Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. Bond Transfer signed by Ana Alice Muriel AstorInv# AG2183 Bond
Ava Alice Muriel Astor (July 7, 1902 – July 19, 1956) was an American heiress, socialite, and member of the Astor family. She was the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing, and sister of Vincent Astor and half-sister of John Jacob Astor VI.
Ava Astor was born on July 7, 1902, in Manhattan, New York. She was the only daughter of Colonel John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV (1864–1912) and Ava Lowle Willing (1868–1958). Her paternal grandparents were real estate businessman and race horse breeder/owner William Backhouse Astor, Jr. (1829–1892) and socialite Caroline Webster "Lina" Schermerhorn (1830–1908), while her maternal grandparents were businessman Edward Shippen Willing (1822–1906) and socialite Alice Bell Barton (1833–1903).
In September 1911, Ava and her mother moved to England. They lived in her townhouse on Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, London (from October–April) and her country estate, Sutton Place in Guildford, Surrey (from May–September), and she was educated at Notting Hill High School.
On July 24, 1924, Ava Astor married Prince Sergei Platonovich "Serge" Obolensky, son of General Platon Sergeyevich Obolensky and Maria Konstantinovna Naryshkina, at Savoy Chapel in London. The marriage was considered the event of the season in England that year.
Her brother Vincent gave her a Palladian Revival stone residence on his estate near Rhinebeck, New York. The house was north of his own "Ferncliff Casino" ("Astor Courts") and also overlooked the Hudson River. Ava named it "Marienruh" and retained it through her life. Before divorcing Serge in 1932, they had two children:
- Prince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky (15 May 1925 – 29 January 2019) he married, Claire McGinnis on 10 October 1949 and they were divorced in 1956. He married Mary Elizabeth Morris in 1959.
- Princess Sylvia Sergeyevna Obolensky (18 May 1931 – 27 June 1997), she married Jean-Louis Ganshof van der Meersch on 1 November 1950 and they were divorced on 2 August 1957. She remarried Prince Azamat Kadir Guirey on 11 August 1957 and they were divorced in 1963. They have three children:
- Princess Selima Guirey (15 January 1960)
- Prince Kadir Devlet Guirey (29 March 1961)
- Prince Adil Sagat Guirey (6 March 1964)
On January 21, 1933, she married Raimund von Hofmannsthal (1906–1974), son of Gertrud Schlesinger and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, an Austrian novelist, librettist, and dramatist. The couple was married in the city court of Newark, New Jersey. Together, the couple had a daughter:
- Romana von Hofmannsthal (1935]–16 October 2014) she married Roderick McEwen (son of Sir John McEwen, 1st Baronet) on 15 April 1958. They have four children.
From 1936–1937, she had an affair with English choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton (1904–1988), despite the fact that he was gay. After the affair ended, her love for him continued, though she had two subsequent marriages, both to gay Englishmen. Ava and Raimund eventually divorced in 1939, and Raimund later married Lady Elizabeth Paget.
On March 27, 1940, she married Philip John Ryves Harding (1906–1972), a journalist, in Faversham, England. At the time of their wedding, Harding, a cousin of Maxwell Eley, was serving with an anti-aircraft battery in the British Army. Before their divorce in 1945, they had one daughter:
- Emily Sophia Harding (28 December 1941 – 8 September 2019) she married Michael Zimmer on 29 June 1963. They have one son. She married Eric Glanbard. In 2017 she married Clark Murray.
- Jacob Zimmer (1967)
On May 12, 1946, she had her fourth and final marriage to David Pleydell-Bouverie (1911—1994), the grandson of William Pleydell-Bouverie, 5th Earl of Radnor, in Reading, Vermont. Pleydell-Bouverie was an architect who studied at Charterhouse School in England. The couple resided in New York City and Glen Ellen, California, before divorcing in 1952.
Astor died of a stroke in her 219 East Sixty-first Street apartment, Manhattan, New York City, on July 19, 1956 at age 54. She predeceased her mother by two years. She was a patron of the arts, including the ballet companies of London and New York City.
Her will was admitted to probate on November 5, 1956, in Manhattan Surrogate Court. Her assets, totaling $5,305,000, (equivalent to approximately $49,887,778 in 2019 dollars) were divided among her four children. At her mother's death in 1958, her children received an additional $2,500,000 (equivalent to approximately $22,153,979 in 2019 dollars)
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