Who mourns for thee, Mrs. Helmsley? Not me.
US property tycoon Leona Helmsley, who was famously quoted as saying “only the little people pay taxes”, and was later jailed for tax evasion, has died at 87.
Mrs Helmsley died of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut, her publicist said.
Mrs Helmsley and her late husband Harry had run a multi-billion dollar real estate business that included managing New York’s Empire State Building.
In 1992, she was convicted of tax evasion, spending 21 months in prison.
The Helmsleys – who also owned some of New York’s finest hotels – were accused of listing personal purchases as business expenses.
A judge ruled that Mr Helmsley was not mentally competent to stand trial, but Mrs Helmsley was convicted of evading $1.2m in taxes.
During the trial, Mrs Helmsley’s former housekeeper famously testified that she had heard Mrs Helmsley say: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”
Mrs Helmsley denied ever saying that.
However, she was noted for her tough management style and became widely known in the US media as “the queen of mean”.
That’s the abbreviated version. For a more in-depth look at the outrageous Mrs. Helmsley (and exactly why what she did was such an outrage), click here.
And now, the funny bit of her obit:
In announcing Mrs Helmsley’s death, her publicist Howard Rubenstein said he was “very proud to represent her for so many years”.
“Leona was a great businesswoman in her own right who created a tremendous brand and success with Helmsley Hotels and was a wonderful partner and wife to Harry Helmsley,” he said.
“She was extremely generous as a philanthropist and she gave tens of millions of dollars to charity right up until the last months of her life,” Mr Rubenstein said.
Trust a publicist to spotlight the ass-covering and claim that’s the real Leona, and not her ugly-but-candid words. (Hmmm, where have I heard that before?) If she was so damn charitable, it wouldn’t have killed her to keep her business and personal expenditures separate, let alone pay taxes on the renovations of her palatial home, and pay the contractors who did them properly. With an estimated fortune of $2.5 billion US, it’s hardly as if she couldn’t afford to.
Rot in hell, Queen of Mean. And be sure to give the devil his due this time!