New York magnate leaves billions to the dogs
NEW YORK – New York hotelier and real estate magnate Leona Helmsley left millions to her beloved dog, Trouble, but she has left billions for the care of dogs in general, The New York Times said on Tuesday.
Helmsley left instructions that an entire charitable trust valued at $5 billion to $8 billion and amounting to virtually all of her estate, be used for the care and welfare of dogs, the newspaper said, citing two people who had seen the document and described it on condition of anonymity.
The two people who had seen the document said Helmsley signed it in 2003 to establish goals for the trust that would disburse assets after her death. The first goal was to help indigent people and the second to provide for the care and welfare of dogs, the newspaper said. But a year later, she deleted the first goal.
But all the money may not go to the dogs, the article said. It said the mission statement also has a provision that Helmsley’s trustees may use their discretion in distributing the funds, and some lawyers say the statement may not mean much, given that it was not incorporated into her will or the trust documents.
Helmsley, who was known as “the Queen of Mean” because of the way she dealt with her employees, had a soft spot for her dog. But a New York court last month lowered the dog’s inheritance to $2 million from $12 million on grounds that Helmsley was mentally unfit when she made her will.
A spokesman for the executors of Helmsley’s estate told the Times they did not want to comment on the statement because they were still working to determine the trust’s direction.
Helmsley died in August 2007 at age 87. She amassed a fortune in real estate and hotels with her husband, Harry Helmsley, who died in 1997.
Famously quoted as having said “only the little people pay taxes,” Helmsley spent 18 months in federal prison for evading $1.7 million in taxes in 1989.