Ava Alice Muriel Astor

Ava Alice Muriel Astor
Born (1902-07-07)July 7, 1902
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Died July 19, 1956(1956-07-19) (aged 54)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Net worth Increase US $5,305,000 (equivalent to approximately $46,251,548 in 2016 dollars)[1]
  • Prince Sergei Platonovich Obolensky
    (m. 1924–1932; divorced)
  • Raimund von Hofmannsthal
    (m. 1933–1939; divorced)
  • Philip John Ryves Harding
    (m. 1940–1945)
  • David Pleydell-Bouverie
    (m. 1946–1952; divorced)
Prince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky
  • Princess Sylvia Sergeyevna Obolensky
  • Romana von Hofmannsthal
  • Emily Edwina Harding
Parent(s) John Jacob Astor IV
Ava Lowle Willing
Relatives See Astor family

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.

Early life

Ava 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).


Ava Astor married Prince Sergei Platonovich "Serge" Obolensky, son of General Platon Sergeyevich Obolensky and Maria Konstantinovna Naryshkina, on July 24, 1924 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.[2] Ava named it "Marienruh" and retained it through her life.[3] They had a son, Prince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky (born May 15, 1925) and a daughter, Princess Sylvia Sergeyevna Obolensky (May 18, 1931 — June 27, 1997).

After divorcing Serge in 1932, she married Raimund von Hofmannsthal (1906 — March 20, 1974), son of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Gertrud "Gerty" Schlesinger. The couple was married on January 21, 1933, in the city court of Newark, New Jersey.[4] The couple had a daughter, Romana von Hofmannsthal (born c. 1935), who married Roderick McEwen. Raimund later married Lady Elizabeth Paget.

From 1936–1937, she had an affair with English choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, 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.[5]

After divorcing Raimund in 1939, she married Philip John Ryves Harding, a journalist. The wedding took place on March 27, 1940, in Faversham, England.[6] Out of this union, one daughter, Emily Edwina Harding, was born in 1942. Alice and Philip Harding divorced in 1945.

Lastly, she married David Pleydell-Bouverie (born April 20, 1911, the grandson of William Pleydell-Bouverie, 5th Earl of Radnor) on May 12, 1946 in Reading, Vermont.[7] The couple resided in New York City and Glen Ellen, California, before divorcing in 1952.[8]


Astor died of a stroke in Manhattan, New York on July 19, 1956 at age 54.[9] 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 $46,251,548 in 2016 dollars)[1] were divided among her four children.[10]

Names and titles
  • Miss Ava Alice Muriel Astor (July 7, 1902 - July 24, 1924)
  • Princess Sergei Platonovich Obolensky (July 24, 1924 - 1932)
  • Princess Alice Obolensky (1932 - January 21, 1933)
  • Mrs. Raimund von Hofmannsthal (January 21, 1933 - 1939)
  • Mrs. Alice Astor von Hofmannsthal (1939 - March 27, 1940)
  • Mrs. Philip John Ryves Harding (March 27, 1940 - 1945)
  • Mrs. Alice Astor Harding (1945 - May 12, 1946)
  • Mrs. David Pleydell-Bouverie (May 12, 1946 - 1952)
  • Mrs. Alice Astor Pleydell-Bouverie (1952 - July 19, 1956)


  1. 1 2 Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  2. http://www.luxist.com/2010/06/21/the-classicist-historic-hudson-river-astor-estate-restored-to-i/ . accessed 7/27/2010
  3. New York Social Diary "Astor Legacy" . accessed 7/27/2010
  4. "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". New York Times. January 24, 1933. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  5. Kaplan, Fred (1999). Gore Vidal : a biography. New York: Doubleday. p. 318. ISBN 0385477031.
  6. "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.....
  7. "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.
  8. http://thepeerage.com/p3442.htm#i34416
  9. "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.
  10. "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.
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