Once upon a time, Brooke Astor was the queen of New York. The high priestess of high society was one of the original Ladies Who Lunched, but reigning over the Upper East Side was not all that Brooke Astor was passionate about. The society hostess pioneered and promoted civic service and philanthropic giving as a fashionable pastime for the upper crust ladies of New York.
Mrs. Astor’s choicest cause was helping animals, and one of her favorite charities was the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan. This organization, along with the New York Public Library and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will benefit from the sale of Brooke Astor’s estate on September 24th and 25th at Sotheby’s.
The auction features 901 lots comprised of the contents of Mrs. Astor’s two homes in Manhattan and her Holly Hill estate in Westchester. One, her Park Avenue duplex, is the stuff of Manhattan legend. Gaining an invitation to Brooke Astor’s apartment meant you had made it in Manhattan, and dinner parties often mingled literary figures with presidents and real estate tycoons. In particular, Mrs. Astor’s famous library, designed by Albert Hadley, is attracting a lot of attention – its famed contents are expected to fetch great sums.
In addition to her excellent decorating taste (or at least her excellent taste in decorators) Mrs. Astor was renowned for her style. And in addition to Louis XV furniture, first editions of literary classics and art by the Great Masters, Sotheby’s is auctioning off some of Mrs. Astor’s most fabulous jewels (including a selection of her Van Cleef and Arpels addiction)
The auction is unfortunately the result of a scheming son who attempted to swindle millions for Mrs. Astor, who suffered from dementia late in her life. However, after a lengthy court battle, the antiques, art and jewels were returned and the Brooke Astor auction will now benefit some of her most favorite causes.
Sotheby’s Auctions Brooke Astor’s Treasures Brooke Astor’s Books (and Book Objects) at Auction Spotlight on: Van Cleef and Arpels