New York's Helmsley to rest in $1.4 mln mausoleum

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York real estate queen Leona Helmsley will be lavishly laid to rest in a mausoleum worth $1.4 million -- more than the average Manhattan apartment.

Real estate baroness Leona Helmsley arrives at court in New York in this January 21, 2003, file photo. Helmsley will be lavishly laid to rest in a mausoleum worth $1.4 million -- more than the average Manhattan apartment. REUTERS/Chip East

The billionaire hotelier, who was famously quoted as saying “only little people pay taxes” and who later went to prison for tax evasion, died on Monday at age 87.

She will be entombed at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery north of New York City where more than 40,000 people including captains of industry and common immigrants are buried, said Phil Zegarelli, the mayor of Sleepy Hollow, population 10,000.

The wooded hillside with river views is the final resting home of industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie and Walter Chrysler as well as labor leader Samuel Gompers and writer Washington Irving, author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Asked about reports of a $1.4 million value, Zegarelli on Tuesday called it a “fair approximation.” The structure features classical columns and a stained glass image of the New York skyline.

The average price for a Manhattan apartment in the second quarter was $1.3 million, according to the Prudential Douglas Elliman Manhattan Market Overview.

But the cemetery is not just for the rich. Zegarelli said his uncle, an immigrant from Italy who died of the Spanish flu in 1920, is buried there in an unmarked grave.

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“It’s one of the most restful, peaceful scenes for a cemetery,” Zegarelli said. “We welcome her and hope she rests in peace.”

Her husband Harry Helmsley died in 1997 and originally was entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in the New York City borough of The Bronx.

But Leona Helmsley disliked a community mausoleum built nearby in 2004 and sought another resting place, The New York Times reported last year, citing a Helmsley spokesman.

Leona was convicted of evading $1.7 million in taxes in 1989 and served 18 months in federal prison.

At trial a former housekeeper recounted that Helmsley had once told her: “We don’t pay taxes. Only little people pay taxes.” She denied making the statement.