November 27, 2007

The Astor Family Saga, Abu Dhabi Gives Citigroup Some Spare Change, and the Decline of the New York Empire Within 24 Hours

The Manhattan D.A.'s office, in a script destined for Law & Order, will hold a news briefing today on the indictments of Anthony D. Marshall, 83, the only son of the late great Brooke Astor, and attorney Francis X. Morrissey Jr.* The briefing should reveal more specifics on the pending criminal charges against the two, the result of a grand jury investigation into the mishandling of Mrs. Astor's affairs and will. Philip Marshall, the son of Anthony Marshall, first raised the allegations that his father took advantage of his ailing grandmother and her fortune.

The painting at left, Childe Hassam's Up the Avenue from Thirty-Fourth Street, May 1917, also known as Flags, Fifth Avenue (1917)* plays an important role in the Astor family saga. Andrew Marshall sold the painting, one of his mother's favorites, for $10 million, and collecting a $2 million fee from his mother for all the bother. Personally, I would love to have this painting in my living room, so I would be royally pissed, as we say in my country, if a family member wanted to sell it.

The Hassam painting below, Lower Manhattan (1907, oil on canvas, Cornell University), depicts a crowd gathered in the Financial District. I plan to return there today so I can finish the feature, Walking Off the Wall Streets Bears, and help raise the spirits of the Street.

Yesterday, Citigroup announced that the oil-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has pumped $7.5 billion worth of cash into its tank. The good news may help Wall Street recover some of the dramatic losses from yesterday's trading. A consumer confidence report will be released at 10 a.m. Personally I am feeling confident, not as a consumer, but that I should be exploring my next flâneur career in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

* When I read that Marshall and Morrissey partnered as producers on Broadway, I immediately thought of them as Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom from Mel Brooks's The Producers.

* For additional events from the Spring of 1917, as reported in these pages, please follow the links here and here.

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