Tuesday, August 18, 2009

....Animal groups in court over Helmsley fortune....

Associated Press

Updated: 08/11/2009 08:58:24 AM CDT

NEW YORK — Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, may be living quietly enough in Florida, but there's a lot of barking about the way the late hotel queen's millions are being given away.

Three of the country's largest animal welfare groups on Monday accused the trustees of Leona Helmsley's estate of a "scheme to deprive dog welfare charities" of their stake in the real estate baroness' fortune. They filed a petition in Manhattan Surrogate Court arguing that Helmsley, who died in 2007, specified in her will that her multibillion-dollar estate should be used to help dogs, and the trustees disregarded those wishes.

The groups — the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Maddie's Fund — want the court to throw out a judge's February decision that gave the trustees for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust sole authority to determine which charities would benefit from her estate.

In April, the trustees gave away $136 million to hospitals, foundations and the homeless. They gave $1 million to animal charities, including $100,000 to the ASPCA and groups that train guide dogs for the blind.

The trust, in a statement posted on its Web site, said Helmsley never wanted her fortune just to go to dogs.

"Did Leona Helmsley intend for this charitable trust to focus on the care and help of dogs, rather than people? Absolutely not," the statement said. "Have the trustees of this vast fortune acted improperly and ignored Mrs. Helmsley's instructions? Again, absolutely not."
The hotel heiress, whose fortune had been estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion after her death at age 87, also named her dog as a beneficiary in her will, leaving a $12 million trust fund for the little white Maltese. But a judge whittled that amount down to $2 million.

Trouble's last known residence was the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel in Sarasota, Fla.

The Queen of Mean cuts family out of her will but leaves £6m to her bad-tempered terrierBy BARRY WIGMORE
Last updated at 11:11 31 August 2007

New York's Queen of Mean, left £6million for the care of her dog Trouble in her will.
The property billionaire ordered that when the toy Maltese terrier dies, it must be buried next to her in the Helmsley Mausoleum.
But she cut two of her four grandchildren out of the will, worth up to £4 billion, and imposed strict conditions on the other two, warning that their £2.5 million trust funds would be revoked if they broke her rules.

They didn't call her the Queen of Mean for nothing: Leona Helmsley cut her grandkids from her will but left her dog millions
Mrs Helmsley died aged 87 last week. Her third husband, property tycoon Harry Helmsley, died in 1997.
She left £25 million in personal bequests, but financial experts estimate that when her business empire and her huge charitable trust are added up, the total estate will be worth up to £4 billion.
The notoriously bad-tempered billionaire, who got her Queen of Mean nickname after saying "only the little people pay taxes" before she went to jail in 1989 on tax evasion charges, had prickly relations with her family for years.

She refused to talk to her grandchildren until recently, because she was upset that none had named any of their children after her late husband.
She was reported to have made up with them last year, but not enough to change the will.
The biggest individual beneficiary is Trouble, Mrs Helmsley's seven-year-old dog.
The bitch, a present to Mrs Helmsley from one of her advisers, rapidly gained a reputation for having the same luxurious tastes and bad temper as its owner.
Employees say Mrs Helmsley would often disrupt work in the kitchen of her Park Lane Hotel, where she lived, by insisting the chef drop whatever he was doing to make meals for Trouble.
Maltese terriers are notorious for nipping people, a trait shared by Trouble.
That led to a lawsuit against Mrs Helmsley by one of her housekeepers, Zamfira Sfara, who alleged that the dog repeatedly bit her as she fed her, leaving her with permanent nerve damage.

The housekeeper also claimed Trouble bit her whenever she gave her a bath - and that Mrs Helmsley cheered her on saying, "Good for you, Trouble." The suit was settled out of court.
Mrs Helmsley named her brother Alvin Rosenthal as the dog's new keeper.
Her grandsons, David and Walter Panzirer, receive their bequests on condition that they make an annual visit to the grave of their father, Mrs Helmsley's only son Jay Panzirer, who died of a heart attack in 1982.