Dead Diner Leaves Waitresses a Wild Tip

Robert 'King of Ming' Ellsworth hands the 2 Maureens $50K apiece
By Alex Tirpack,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2015 11:00 AM CDT
Dead Diner Leaves Waitresses a Wild Tip
Famed art mogul Robert Ellsworth left two waitresses at Donohue's Steak House a final tip -- $50,000 a piece.   (Shutterstock)

When famed art collector Robert "King of Ming" Ellsworth passed away last August, the 85-year-old was said to have been worth an estimated $200 million; now, two employees of his favorite NYC restaurant have something big to remember him by: $50,000 each. That's what Ellsworth, a decades-long regular at Donohue's Steak House, left the women in his will. The New York Post has the story, along with this great detail: Ellsworth was apparently on a first-name-only-basis with the women, whom he referred to in his will as "Maureen-at-Donohue's" and "Maureen-at-Donohue's Niece Maureen." The women conveyed their shock to the Post, as well as their affection for the "wonderful" man.

Maureen Donohue-Peters, the aunt, says she knew Ellsworth for 53 years ("my entire life") and tells the Post, "Out of eight meals, he ate seven here. We were his dining room." His meals were as regular as his presence: often a grilled cheese with bacon for lunch, sirloin steak for dinner, and a Jim Beam to end it all. The New York Times in August ran a fascinating obituary for Ellsworth, who never graduated high school but, as one art expert put it, "became the No. 1 purveyor of things Asian, especially objects, in the Western world. When it came to objects, he was unbeatable." The Post reports that some of his collection—which included a rug that once occupied the emperor's quarters in the Forbidden Palace—will end up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harvard, and Yale; the rest of his fortune will be go to his extended family and close friends. (More generosity stories.)

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