the queen of mean

After posting the obits of four great New Yorkers, I'll post one of a not-so-great. Leona Helmsely is dead at age 87.

Helmsely, the self-described queen of her hotel empire, was dubbed The Queen of Mean by the New York tabloids, and for a time was the New Yorker we most loved to hate. She was the perfect target: rich, arrogant, corrupt and female. Although I was no fan of Leona Helmsely's, I have no doubt that the special venom she drew was at least partially fueled by sexism.

Her most celebrated moment, which I'm sure you'll read about everywhere, came during her 1989 tabloid-rich trial for tax fraud: a former employee testified that Helmsely said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."

Much like the "Ford to City: Drop Dead," it may never have been said (Helmsely always denied it), but it came to define the would-be speaker.

Boy does her death bring back memories. New York in the 80s, a crazy city in a crazy time.

New York Times obit here.

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