Ava Alice Muriel Astor

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Ava Alice Muriel Astor
Ava Alice Muriel Astor.jpg
Astor circa 1920s
Ava Alice Muriel Astor

(1902-07-07)July 7, 1902
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 19, 1956(1956-07-19) (aged 54)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Resting placeRhinebeck Cemetery, Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, U.S.[1]
Net worthIncrease US $5,305,000 (equivalent to approximately $49,887,778 in 2019 dollars)[2]
(m. 1924; div. 1932)

Raimund von Hofmannsthal
(m. 1933; div. 1939)

Philip John Ryves Harding
(m. 1940; div. 1945)

David Pleydell-Bouverie
(m. 1946; div. 1952)
ChildrenPrince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky
Princess Sylvia Sergeyevna Obolensky
Romana von Hofmannsthal
Emily Edwina Harding
Parent(s)John Jacob Astor IV
Ava Lowle Willing
RelativesSee Astor family

Ava Alice Muriel Astor (July 7, 1902 – July 19, 1956) was an American heiress, socialite, and member of the Astor family.[3] 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.

Early life[edit]

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).[4]

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.

Personal life[edit]

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.[5] Ava named it "Marienruh" and retained it through her life.[6] 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),[7] she married Jean-Louis Ganshof van der Meersch on 1 November 1950 and they were divorced on 2 August 1957.[8] She remarried Prince Azamat Kadir Guirey on 11 August 1957 and they were divorced in 1963.[9] 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. He was said to be the father of Sylvia.[10] The couple was married in the city court of Newark, New Jersey.[11] Together, the couple had a daughter:

From 1936 to 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.[15] Ava and Raimund eventually divorced in 1939, and Raimund later married Lady Elizabeth Paget.[16]

On March 27, 1940, she married Philip John Ryves Harding (1906–1972), a journalist, in Faversham, England.[16] At the time of their wedding, Harding, a cousin of Maxwell Eley, was serving with an anti-aircraft battery in the British Army.[16] Before their divorce in 1945, they had one daughter:

  • Emily Sophia Harding (28 December 1941 – 8 September 2019[12]) 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.[17] Pleydell-Bouverie was an architect who studied at Charterhouse School in England.[17] The couple resided in New York City and Glen Ellen, California, before divorcing in 1952.[18]


Ava Astor House, Manhattan

Astor died of a stroke in her 219 East Sixty-first Street apartment, Manhattan, New York City, on July 19, 1956, at age 54.[3] She predeceased her mother by two years.[4] 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)[2] were divided among her four children.[19] At her mother's death in 1958, her children received an additional $2,500,000 (equivalent to approximately $22,153,979 in 2019 dollars)[2][4]


  1. ^ http://www.friendsofrhinebeckcemetery.org/history.html
  2. ^ a b c Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie Dies Here. Daughter of Col. John Jacob Astor. Heiress, a Patron of Ballet Companies, Was 54. Did War Work in Britain". The New York Times. July 20, 1956. Retrieved 2009-02-17. Mrs. Ava Pleydell-Bouverie, the former Ava Alice Muriel Astor, a sister of Vincent Astor, died yesterday of a stroke at her home, 219 East Sixty-first Street. She had a country home in Rhinebeck, NY.
  4. ^ a b c Times, Special To The New York (14 June 1958). "Lady Ribblesdale Leaves $3,000,000". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Luxist". Luxist.com. 2010-06-21. Archived from the original on 2013-09-23. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  6. ^ "An Astor Legacy fit for celebrating Chelsea Clinton's wedding". New York Social Diary. 2010-07-08. Archived from the original on 2014-07-09. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  7. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths GUIREY, SYLVIA OBOLENSKY". The New York Times. 1 July 1997. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  8. ^ Saint-Gilles, Belgium, July 14, 1924 – Le Temple, Lacanau, France August 22, 1982
  9. ^ New York, New York County, New York, August 14, 1924 – The Bahamas, August 8, 2001
  10. ^ "Guirey [née Obolensky], Princess Sylvia (1931–1997), artist and art patron". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/67153. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  11. ^ "Astor Heiress Wed Quietly in Jersey. Princess Obolensky Becomes Bride of Raimund von Hof-mannsthal of Austria. Troth Not Announced. Ceremony Performed Saturday by Police Court Judge. Couple Left Immediately for Europe". The New York Times. January 24, 1933. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  12. ^ a b "Person Page". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  13. ^ Times, Special To The New York (22 October 1957). "Niece Of Astor Is Future Bride. Romana von Hofmannstahl Engaged to Rory McEwen, Spectator's Art Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  14. ^ Times, Special To The New York (16 April 1958). "Niece of Astor Wed in London To Art Director; Miss von Hofmannsthal Is Married to Roderick McEwen of Spectator". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  15. ^ Kaplan, Fred (1999). Gore Vidal : a biography. New York: Doubleday. p. 318. ISBN 0385477031.
  16. ^ a b c "Astor Heiress Wed To Philip Harding. Mrs. Ava von Hofmannsthal British Journalist's Bride". The New York Times. March 29, 1940. Retrieved 2009-02-17. The marriage of Mrs. Ava von Hofmannsthal, the former Miss Ava Astor, daughter of John Jacob Astor IV, who was lost on the Titanic, and of Lady Ribblesdale. ...
  17. ^ a b "Mrs. Ava Harding Is Wed In Vermont. Daughter of Lady Ribblesdale and Late Col. Astor Bride of David Pleydell-Bouverie". The New York Times. May 15, 1946. Retrieved 2009-02-17. Mrs. Ava Alice Muriel Astor Harding, only daughter of Lady Ribblesdale and the late Col. John Jacob Astor, who was lost on the Titanic, was married Sunday in Reading, Vt., to David Pleydell-Bouverie of this city and Glen Ellen, Calif., it was announced here yesterday. This is the fourth marriage for the bride, who is a sister of Vincent Astor
  18. ^ "Person Page". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  19. ^ "Lost Will Disposes Of $5,305,000 Estate". The New York Times. November 6, 1956. Retrieved 2009-02-17. Surrogate William T. Collins admitted to probate yesterday the lost will of Mrs. Ava Pleydell-Bouverie, which disposes of her $5,305,000 estate. She was the sister of Vincent Astor.