When she died recently, Leona Hemsley (« The Queen of Mean ») left $12 million to her 8-year old Maltese, Trouble, who was Hemsley’s constant companion before her death last month.

Surely that sets up Trouble for life. Right? Wrong. The fact is Trouble’s in trouble. Zamfira Sfara, a former housekeeper at Hemsleys Manhattan home is suing Hemsley’s estate over severe bites inflicted by Trouble. Sfara says Trouble bit her dozens of times and that the pooch also bit body guards, a nurse and a hotel guest.

And that’s not all. Hemlsey’s brother, to whom Trouble was left, does not want her.

It looks as though Trouble, despite her millions, still has only a dog’s life.

Do you think all this is a perverted example of America’s « conspicuous consumption »?

Or is it just the bizarre behaviour of an idiosyncratic woman who had too much money?



  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    Perhaps it says something about how a notoriously unlovable woman expresses her gratitude for the unconditional love she had yearned for all along.

  2. 2

    Barbara – I hadn’t thought of that angle. I think you may be right. Thanks.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Your headline should actually read « Is any pooch worth 20 million bucks » because, unlike Canada, the United States has a federal estate tax (also called the « death tax »). And, depending upon in which state she was a resident when she died, there very well may be a state estate tax on top of that. The estate tax rate for rich people like Helmsley is 45%, so it would take a gross amount of $20 million to create $12 million after-tax.
    But I suggest there is more than meets the dog’s eye here if we are to answer Neil’s questions and get a glimpse of the nature of Leona’s soul. One would have to examine the Helmsley Estate’s tax filing in order to see what the estate gave to charities in addition to any personal bequests. All bequests from an estate made to a recognizable charity flows to that charity from the estate tax-free. So, say, a bequest to a son of $10 million would end up being, net, $5.5 million to the son; but the same amount given to the Red Cross is the full $10 million.
    If in addition to the $12 million provided to Fido, Helmsley also gave substantial money to charities, then I suggest that this « good karma » negates any suggestion of either conspicuous consumption or bizarre behaviour on her part. Good works excuses alot.
    By the way, Americans are the most generous people on the planet when it comes to giving, both before and after death.

  4. 4

    Tony – Thanks for the info on the American tax system related to giving. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are prime examples of the American giving you site. By the way, Bill Clinton has a new book out called « Giving ».

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