leona helmsley

A note to all animal loving millionaires and billionaires… give your money to animal charities before you die. Just sayin’.

— Kenn

She was known as New York City’s “Queen of Mean“. Yet she had a real soft spot for dogs.

When Leona Helmsley, the woman who managed the most prestigious addresses in New York City including the Empire State Building, died in 2007, the Helmsley Foundation provided for a part of her $450 million estate to benefit animal welfare.

To date, only $100,000 has been distributed to animal welfare organizations.

Helmsley’s mission statement directed funds to be given “to purposes related to the care of dogs.” The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund, and other groups say the low amount is against the wishes of Helmsley’s mission statement and what she would have wanted. Wayne Pacelle, president of the HSUS stated the money distributed so far was “a trifling amount and contrary to Leona Helmsley’s personal intentions.”

Maddie’s Fund president, Rich Aranzino stated, “The money has the potential to change everything for man’s best friend.”

Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Nora Anderson struck down the requests of the animal organizations to be involved in the distribution of the funds, and said they had no standing to intervene in the estate’s decision as to how the money was distributed, and that the trustees have sole discretion. Judge Anderson ruled that Helmsley didn’t designate a specific amount and technically the trustees have not violated any of the provisions.

When Helmsley died, the 87 year-old left her white Maltese dog, labeled by the media as “a rich bitch”, a trust fund of $12 million and directed that the notoriously nasty little dog be cared for by two of her relatives. A judge however, reduced the trust fund to $2 million and both relatives refused to take custody of the dog.

The dog, named Trouble, now lives in Florida with one of Helmsley’s past employees.

The animal welfare organizations meanwhile, have stated they will continue to fight.

Story By Elaine Furst For Dog Files