|Birth: ||Jul. 4, 1920|
New York County
New York, USA
|Death: ||Aug. 20, 2007|
Entrepreneur. New York City hotel operator and real estate investor. She was convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989 and served 18 months in prison, after receiving an initial sentence of 16 years. She was born as Leona Mindy Rosenthal in Marbletown, Ulster County, New York, and raised in Brooklyn. Before her involvement with Harry Helmsley, she was married three times. Once to attorney Leo Panzirer, by whom she had a son, her only child (who predeceased her), and twice to garment industry magnate Joseph Lubin. Leona Panzirer was a real estate agent when she met and began her involvement with the then-married multi-millionaire real estate investor Harry Helmsley. Supposedly under her influence, he began a program of conversion of apartment buildings to condominiums. He later began to concentrate on the hotel industry, building the Helmsley Palace on Madison Avenue. Leona Helmsley became infamous during the 1980s for being a tyrannical "boss from hell" whose petulance seemed ill-suited to the hospitality industry. Harry left her his entire fortune, estimated to be worth well in excess of $5 billion, upon his death in 1997. Part of her company's portfolio at one time included the Empire State Building, The Helmsley Palace (now The New York Palace), The Park Lane Hotel, The Helmsley Middletowne Hotel, The New York Helmsley Hotel (a.k.a. The New York Harley), The Helmsley Windsor Hotel, The St. Moritz (now Ritz Carlton), The Carlton House hotels, the Harley Hotel chain and The Helmsley Building. She was convicted of tax-related crimes. United States Attorney Rudolph Giuliani was one of the two chief prosecutors in that case. She was convicted and sentenced to prison for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of tax evasion, three counts of filing false personal tax returns, sixteen counts of assisting in the filing of false corporate and partnership tax returns, and ten counts of mail fraud. Harry Helmsley was initially charged as well; however, he was found to be both physically and mentally unfit to stand trial, having begun to appear enfeebled shortly after the beginning of his relationship with Leona Helmsley years before. At trial, one of the key witnesses was a former housekeeper at her Greenwich, Connecticut home, Elizabeth Baum, who recounted having the following exchange with Leona Helmsley four to six weeks after being hired in September 1983, "I said, 'You must pay a lot of taxes.' She said, 'We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.'" Helmsley denied ever saying this. Most legal observers felt that Mrs. Helmsley's personality alienated the jurors. She was convicted but eventually managed to have her sentences, originally decades long, largely set aside except for 18 months, which she served. She was released in January 1994. When the last of her appeals failed and it was clear she was going to jail, she collapsed outside of the courthouse, later diagnosed with a heart irregularity and hypertension. In 2002, Helmsley was sued by Charles Bell, a former employee, who sued her alleging that he was discharged solely for being homosexual. A jury agreed and ordered Mrs. Helmsley to pay Bell $11,200,000 in damages; a judge subsequently reduced this amount to $554,000. The story of her adult life was dramatized in the 1990 TV movie Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean, which starred Suzanne Pleshette as Leona and Lloyd Bridges as Harry.
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(bio courtesy of: Wikipedia)
Cause of death: Congestive heart failure
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
New York, USA
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: RTerry
Record added: Aug 20, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21034267
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