The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Polo-Playing 'Lady' Felon Wants Child Support From Family of 9/11 Victim

By James Fanelli | November 21, 2014 7:35am
 Gwendolyn Denise Philips, who calls herself Lady Gwen de Ashborough, claims Michael Morgan Taylor, a Cantor Fitzgerald financier who died in the 9/11 attacks, is the father of her son. She wants Taylor's family to pay back child support and hand over some of the money from his estate. Taylor's family calls her a fraud.
Polo-Playing 'Lady' Claims 9/11 Victim Fathered Her Love Child
View Full Caption

MIDTOWN EAST — A polo-playing ex-felon who says England’s royal family gave her the title of "lady" is harassing the family of a Wall Street trader who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, claiming he fathered her love child, court papers charge.

Gwendolyn Denise Phillips, who also calls herself Lady Gwen de Ashborough, went to court in Manhattan last month, accusing the family of Cantor Fitzgerald employee Michael Morgan Taylor of owing her child support and money from the estate.

Phillips, who is black, claims that Taylor, who is white, is the father of her son, but his family refuses to acknowledge the paternity because they’re racists.

“His parents are denying his son’s heirship because he’s black,” Phillips told DNAinfo New York from her home in Houston, Texas. “I think if you were to tell [Mayor Bill de Blasio], he would be really disgusted, having biracial children of his own.”

But Taylor’s family members says Phillips is lying and has sent harassing emails to them — and has gone so far as to contact his mother’s friend on Facebook to say they were “racist hypocrites.”

“There is a special place in hell for people like Miss Phillips,” T. Randolph Harris, the lawyer for Taylor's family, told DNAinfo. “It’s bad enough that the Taylors lost their son in a terrorist attack. They now are being terrorized again.”

Phillips’ son, Austin Rutherford Colby, is now 20 years old and was 8 when Taylor died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Taylor, 42 at the time of his death, was as a wine-collecting Duke University graduate who worked as a high-yield bond trader and lived in a Midtown apartment.

Phillips, who has served time for bail jumping, claims she had an on-again off-again relationship with Taylor in the early 1990s, but the two were together when she got pregnant in 1993. When Taylor found out she was expecting, he didn’t want anything to do with her, Phillips said.

Phillips named Taylor as the father on Austin’s birth certificate but didn’t give her son his surname.

“Why would I name my child after a deadbeat dad?” she said. 

Taylor’s sister, Mary Kay Crenshaw, who is the administrator of his estate, said in a court filing responding to the paternity claim that before her brother died, he told her many times that he was not Austin’s father.

Crenshaw, who lives in Arkansas, also says in the filing that Austin’s birth certificate has the wrong place of birth and date of birth for Taylor.

The filing also says Taylor and Phillips had a casual friendship, culminating with him letting her couch surf at his apartment one summer while she was a student.

Phillips sued Taylor for child support in 1994, but he was never duly served, according the filing. The proceeding was dismissed in 2002.

Phillips' new petition, in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, seeks back child support and punitive damages.

She wouldn’t say why she waited until more than 13 years after Taylor’s death to bring the new proceeding.

“It’s not about when I filed,” she said. “I did what I had to do — raise my son and give him the best education money could by.”

She said her son has been able to collect some of Taylor’s survivor benefits through Social Security. Her son has also received a scholarship through the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which assists children of Sept. 11 victims.

Phillips boasts of living an extravagant and extraordinary life.

She told DNAinfo that she speaks three languages, collects classic cars and has worked on charities with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, England’s Prince Charles and the Prince of Monaco.

She said she’s lived in England and France and owned a mansion in Spain, but she mainly raised her son in Switzerland, “where he could have a normal life of continuity.”

Her love of horses led her to polo in England. Her interest grew to such an extent that she once captained England’s World Cup polo team, she claims. Because of that effort, the royal family bestowed the title of Lady de Ashborough on her, according to Phillips.

In 2000 Phillips told British tabloids a different version of the origin of her ladyship, a title that signifies being the daughter of a duke or earl.

That year a Daily Mail report accused her of being a fraud after she claimed to England’s high society and to the newspaper that she was worth millions and her British businessman husband had bought her the title of lady.

A 2002 follow-up story in the Daily Mail reported that Phillips had been living in southern Spain’s Costa del Sol and had failed to hand over money to charities for whom she held fundraisers.

Court records show that before Phillips moved to Europe, she jumped bail after being busted for stealing checks in Houston in 1996.

When she finally returned to the United States in 2011, she was arrested.

She pleaded to a felony for failing to appear for court and was sentenced to three years in prison, records show. She said she served 11 months before being released.

She blamed her arrest and prison stint on Taylor being a deadbeat.

“It’s because some wealthy white man didn’t take care of his child,” she said.

“When Michael didn’t take care of his child, I was left with the medical bills, the furniture bills. I was left with everything.”