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Brooke Astor on the Auction Block

Getty Images, photo by Slavin Vlasic

Brooke Astor, who was an American socialite and chairwoman of the Vincent Astor foundation, will have her possessions auctioned off to the highest bidder. The late Mrs. Astor, who died in 2007, had a passion for collecting a wide variety of items that were not only elegant but whimsical as well. Items from her Park Avenue residence will be auctioned off September 24-25 at Sotheby’s with estimate value of $6.6 million.


Brooke Astor was the wife of Vincent Astor who was the great-great grandson of America’s first multi-millionaire, John Jacob Astor. She was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire but spent much of her childhood in China, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She was appointed a member of the board of the Astor Foundation and upon the death of her husband Vincent became chairperson. She served as trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is credited with the idea for a Chinese garden courtyard in the Met. She was involved  in numerous organizations like the Lighthouse for the Blind, the Astor Home for emotionally disturbed children, the International rescue Committee, the Fresh Air Fund and many more.

Mrs. Astor passed away in August 2007 at the age of 105. There had been a dispute over the family fortune between her son and grandson, regarding the welfare of Brooke. With that seemingly settled, the auction got underway. Some of the items on the auction block include an emerald and diamond necklace and ring she wore to dinner with President Johnson at a price of $250,000-$350,000, an oil painting by John Fredrick Lewis dating from 1868 at $300-$500,000. 901 objects, from European paintings to silver wear will be auctioned off. Not everything is over-the-top expensive with two needle point pictures estimated at $200 and a group of four large white tin-glazed earthenware hounds estimated at $2,000. Two of Brooke Astor’s famous quotes tell a lot about the lady and the good she used her money for; ‘Power is the ability to do good things for others’ and ‘money is like manure; it should be spread around’.

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