The Queen of Mean


Harry B. Helmsley March 4, 1909 – January 4, 1997

Leona Mindy Roberts Helmsley July 4, 1920 – August 20, 2007

Harry and Leona Helmsley were a New York power couple who owned real estate and hotels throughout the city.  They made a multi-billion dollar fortune in real estate properties including the Empire State Building, the crown jewel of Manhattan.  By 1989, Leona managed 23 of the Helmsley hotels and was featured in the advertising campaign that helped make her a household name.

She was dubbed the “Queen of Mean” because of the way she treated her employees.  In a famous tax evasion trial, one of Leona’s employees testified that Leona said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”  She was convicted and sentenced to prison.  She served 18 months in a federal prison.

The Helmsley’s are buried in a neo-classical Doric-style mausoleum in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.  In a nod to their success in the real estate market in New York, the mausoleum features three stained-glass windows that depict the city skyline.


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2 Responses to The Queen of Mean

  1. Terrance Robertson says:

    Supposedly under her influence, Harry Helmsley began a program of conversion of apartment buildings into condos . He later concentrated on the hotel industry, building The Helmsley Palace on Madison Avenue . Together the Helmsleys built a real estate empire in New York City including 230 Park Avenue, the Empire State Building , the Tudor City apartment complex on the East Side of Manhattan, and Helmsley-Spear, their management and leasing business. The couple also developed properties that included the Park Lane Hotel, the New York Helmsley Hotel , the Helmsley Palace Hotel, and hotels in Florida and other states. By the beginning of 1989, twenty-three hotels in the chain were directly controlled by Leona Helmsley.

  2. Pingback: Mausoleums: Architecture for the Dead | Architectural Observer

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