New York waitress gets $50,000 tip in will of favorite customer - KMOV.com

New York waitress gets $50,000 tip in will of favorite customer

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A waitress at a steakhouse in New York City was shocked to learn that one of her favorite customers had left her a hefty tip in his will -- $50,000. A waitress at a steakhouse in New York City was shocked to learn that one of her favorite customers had left her a hefty tip in his will -- $50,000.

By David Shortell

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The service must have been pretty good.

A waitress at a steakhouse in New York City was shocked to learn that one of her favorite customers had left her a hefty tip in his will -- $50,000.

"I did not see it coming," Maureen Donohue-Peters said Tuesday. "Shocked when I got the call."

The gift came from Robert Ellsworth, a prominent art dealer and ultimate regular at Donohue's, the steakhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Workers at the restaurant say he was there nearly every day, twice a day, for more than 50 years.

"He was more than a customer," Donohue-Peters said. "He was a dear friend of mine."

Donohue-Peters said she's known Ellsworth, a friend of her father's, the original owner of the restaurant, her entire life.

Ellsworth also left $50,000 for Donohue-Peter's niece, who waits at the restaurant one night a week, the waitress said.

Donohue-Peters, 53, remembers Ellsworth as a wonderful man and called the windfall very nice, "but I prefer to have the man here instead of that," she said.

Ellsworth died in August, according to an obituary in The New York Times. The Times once dubbed him the "king of Ming" for his vast collection of Asian works.

Ellsworth sold works and established collections at some of the world's top museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, according to the Times.

A collection of art belonging to Ellsworth that was sold at Christie's auction house in March fetched $134 million and set four world auction records, "a testament to Mr. Ellsworth's unparalleled eye and diverse interests in art," the company said.

The steakhouse holds many relics of the generous collector, including his favorite booth and the red stirrer straws that always swirled in his signature Jim Beam, Donohue-Peters said.

For Ellsworth, it was always a grilled cheese and bacon for lunch and a sirloin steak for dinner, according to Bruno Blazina, a neighbor who helps out at the restaurant in the mornings.

"He would always eat half and save the other for his dog," Blazina said.

Donohue-Peters said she would want people to remember Ellsworth for his generosity -- something she and her niece, and perhaps his dog, know about firsthand.

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