Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leona Helmsley: 'The Queen of Mean'

A Wealthy Bitch Named Trouble

When Leona died, everyone was curious to know who would inherit the billions of dollars she left behind. It wasn't that big of a surprise that her grandchildren Craig and Meegan Panzirer were left absolutely nothing, considering the fact that Leona had a falling out with them years earlier. However, what was a shock was that one of the main beneficiaries of her estate was her little 8-year-old Maltese pooch named Trouble, who inherited a whopping $12 million dollars.

Leona with Trouble the dog
Leona with Trouble the dog

Trouble, like the rest of Leona's problems followed her around everywhere she went. Leona had a close bond with her dog that many found bizarre. According to Leona's former housekeeper Zamfira Sfara, Leona believed that her deceased husband Harry communicated through Trouble, Kerry Burke and Jose Martinez reported for the New York Daily News. The two often shared a bed together and "she [Leona] would lick the dog tongue and tongue" which Sfara found, "unnatural" and "unhealthy," it was further reported.

Trouble the dog
Trouble the dog

Trouble was a bitch in every sense of the word and spoiled beyond belief. Sfara said in the article that Leona gave the animal a diamond collar and was waited on hand and foot by one of Leona's prized chefs, who would stop their work to prepare the pooches elaborate meals. Despite the lavish attention and the fancy feasts, the dog would often resort to volatile behavior by biting the hand that fed it.

According Sfara, Trouble ferociously bit her on several occasions while feeding the animal, wounds that caused nerve damage that rendered her unable to work, it was further reported. To Sfara's surprise, Leona often applauded Trouble's nasty behavior, sometimes saying that she deserved to be bitten. Needless-to-say, Sfara lasted only three months at her job before being fired because she sought medical care. In 2005, Sfara sued Leona in a case that was later dismissed by the courts. The case is currently in appeal.

Leona's brother, Alvin Rosenthal was appointed trustee of his sister's estate and guardian of Trouble, who is thought to reside at Dunellen Hall in Greenwich, Conn, Xana O'Neil and Jose Martinez reported for the New York Daily News. The dog allegedly suffers from kidney problems and it is unsure if it will live to a Maltese's average life expectancy of 14 years. Arrangements have been made for Trouble to follow Leona to her final resting place, upon the animal's death. However, it is unclear what will become of Trouble's fortunes thereafter. If Trouble is found liable for damages, there is a chance that Sfara could net a substantial sum of the dog's inheritance, proving that Leona's legal trouble's are far from over.


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