The very pampered and wealthy Leona Helmsley was born in 1920 and died in 2007

She was perceived as excessively unpleasant and rude and the tabloid press of New York City dubbed her "Queen of Mean".

She married several times and made her fortune in real estate investment.

She was indicted for tax evasion in 1988 and served 19 months in prison. She is forever remembered for a saying attributed to her by an ex-employee:

“We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

In 1972, she married the billionaire real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley, who died in 1997.

Helmsley & TroubleThe Queen of Mean died on August 20, 2007 of heart failure, at the age of 87. She left most of her estate, estimated at $4-billion, to a charitable trust but $12-million was first set aside for her 9-year old dog, named Trouble, which was more than she left to two grandchildren, who each received $5-million.

Two other grand-children received nothing, the Will explaining “for reasons which are known to them”.

The Will continued:

“I direct that when my dog, Trouble, dies, her remains shall be buried next to my remains in the Helmsley mausoleum.”

But there was soon trouble with Trouble. That canine legacy was challenged in Court and Manhattan Surrogate Judge Renee Roth reduced it to $2-million.

Further blip on the radar: New York cemeteries don’t allow for animal remains to accommodated so poor Trouble may end up in a pauper’s grave behind the SPCA.


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Famous Wills
  • Washington Post, Hemsley’s Dog Gets $12 Million in Will, August 29, 2007, retrieved on Nov. 3, 2010 from
  • New York Times, Leona Helmsley’s Dog Loses All but $2 Million, June 17, 2008, retrieved on Nov. 3, 2010 from