Brooke Astor was among the last of the “Grand Dames” of New York matron society. When she lent her name and her financial support to an institution, the endorsement was a seal of approval that inspired the generosity of others. Married for the third time to Vincent Astor, the son of John Jacob Astor IV who died on the Titanic, she led a life devoted to philanthropy and taking pleasure in parties most of us only get to read about the next morning. She did all of this until age of one hundred, perhaps a wee bit longer, and passed away at 105 in 2007. In her will, her tombstone was to say simply that, “I had a wonderful life.”
Evidence of Mrs. Astor’s pleasurable days also take tangible form in the way she decorated her homes, the art she enjoyed, and yes, her jewelry too. The lion brooch below is reminiscent of the familiar statuary standing guard outside the New York Public Library, an institution that Mrs. Astor supported and in fact will be among the several organizations benefitting from the sale of her property in September. I look forward to sharing more images of Mrs. Astor’s collection with you in the near future.