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updated: 9/26/2012 7:06 AM

Brooke Astor home auction fetches $18.8M in NYC

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  • The pre-auction staircase at Brooke Astor's Westchester estate, Holly Hill, in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

      The pre-auction staircase at Brooke Astor's Westchester estate, Holly Hill, in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- An auction of the contents of philanthropist Brooke Astor's two homes brought in over $18.8 million, Sotheby's said Tuesday.

Sotheby's offered 901 objects in all, including European and Asian furnishings, Old Masters, Qing Dynasty paintings, tea sets, silverware, jewelry, a porcelain menagerie, more than 100 dog paintings and even the uniforms of her domestic staff at a two-day auction that began Monday.

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Proceeds will go to institutions and charities, including the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, under a settlement negotiated by the state attorney general's office.

The collection had expected to fetch just $6 million to $9 million.

The sale concluded Tuesday evening with a selection of jewelry from Astor's personal collection. Among the highlights was Astor's emerald engagement ring, which sold for more than $1.2 million.

The auction comes after a nasty family feud involving her only son, Anthony Marshall. The five-year dispute ended in March with a settlement that freed $100 million for her charities and cut by more than half the amount going to Marshall, who was convicted of taking advantage of his mother's dementia, partly by engineering changes to her will. He has appealed.

The dispute had threatened to deplete the entire estate.

Astor spent her life putting the fortune that her third husband, Vincent Astor, left to use where it would do the most to alleviate human misery. Her efforts won her a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1998.

Astor died in 2007 at age 105.

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