Former Metropolitan Museum of Art head honcho Philippe de Montebello showed up in an usual place this week, in a New York courtroom testifying as part of the ongoing legal battle surrounding the fortune of deceased socialite Brooke Astor. If you haven’t been following the tabloids, the basic gist of the fight is over whether or not Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, swindled every dime he could from his mother before her passing in 2007, the question being whether or not she had her full mental capacities at the time he was having her change her will and hand him bundles of money. de Montebello was called to talk about an instance in 2004 when he had lunch with Astor to prove that she had already begun losing her facilities, saying that she did not recognize him at all, despite having constantly donated to the Met in the decades prior:
“She was basically looking at me and saying, ‘Who are you?'” de Montebello testified.
Also introduced into evidence was a thank-you letter Astor sent to de Montebello in January 2001. She signed it, in a very shaky hand, “As always, your very devoted Brooke.”
Below that, Astor scribbled, “My hand is awful — hardly can hold a pen!!”
The note is potentially important evidence against [possible accomplice Francis Morrissey], who is charged with forging Astor’s signature on a March 2004 will update that benefited Marshall.