The Brooke Astor trial is in full swing in New York County Supreme Court . The range of relevant articles published over the past ten days in the New York Times is so broad that I have simply provided a link to all of the Times stories published since the beginning of the month. The criminal trial of Brooke Astor’s son Anthony Marshall and her former attorney Frank Morrissey for allegedly forging her will and looting her estate truly has something for everyone.

A parade of A-list witnesses including author Louis Auchincloss, former Metropolitan Museaum of Art director Phillippe de Montebello and Annette de La Renta have all testified as to the steady decline of the late heiress as Alzheimer’s took its toll. The prosecution is seeking to establish that as the centenarian socialite became incompetent, her son and her attorney plundered her wealth and forged a codicil to her will. Even though her physician attested that her personal staff was doing their best to help her mask the evidence of her decline, he had provided detailed information to Mr. Marshall about his mother’s condition after administering a series of tests to her in 2000.

Even though Marshall allegedly was made aware of his mother’s condition, he was accused of having horribly mistreated her, leaving her alone , unable to care for herself,and in her own filth in her  residence. In an earlier guardianship proceeding brought by Marshall’s own son Philip which was heard by Supreme Court Justice John E H Stackhouse , the misconduct of Anthony Marshall and Mr. Morrissey was first brought to light and resulted in financial and personal guardians being appointed to care for Ms. Astor and conserve her wealth.

There has also been substantial testimony that Marshall’s wife Charlene had been well aware of what was being done to her mother-in-law but did nothing to prevent this and , in fact, is now being painted as one of the villians in this story — obviously if everything had gone according to her husband’s plan, she might well have been enriched to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

In the midst of this shocking and often bizarre tale came an odd twist that Brooke Astor herself had been the target of accusations fifty years ago that she had unjustly influenced her own father when his will had been drawn and that this provided her with the inheritance which was the cornerstone of much of her current wealth which her son now stands accused of trying to steal. 

Sunday’s Times carries an interesting sidelight of the proceedings in an article featuring the trial judge, Acting Supreme Court Justice A. Kirke Bartley who has the unenviable task of keeping this massive trial on track and navigating through the testimony of celebrity witnesses and equally famous (and quite competent ) counsel. Evidently, the judge has a sharp and extremely dry sense of humor which has provided comic relief to  participants and spectators while helping him to deal with a high stakes trial which could result in lengthy prison terms for the defendants.

There is plenty left to go in this trial before the jury begins to deliberate. Stay tuned for details