Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spoiled dog

Did you ever wonder what became of reviled New York real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley's dog? As the headlines proclaimed upon the death of the "Queen of Mean" in 2007, she left $12 million of her $4 billion estate to her pet Maltese (see Article F of her Last Will and Testament). Well, I've hunted down the answer after learning from this article that "Trouble" (pictured above, more photos here) was by no means the best-bequeathed animal. Helmsley set the aside the money in a trust for the care the dog, but the amount was reduced to $2 million - “enough money to pay for Trouble’s maintenance and welfare at the highest standards of care for more than 10 years, which is more that twice her reasonably anticipated life expectancy” - with the remainder going to charity. The dog remained as spoiled as she looks,* with an annual budget of $100,000 for food, grooming, and a full-time security guard (since Trouble had reportedly received dozens of death and kidnapping threats). Trouble herself was left to Helmsley's brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who put her under the protection of Carl Lekic, general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel in Sarasota, Florida. One of the Maltese's caretakers characterizes her toxic personality, which apparently mirrored that of her owner:
Always, always yapping and talking. I grew up with dogs, I love dogs, or at least I did. This was the worst animal on the planet.....You fed it the best food on the planet and all it did was nip at you. When you tried to bring it to the groomer it had to sit in the back seat all by itself and if the driver looked at it, watch out. This was a terrible animal and I think the money just made [it] worse. It was a problematic dog to be sure. I think [it] got really used to being pampered....There isn’t a person in the world who is sad to see [it] go, I can tell you that....No one really wants to see anyone go down like that, but if there was anyone in the world who deserved it, it was Trouble.”
By then blind and infirm, Trouble died in Dec. 2010. "Trouble was cremated, and her remains are being privately retained," said a spokeswoman. Helmsley wanted Trouble, who had accompanied her around the country in her private jet, interred with her in the 12,000 sq. ft. family mausoleum in New York's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, but the cemetery's board refused the request. The remainder of the money willed to Trouble was finally freed up for less selfish uses: "The funds held in trust for her care have reverted to The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for charitable purposes."

*Unlike this good-natured beast or this storied canine.

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