“Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley Dead at 87

Leona Helmsley, the real estate developer and hotelier who was dubbed the “queen of mean”, died today of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was 87.

HelmsleyVia NYT City Room: “In 1968, Mrs. Helmsley, already a millionaire and a successful condominium broker, met the real estate magnate Harry B. Helmsley. They married in 1972. Together, they built a real-estate empire that included landmark buildings like 230 Park Avenue and 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 developed properties that included the Park Lane Hotel, the New York Helmsley Hotel and the Helmsley Palace Hotel, and hotels in Florida and other states.”

In 2001, Helmsley made headlines after raising a stink in the lobby of her Park Lane hotel after she saw a group of gay tourists there. For the hotel’s gay general manager, Charles Bell, Helmsley’s outburst was the last straw, according to a report in The Advocate: “She said in a loud voice, ‘What are all of these gay men doing in my hotel? It’s disgusting. I want it stopped.'”

It was one in a long string of disgusting slurs and outbursts from Bell’s boss. Bell filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Helmsley after being fired from his job, citing “wrongful and discriminatory termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

A jury awarded Bell $11.2 million in damages. This amount was later reduced by a judge to $554,000.


  1. says

    my fave story about that shrew was that when she swam laps, the servant would be at the pool’s end with a silver platter of shrimp, and upon completion of every lap Leona would clap her hands like a seal yelping “feed the fishy” !!
    (New York magazine)

  2. Frank L says

    On top of all of her other excesses and her psycho behavior toward her employees, I suppose it’s not surprising that she was also a gay-hater. It’s kind of astounding that she lived in a fantasy world in which no gay men ever set foot in New York City hotels, though.

  3. Jordan says

    She’s stoking the furnaces of hell alongside Merv now…no doubt.

    Last week Merv…now Leona (who really did look like a cartoon character).

    I wonder who will be next to kill over? I have my wish list though, and it’s not even Christmas!

  4. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED Organization says

    The rich are greedy swine. Fortunately for us Bacon Day is coming.

    “When a man tells you he got rich through had work, ask him: ‘Whose?'”
    Don Marquis – 1878-1937

  5. sean says

    she lived 87 years too long. Let’s hope she’s a maid for roy cohn where it’s so hot and steamy, the poor little thing just can’t do a thing with her hair.

  6. veejay says

    Irregardless of how you queens feel, I liked working for Mrs. H. At least I knew where I stood with Leona being an out gay male executive. It is sure better to know your enemies and be able to deal with them in the open than to trust alleged folks who are supposed to be friends like Bill and Hillary “don’t ask don’t tell” Clintons and Rudy Guilliani and Mitt Romney!

  7. John says

    She had a mean temper,didn’t pay her taxes, abused those around her– sounds as though she needs to lay in rest in the East Room of The White House!

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