(Reuters) - Billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley, who went to prison for tax evasion and was notoriously tough on her hotel employees, died on Monday at the age of 87.
Here are five facts about her:
* Helmsley, who was born Leona Mindy Rosenthal, was married twice and had worked as a model, secretary and real estate agent before marrying real estate tycoon Helmsley in 1972.
* Harry Helmsley left Leona about $1.7 billion when he died at age 87 in 1997. She sold many of their properties and in 2007, Forbes magazine figures showed Leona’s fortune had grown to $2.5 billion.
* The Helmsleys were accused of listing personal expenses as business expenses to hide income. During her tax fraud trial, former housekeeper Elizabeth Baum recounted that Leona Helmsley had once told her: “We don’t pay taxes. Only little people pay taxes.” Helmsley denied she made that statement. She was convicted of tax evasion and served 18 months in a Connecticut prison.
* The New York Times said the Helmsleys’ holdings once included as many as 125 properties in New York and several other cities. Among their interests were several hotels bearing the Helmsley name, Manhattan skyscrapers and warehouses, residential lofts, and landmark Manhattan buildings including the Empire State Building, the Graybar Building and the Flatiron Building.
* Helmsley was known for a tyrannical management style that led to her “queen of mean” nickname. Employees said she would fire people on the spot or fly into a shouting rage if a maid left a lampshade slightly crooked or if a busboy’s fingernails were not sufficiently clean.