N.Y. man leaves $50K in will to 2 waitresses

Maureen Donohue-Peters, left, and her niece Maureen Barrie, right, both work as waitresses Donohue's Steak House in Manhattan's Upper East Side and were gifted a big tip in costumer Robert Ellsworth's will. (Photo: WABC/ABC News)

Two waitresses at a Manhattan steakhouse got an unexpected tip from their favorite customer that passed away last summer.

The waitresses, Maureen Donohue-Peters and her niece Maureen Barrie, only learned after his death that a regular at their restaurant was a wealthy art mogul that named them in their will, 8News’ ABC affiliate WABC reports.

Robert Ellsworth was a self-made multimillionaire. While much of the art world knew him as the “King of Ming” because of his extensive Asian antiques collection, Ellsworth insisted that everyone at Donohue’s Steak House call him Bob.


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Donohue-Peters told WABC he was “very down-to-earth, very nice. He’d help anybody.”

According to an obituary in The New York Times, 85-year-old Ellsworth died as a result of a fall in early August.

His estate totaled about $200 million at the time of his death. Both Maureens learned that he had left them $50,000 a piece only after his attorneys contacted them in December, which happened to be a time of year when his generosity tended to shine.

PHOTO: Robert Ellsworths favorite meal from the unassuming restaurant, Donohues Steak House, was an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with bacon.

“At Christmastime he’d tip the entire staff, from the dishwasher right out to the buspeople,” Donohue-Peters told WABC.

She said Bob knew every staffer’s name and always had their $8.95 open-faced bacon and cheese sandwich. And while she is grateful for the unexpected gift, she still misses her friend.

“You know, I’d much rather have him here than have the money,” she said.

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