Near midnight on August 11, Anthony Marshall and his wife, Charlene, approached the front door of Holly Hill, the Westchester estate that belonged to his mother, Brooke Astor, who was dying. As they drew close, Mrs. Astor's British butler posted himself in the doorway and shot his arms to the sides.
"You can't come in here," he told Charlene. "I have my instructions."
The instructions had been issued by Annette de la Renta, Brooke's dear friend and now Tony's adversary. The State Supreme Court in Manhattan had awarded her control over Brooke's final days after Tony's own son Philip charged that Tony had abused Brooke, denying her the care she needed. The accusations transformed Tony into a tabloid villain, the greedy, mean-spirited son of society's grande dame. Now he was vilified even by the butler, whom he'd once fired and whom Annette swiftly rehired.