May 19, 2008 / 12:37 AM / in 10 years

Billionaire Helmsley's prison suit sells for $850

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The pink wool and denim skirt suit worn by the late real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley when she went prison in 1992 sold for $850 at auction on Sunday.

The Chanel suit was one of hundreds of items of clothing and accessories belonging to the late “Queen of Mean” sold at the auction, which raised $118,845, said Alice York, marketing coordinator for Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

The top-selling item was a J. Mendel brown broad-tail coat that fetched $12,000, while a brown sable coat went for $6,000, York said.

The collection included a red beaded evening gown designed by Bob Mackie, which brought in $3,200 and a lot of 16 pairs of Ferragamo shoes that sold for $1,000.

Many of the items sold were made by Helmsley’s full-time dressmaker who worked in a space that occupied the third floor of one wing of Helmsley’s Greenwich, Connecticut estate.

The Helmsley holdings once included The Empire State Building and several lavish hotels, which were promoted by advertisements in which Leona Helmsley appeared with copy reading, “The only palace where the queen stands guard.”

Helmsley was convicted of tax evasion in 1989 and jailed for 18 months. Testimony at her trial included her comment: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

She was profiled in articles, biographies and television movies with the moniker “The Queen of Mean.”

She hit the headlines again after her death in August 2007 when she willed $12 million to her Maltese dog, Trouble. Fortune magazine said was one of the year’s dumbest business moves.

Reporting by Brad Dorfman

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