Poking out from a mountain of clutter on the dining room table in Austeene Cooper’s living room is a pair of pink candelabras accented with ornate piping. There are other similar items — framed photographs, mirrors, furniture — that whisper of a bygone era of luxury and privilege.
They once decorated the Beverly Hills home of her father, Harry Brand Cooper, the great-nephew of Leslie C. Brand, who was one of the founders of the city of Glendale.
Sitting now amid dust and cat-scratched boxes, they tell a different story: that of a woman who, four generations removed from the peak of her family’s wealth, is struggling to adapt to a new reality in which she is struggling to even keep a roof over her head.
“I wasn’t going to let them go. I had to pay for them,” she said of the heirlooms, purchased at a 2004 auction as her father’s estate was divided among her siblings. “I brought everything in and just put it around in my house expecting I was going to get more money so that I could organize everything and make it livable, and that never happened, so now it is just a disaster.”