Dog that inherited $12m from US hotelier dies

Leona Helmsley demanded that Trouble, her Maltese, be referred to as ‘Princess’ rather than ‘the dog’. AP

The pampered Maltese bitch with a curly off-white coat died on December 13, spokeswoman Eileen Sullivan said, but news only emerged on Thursday.

She was 12 in human years, or 84 in doggie years, just shy of the 87 years at which her eccentric mistress and benefactor Helmsley died in 2007.

“She was cremated, and her remains are being privately retained,” Sullivan said. The remaining funds held in trust for Trouble have gone to The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

When Helmsley died she left her adored companion $12 million, but a New York judge agreed she had been mentally incompetent and knocked down that fortune to a mere $2 million, while boosting the inheritance left to Helmsley’s human family and to charity.

Trouble, known for snapping nastily at just about anyone except Helmsley, retired to Florida, living and finally dying in luxury at the Helmsley Sandcastle hotel in Sarasota. Trouble chewed through $1,00,000 a year, with $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food and the rest for security against dozens of kidnapping and death threats.

For Trouble, mealtime was never a question of canned meat in a plastic bowl, but fresh chicken and vegetables prepared by a Helmsley hotel chef and served on silver and china plates. The canine had a diamond-collar.

Real trouble

Despite lavishing love on Helmsley, Trouble lived up to her name where the real estate billionaire’s other entourage was concerned. At Helmsley’s death, outraged relatives went to court to complain that the matriarch’s will was barking mad — a final insult from a woman long dubbed ‘Queen of Mean’ for her bad temper, penny pinching and tax evasion.

In the original will, the dog got more than the humans. Two grandsons were told they could receive $5 million provided they promised to visit their late father’s grave annually, while two other grandchildren were cut out “for reasons which are known to them.”

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