Art collector leaves NY waitresses S$132,000

Art collector leaves NY waitresses S$132,000
Maureen Donohue-Peters, a waitress at Donohue's Steak House, works in the restaurant in New York on May 14, 2014. Robert Ellsworth, an art collector and a regular to the restaurant who died at the age of 85 in August, left 100,000 USD in his will for his favorite waitresses --Donohue-Peters and her niece, Maureen Barrie.

NEW YORK - A long-time patron at a New York steak house chalked up a surprising addition to his final tab: USD$100,000 (S$132,000), given to his favourite waitress and her niece.

Maureen Donohue-Peters, 53, got a call from a lawyer after Asian art collector Robert Ellsworth passed away, informing that her "something" had been left to her in his will.

"I said 'Oh my God!'. I did not expect anything. He's a very generous man, he's always been good to everybody," Donohue-Peters said about Ellsworth, a patron at Donohue's Steak House for more than half a century.

Ellsworth left $100,000 to be split between Donohue-Peters and her 28-year-old niece Maureen Barrie.

Donohue's is an institution in Manhattan's affluent Upper East Side.

Its darkened dining room, wood-paneled walls and red tablecloths hearken back to an earlier era in traditional American dining, and the restaurant draws a loyal customer base.

"It's a big extended family," Donohue-Peters said.

Ellsworth was a renowned collector and seller of Asian art with a penchant for generosity.

He donated some USD$22 million worth of Asian paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1986, according to local media. The New York Post estimated he had a fortune of around $200 million.

The art collector was a customer at the steak house from the beginning, he befriended Donohue-Peters' father after the restaurant opened in 1950, the waitress said.

After that, Ellsworth dined at the restaurant religiously, eventually becoming close to Donohue-Peters when she took over in 2000, waiting tables at the same time.

"He had always a smile in his face. He always got the same food, same drink," Donohue-Peters said.

"I would give anything to have him back. No amount of money can replace him," she said.

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