John Eastman, a prominent entertainment attorney whose clients included musicians Paul McCartney and Billy Joel, abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning and playwright Tennessee Williams, died at his Lily Pond Lane, East Hampton Village, residence on August 10. Eastman, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months ago, was 83.
With his father, Lee Eastman, Mr. Eastman was a partner in the law firm Eastman & Eastman, which represented Mr. McCartney during his lawsuit to legally disband the Beatles and during his long post-Beatles career. Mr. McCartney, who owns a home in Amagansett, married Mr. McCartney’s sister. Eastman, Linda Eastman, in 1969 and remained close to his brother-in-law until Mr. Eastman’s death. Eastman.
“John was a great man,” Mr McCartney wrote on social media on August 11. “One of the nicest and smartest people I’ve ever been lucky enough to know in my life. Not only did he help me massively in my business dealings as my lawyer, but as a friend he was hard to beat . His sense of humor always shone through in everything he did and his devotion to his family was supreme.”
“It was all about family,” Mr. Eastman’s son, also named Lee Eastman, said this week. “My grandfather was down the road; Paul and Linda came over every summer. It was a very, very close family hanging around the ocean at Georgica Beach.” Mr. Eastman “was a big, imposing figure,” his son said, “but he was very much just a family man who wanted to be with his 11 grandchildren and my mother.”
“He was one of the most well-read men you’ll ever meet, and he thought very straight,” said the younger Mr. Eastman. “He demanded the best from people, but you will never meet a less pretentious or arrogant person. Smart and well-read, he treated everyone equally. An extraordinary husband, father and friend to many. .”
“John Eastman was a dear friend and an excellent attorney whose representation guided me through difficult legal and financial circumstances,” said Mr. Joel, a longtime resident of Sag Harbor, in a statement provided to The Star. “He was fierce when it came to protecting artists’ rights, and I credit him with every longevity I’ve achieved in my career. I was proud to be one of his associates as well as one of his clients. I will “I miss his company. His unique knowledge, his valuable insights and his irreplaceable humor.”
John Lindner Eastman was born on July 10, 1939, in Manhattan to Lee Vail Eastman and the former Louise Lindner. He grew up in Scarsdale, NY and graduated from Scarsdale High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in California in 1961 before going on to receive a Bachelor of Laws degree from New York University School of Law in 1964.
On September 7 of that year, he and Josephine Merrill were married. Mrs. Eastman survives. “Their marriage remained a beautiful marriage, with a love story from 1964 until he died, almost 58 years,” their son said. “He always referred to mum as his north star, which I thought was lovely.”
Mr. Eastman joined his father as a partner at Eastman & Eastman in 1965. The elder Mr. Eastman died in 1991.
John Eastman first came to East Hampton in the late 1950s when he took a job as a sailing instructor, his son said. Lee Eastman came to East Hampton in 1961, buying a house on Lily Pond Lane. John and Josephine Eastman rented in Sagaponack and Wainscott before buying a house of their own on Lily Pond Lane in 1973, formerly home to the Anita Zahn Summer School of the Arts, where young Jacqueline and Caroline Lee Bouvier studied dance. .
Mr Eastman was a member of the Maidstone Club and the Georgica Society. He was a trustee of the Willem de Kooning Foundation and a patron of Amber Waves Farm, the Springs Food Pantry and the Duck Creek Arts Center. “He was an avid tennis player and loved sailing on Georgica Pond,” his son said.
The family “spent every weekend, summer and free moment here,” the younger Mr. Eastman, who became his father’s law partner in 1997. “We worked very closely together for many years.” Mr McCartney “is here because of my father,” he said. “He and Linda used to stay here with their kids at our house. It was like a ’70s-style free-for-all, everybody running around.”
The Eastman family also lived on East End Avenue in Manhattan, where Mr. Eastman served on the board of trustees of the American Museum of Natural History. “He was a longtime trustee at Smith College” in Northampton, Mass., his son said. He cared a lot about education, the education of women.”
As Mr. Eastman’s focus shifted to philanthropic work, “he spent more and more time here,” his son said. “Like many, when Covid hit, my parents stayed here and luckily.” In recent years, Mr. Eastman was often at Georgica Beach, where he walked Lucky, the family’s Tibetan terrier. “He went every day, rain or shine,” his son said, meeting “a lovely group of people who became ‘great dog friends.'”
“My abiding image is of him on a beat-up Raleigh, pedaling barefoot and jumping into the ocean.”
“There is so much more that could be said about his incredible qualities,” Mr McCartney wrote, “but words can hardly describe his passion for life and our love for this wonderful man. He will be greatly missed, but will always be held dear in the hearts of those of us who knew and loved him.”
Mr. Eastman was buried in Poppy’s Field, a meadow in Peru, Vt. In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Louise Eastman of Brooklyn and North Haven, and another son, Jay Eastman of Manhattan and North Haven. . Eleven grandchildren also survive. They are Nancy, Hugh, Otto, Merrill, Jack, Oliver and Otis Eastman, all of Manhattan, Heidi Loening of New Orleans, Lola Loening of Brooklyn, Graciela Watrous of Brooklyn and Julian Watrous of Manhattan. Two sisters, Laura Malcolm of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Louise Weed of Cambridge, Mass., also survive. Ms McCartney died in 1998.
The family of Mr. Eastman has suggested that a benevolence be performed in his memory to “many wonderful community organizations in East Hampton.” – Christopher Walsh