Central Park

Late Heiress Leaves $20 Million Fortune To New York Public Library And Central Park

Central Park
James Gilbert

A reserved Manhattan widow made a couple of shocking 8-digit donations before she died, surprising friends as she donated $10 million each to the Central Park Conservancy and the New York Public Library.

Mary McConnell Bailey, who did not care for expensive jewelry or flashy clothing, left the checks to her two favorite institutions before she died in February 2011, at the age of 88.
The Central Park Conservancy and the New York Public Library were both shocked after receiving the money from Bailey’s estate.


Friend and neighbor Lizanne Stoll told the New York Post that Bailey lived a quiet, modest life. 

“You never would have known,” Stoll said of Bailey’s wealth. “She was very secretive about it all.”

Bailey lived in a two-bedroom apartment on East 57th Street and 1st avenue.

“Her apartment had that 1950s fresh-out-of-college look,” Stoll said. “She had nice antiques, but all the art on the walls seemed to be copies from MoMA.”

Bailey’s husband died in World War II and she had no children.

Bailey never remarried.

Baily was born in 1922, and grew up in North Hampton, Massachusetts.

She moved to New York in her 20s.

Bailey attended Columbia University and volunteered at schools and hospitals when she was younger.

When Bailey’s mother passed, she left Bailey and her siblings a vast fortune, which led to Bailey’s pursuit of philanthropic efforts.

“I met her many times and had lunch with her twice, but I cannot remember her voice – that’s how soft-spoken she was,” John Bacon, the New York Public Library’s director of planned giving, told the Post. 

“She was always neat and careful, but nothing fancy. No jewelry, no nothing. And always a track suit — day, night or otherwise.”

James Gilbert | Elite.

James Gilbert

James Gilbert

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