Leona Helmsley, The New York hotel and real estate "Queen" died of heart failure today at age 87. Leonna was a succesful residential real estate broker before her marriage to Harry Helmsley the NY real estate magnate.
Leona helped her husband run a $5 billion empire that included managing the Empire State Building.
Helmsley became known as the "queen of mean" when a former housekeeper testified that she heard Helmsley say: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes," during testimony at a trial where they were being charged with tax-evasion.
In 1980's Leona became president of Helmsley Hotels, a subsidiary which including the Park Lane, St. Moritz and Palace in New York and the Harley Hotels.
While I've never had any dealings with Leona in real estate, I did in a previous life in advertising. During most of the 80's Leona Helmsley was featured smiling in glamorous magazine ads dressed in luxurious gowns and tiara, advertising the Helmsley Palace as the only hotel in the world "where the Queen stands guard."
During the 1980's I was the Advertising Director for the Hollywood Reporter. I was invited to a lunch launching the new Park Lane Hotel. At the time I had many hotels and upscale advertisers but I wasn't getting business from the Helmsley hotels.
During the lunch I went up to Leona, introduced myself and gave her a copy of Our Anniversary issue, while pointing out to her an ad from Harry Winston Jewelers and the Parker Meridien hotel on the covers. She was not mean but quite charming to me. She called over Harry and said "Harry look we should be in here".
The next day some one from her offiice called, gave me the name of someone at their ad agency and they booked the ad campaign.