Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl dies at 107
Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl, the last surviving child of William K. Vanderbilt II, builder of the Eagle's Nest estate in Centerport where she spent summers growing up, has died.
Earl, a breeder of Skye terriers, died Feb. 21 at her Ridgefield, Conn., home at age 107. She was a great-great-granddaughter of "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made the family fortune in steamboats and railroads.
Though Earl had no contact with the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, which was carved out of her father's estate, her daughter, Iris Vanderbilt Christ, who died in 2006, had served as its board president.
A sculptor and world traveler, Earl was a socialite who attracted many suitors and much attention in her youth. Her four marriages garnered front-page news coverage.
That was because her father was president of the New York Central Railroad as well as a renowned race-car driver, founder of the Vanderbilt Cup Races in 1904, and, four years later, the Long Island Motor Parkway, the first limited-access road built for automobiles in America. Her mother, Virginia Fair, was a daughter of U.S. Sen. James G. Fair of Nevada, who had become rich as part-owner of the Comstock Lode silver mine.
In the biography "Willie K. Vanderbilt II," Steven Gittelman, a former museum board president, describes how Earl accompanied her father in 1925 on one of his marine specimen-collecting trips to the West Indies on his 212-foot yacht Ara. "Consuelo had displayed an artistic bent, enjoying drawing and sculpture, hobbies her father encouraged," Gittelman wrote.
Nicknamed "Consie," Earl grew up at the family mansion on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and spent her summers at Eagle's Nest and in Newport.
Her parents had an unhappy marriage and were divorced in 1927.
Earl's first marriage, in 1926, was to Earl E.T. Smith, a Yale University student, polo player and champion boxer who was U.S. ambassador to Cuba from 1957 to 1959. In 1936, she married mining fortune heir Henry Gassaway Davis III. In 1941, she married William John Warburton.
Her last marriage was to N. Clarkson Earl Jr., who died in 1969.
She is survived by her daughter from her marriage to Smith, Virginia Consuelo Smith Burke of Palm Beach, Fla., seven grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. Services were last month.