrs. Astor lives in her Park Avenue home with the help of nurses.  The New York Daily news has the appalling details.  Among them:

"Her bedroom is so cold in the winter that my grandmother is forced to sleep in the TV room in torn nightgowns on a filthy couch that smells, probably from dog urine," according to the affidavit.

Her grandson is leading the charge, against his father, who pays himself $2.3 million per year to ensure that Mrs. Astor has proper care.  She is also being denied medicine, and her nurses are using their own money to purchase toiletries for her.  All for a woman who was once one of the most well-dressed and generous women of her time.  Amazing that this should reach such a point that the grandson--and Kissinger, Rockefeller and de la Renta--would have to seek court intervention.  Perhaps the son thinks she was too generous with the family money?

UPDATE: The post's title is from Shakespeare.  King Lear in particular.  But of course you already knew that.