From the Chicago Tribune, August 29, 2007, we read that famed “Queen of Mean” New York hotelier Leona Helmsley has willed $12 million to her dog, Trouble. Following her death August 20, Helmsley’s dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a $1.4 million mausoleum with a magnificent view. Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund, according to her will.
Helmsley, who owned real estate and hotel holdings that included the Empire State Building and a chain of Helmsley Hotels, left millions for her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who was named to care for Trouble in her absence, as well as two of four grandchildren from her late son Jay Panzirer — so long as they visit their father’s grave site once each calendar year. Otherwise, she wrote, neither will get a penny of the $5 million she left for each. Helmsley left nothing to two of Jay Panzirer’s other children — Craig and Meegan Panzirer — for “reasons that are known to them,” she wrote.
But no one made out better than Trouble, who once appeared in ads for the Helmsley Hotels, and lived up to her name by biting a housekeeper. “I direct that when my dog, Trouble, dies, her remains shall be buried next to my remains in the Helmsley mausoleum,” Helmsley wrote in her will.
The mausoleum, she ordered, must be “washed or steam-cleaned at least once a year.” She left behind $3 million for the upkeep of her final resting place in Westchester County, where she is buried with her husband, Harry Helmsley. She She left her chauffeur, Nicholas Celea, $100,000.
Helmsley became known as a symbol of 1980s greed and earned the nickname “the Queen of Mean” after her 1988 indictment and subsequent conviction for tax evasion. One employee had quoted her as snarling, “Only the little people pay taxes.” She was known to impose impossible requirements on her staff and to casually fire staff while being fitted for clothes. Her dog, however, seems to have won her heart.
The part that bothers me most about this for some reason is that the chauffeur only got $100K. It’s one thing to be cut out entirely from a wealthy relative’s will. But the chauffeur no doubt put up with innumerous tedious and irrational demands during the time he drove Her Royal Heiney around was given a pittance. From someone who was that wealthy, it was more like a tip.
This is not the first time I’ve heard of someone leaving money to the care of their dogs in their wills. But this is certainly the most ever willed to a dog. What do you think about how Leona Helmsley dispensed her millions?