Robert Ellsworth, King of Ming, Leaves Waitresses Hefty $100,000 Tip in His Will

Robert Ellsworth Photo: Courtesy Christie's.

The prominent Asian art collector, Robert “King of Ming” Ellsworth—who died in 2014 at the age of 85 (see Robert H. Ellsworth Dead at 85)—bequeathed a total of $100,000 in “tips” in his will to two waitresses at his favorite steakhouse, Donohue’s.

Maureen Donohue-Peters, the owner of the establishment, and her niece, Maureen Barrie each received $50,000 from the generous collector, though he didn’t even know their full names—they were referred to only as “Maureen at Donohue’s” and “Maureen-at-Donohue’s Niece Maureen.” The two could often be found at the Upper East Side restaurant where Ellsworth had dined for decades.

“I was shocked,” Donohue-Peters told the New York Post, which had the story. “I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t expect anything.”

Ellsworth reportedly consumed “seven out of eight” meals at the popular establishment, typically feasting on a grilled cheese during lunch, and then returning for a steak dinner with friends.

Donohue's Steakhouse. Photo: Flickr.

Donohue’s Steakhouse
Photo: Flickr

The King of Ming wasn’t the only well-heeled regular at the 64th Street eatery, however. The steakhouse is also a favorite of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks, and it was once frequented by Bernard Madoff, according to the New York Daily News. But we imagine Ellsworth’s generosity will remain unparalleled.

“He was a wonderful man and a dear friend,” Barrie told the Post.

The rest of Ellsworth’s considerable fortune is to be divided up between his longtime friend and live-in chef, Masahiro Hashiguchi, who was bequeathed $10 million, as well as various siblings, nieces, nephews, godchildren, household staff, and friends.

Hashiguchi served as the preliminary executor for Ellsworth’s estate, and filed suit in March 2015 against attorney George L. Bischof for negligence in creating a charitable trust in Ellsworth’s will that resulted in more than $25 million in taxes (see Robert Ellsworth Estate Sues Attorney Over $25 Million Tax Blunder on Eve of Christie’s Sale).

While much of his massive collection of Asian art and artifacts was auctioned off at Christie’s in March with no reserve (see World’s Largest Collection of Asian Art to Hit Auction BlockMing Chairs Lead Christie’s $132 million Robert Ellsworth Sale), several remaining pieces are bound for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, Harvard, and Yale.

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