Part of Helmsley's trust going to the dogs

Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:22am EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The trustees of late New York hotelier and real estate magnate Leona Helmsley on Tuesday said they will give $136 million to charity, with only $1 million going to dog-related causes she favored.

Helmsley, who died in 2007 at age 87, left instructions that most of her multi-billion dollar estate should go to the care and welfare of dogs, but the document also gave trustees discretion in how to distribute the funds.

In February, a surrogate court judge ruled the trustees have sole authority to distribute money.

Helmsley was nicknamed the "Queen of Mean" in the media because of how she dealt with employees, but she had a soft spot for dogs.

She left her beloved pooch Trouble an inheritance of $12 million, but last year a judge trimmed that to $2 million on grounds Helmsley was mentally unfit when she made her will.

In the grants made on Tuesday, trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust said most of the funds will go to medical causes with the largest single grant being $40 million to a digestive health program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The trust gave $1 million to dog-related charities in amounts of $100,000 each. Among them were the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dogs for the Deaf, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Puppies Behind Bars.

The trustees also will give to conservation projects in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and Baja California, Mexico.

Helmsley's husband, Harry, died in 1997.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

 
<p>In this file photo Leona Helmsley appears for court to fight a former hotel manager's charges that she discriminates against homosexuals in New York on January 21, 2003. The trustees of the late New York hotelier and real estate magnate said they will give $136 million to charity, with only $1 million going to dog-related causes she favored. REUTERS/Chip East</p>