Tuesday, November 27, 2007


New York Daily News (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) NEW YORK

Before marrying Brooke Astor's only son, Charlene Marshall had just $28 in her checking account when she divorced her first husband, according to court documents obtained by the New York Daily News.

Marshall and soon-to-be-ex-husband Paul Gilbert weren't saving much either: They had only $550 in a savings account. They owned three cars: a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit, a 1986 Honda Civic and a 1988 Volkswagen Fox. The latter two were still being paid off.They also carried $2,800 in debt on two credit cards.

She was so broke that she had to take out a $7,000 loan just to bankroll her move to New York the loan payments shared by her and Gilbert, according to Maine court records. Her life changed drastically when she wed Anthony Marshall, Astor's son, and some would say Astor's quality-of-life changed for the worse. Anthony Marshall has been accused in a lawsuit by his own son of mistreating Astor, enriching himself and his wife while cutting back on her most basic needs everything from medical care to clothing, even refusing to buy her nonskid socks."It is not so much that Tony is not a nice person, it is being driven by the wife," said a source familiar with the family.

Neither Marshall nor his wife would comment yesterday, but her divorce records in Maine painted a clear picture as to how different her nowprivileged life once was. Charlene Marshall and the Rev. Paul Gilbert were wed in South Carolina on Aug. 24, 1968. They had three children and lived in a church rectory in downtown Northeast Harbor, a humble two-story house with white siding and a front porch. But on Oct. 2, 1989, Marshall moved out of the house, and she filed for divorce three days later, saying there were "marital differences between the parties which are irreconcilable and the marriage has broken down."

Gilbert, who declined to comment, earned $27,000 a year, and Marshall listed her occupation as "housewife."When Marshall moved to New York, she left her three children, Robert, Inness and Arden, with their father. Robert, the youngest, was just shy of his 13th birthday.The divorce was granted Jan. 24, 1990, and Charlene agreed to pay unspecified child support for the youngest two, who were under 18, but the amount was reduced because "of the high costs of living currently facing the wife."

Their biggest asset was a 4.4-acre piece of property they had bought for $200,000 in 1986, according to court records. Charlene later bought out her ex-husband's half and built a three-bedroom home. The property is now worth about $1.1 million.She married Astor's son, Anthony Marshall, after his then-wife, Thelma, divorced him in 1992. Marshall and Charlene met in Northeast Harbor's social circles and wed soon after his divorce. They began hobnobbing with Martha Stewart, who also has a Maine home.

A spotlight was put on the Marshalls' marriage after his son, Philip Marshall, filed suit.It was revealed that Astor signed over a Maine estate valued at $5 million to her son in 2003, and he later signed it over to Charlene, according to court papers. The source familiar with the Astor family also said that a favorite painting of Astor's that used to hang in the library of her Park Ave. apartment was sold within the last five or 10 years, after her son convinced her she was broke. The painting, Childe Hassam's "Flags, Fifth Avenue," was sold to a private buyer."I know that it was a painting that she loved and she sold it for $8 million and she didn't want to.

She was going on the advice of her son," the source said.Anthony Marshall did release a statement of support from Whoopi Goldberg, who once lived in the same building as the Marshalls."These are people for whom I have the deepest respect," Goldberg said. "What I know of this couple does not give me any reason to doubt the ridiculousness of these allegations against them." ___(c) 2006, New York Daily News.Visit the Daily News online at http://www.nydailynews.com/


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Gilbert, who declined to comment, earned $27,000 a year, and Marshall listed her occupation as "housewife.

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