Leona Roberts Helmsley was a businesswoman from the United States who lived from July 4, 1920, to August 20, 2007. Her colorful flair and authoritarian reputation earned her the moniker “Queen of Mean.”  Helmsley was investigated and found guilty of federal income tax fraud and other offenses in 1989 after contractors engaged to refurbish her Connecticut house-made claims of non-payment. Despite receiving a sixteen-year sentence, she was only sentenced to nineteen months in prison and two months of house detention. During the trial, a former housekeeper testified that she overheard Helmsley say, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes,” a quote that was forever associated with her.
Leona Helmsley Is an American Actress and Model. $5 Billion Net Worth
Leona Helmsley’s net worth is estimated to be at $1 million dollars. Leona Helmsley was an American entrepreneur with a $5 billion dollar net worth at one point. Due to her reputation for being harsh to her employees and family, Leona Helmsley received the moniker “Queen of Mean.” In the late 1980s, she was convicted of federal income tax evasion and a slew of other offenses following charges of non-payment by contractors engaged to work on her property. Helmsley’s sentence was reduced from 16 years in prison to 19 months in prison with two months of house arrest.
In 1968, Leona was working as a condominium broker when she met and began her relationship with Harry Helms Helmsley, a multi-millionaire real estate entrepreneur who divorced his 33-year-old wife and married Leona on April 8, 1972. The Helmsleys established a real estate empire in New York City that included 230 Park Avenue, the Empire State Building, the Tudor City apartment complex on Manhattan’s East Side, and Helmsley-Spear, their management and leasing firm. The Park Lane Hotel, the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York, and hotels in Florida and other states were among the properties created by the pair.
In Marbletown, New York, Leona Helmsley was born as Lena Rosenthal in 1920. Ida, her mother, was a homemaker, and Morris, her father, was a hat manufacturer. When Helmsley was a child, his family relocated to Brooklyn, and then to Manhattan on multiple occasions. Helmsley attended Abraham Lincoln High School before dropping school to pursue her dream of being a model. She went by several different surnames in a short period of time before settling on Roberts.
Helmsley met real estate entrepreneur Harry Helmsley in 1968 while working as a condominium broker. After two years, she became a senior vice-president at one of his brokerage firms. Following that, the two tied the knot. Leona Helmsley focused on her husband’s developing hotel enterprise when her real estate license was terminated for pushing her tenants to buy condominiums.
Evasion of Taxes and The Courtroom
The Helmsley’s purchased Dunnellen Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut, for $11 million in 1983 with the intention of using it as a weekend resort. They hired contractors to add a dance floor, a mahogany card table, and a silver clock, among other upgrades, totaling roughly $8 million. The Helmsleys, who were already known for disputing payments, turned down their contractors’ requests for payment. As a result, the contractors brought a case against the government. The majority of the contractors’ work was unlawfully invoiced to the Helmsleys’ hotels as business costs, which was exposed during the court hearings. Meanwhile, falsified invoices revealed the couple’s tax avoidance tactics. The Helmsleys and a few of their acquaintances were charged with both tax evasion and extortion by then-US Attorney Rudy Giuliani in 1988.
Harry was declared physically and psychologically incompetent to stand trial due to his deteriorating health, leaving Leona Helmsley to face the charges alone. Helmsley-Spear executive Paul Ruffino and Elizabeth Baum, the Helmsley home’s housekeeper, were both significant witnesses at the trial. Helmsley’s micromanaging and abusive behavior, which she directed not only at employees and contractors but also at family members and senior executives, was made public throughout the trial. Meanwhile, legal watchers of the trial said Helmsley’s blatant hatred and arrogance alienated the jurors. Helmsley was found guilty of three charges of tax evasion, one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, three counts of submitting false personal tax returns, 16 counts of helping in the filing of fraudulent corporation and partnership tax returns, and ten counts of mail fraud in August 1989. The case of extortion, however, was dropped against her. Her original sentence was 16 years in prison, but after an appeal by her new attorney, Alan Dershowitz, it was reduced to 19 months.
Assets and Personal Life
In 1938, Helmsley married lawyer Leo Panzirer for the first time. They got four grandkids through their son, Jay. In 1952, they got divorced. Helmsley went on to marry and divorce Joseph Lubin, a garment industry businessman, twice. Finally, in 1972, she married Harry Helmsley, with whom she remained for the rest of her life.
Helmsley died in her Connecticut home in 2007 at the age of 87 from congestive heart failure. Her ashes were later interred in a $1.4 million mausoleum in New York’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, adjacent to her husband Harry. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust received the majority of their assets, valued at nearly $4 billion. Meanwhile, her Maltese dog, Trouble, received a $12 million trust fund, which was eventually reduced to $2 million, with the remainder going to the Charitable Trust and two of Helmsley’s disinherited grandchildren.