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Tag: fortune

Ignoring Leona: Dogs have a bone to pick

If Leona Helmsley was betrayed as much in life as she is being betrayed in death, it’s easy to understand why she might have become the bitch — and we’re not talking female dog — she was so often portrayed as.

In the latest development with the wealth she left behind, a second judge has ruled, in effect, that the foundation divvying up her fortune among charitable groups need not follow her express wish that much of that money be spent on the care of dogs.

The judge denied a bid by the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal groups to get a larger share of Helmsley’s billions.

Although Helmsley directed a share of her massive fortune go to “the care of dogs” — that being in addition to the $12 million she asked be left to her own dog — the Helmsley Foundation’s trustees have seen fit to dispense most of the foundation money among organizations that have little or nothing to do with canines.

According to the animal welfare groups, only about $100,000 of the $450 million the foundation has given away has gone to dog causes.

The dog charities argued they should have standing to challenge how the foundation gives away its money in light of Helmsley’s written statements and last wishes. Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, called the $100,000 received so far ”a trifling amount, and contrary to Helmsley’s intentions.”

Surrogate’s Court Judge Nora Anderson in Manhattan rejected the bid by the animal welfare organizations to intervene in the case, agreeing with a judge who ruled earlier that the trustees have sole discretion in how to distribute the money, the New York Post reported yesterday.

She said she feared the groups’ challenge could open the floodgates to countless lawsuits from dog organizations around the world.

It’s hardly the first time Helmsley’s last wishes have been overruled since her death: Of that $12 million she left in her will for the care of her Maltese, named Trouble, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million.

Beyond what she intended to leave for the care and feeding of Trouble, Helmsley had another $5 to $8 billion, according to estimates of the trust’s worth.

Helmsley, who died in 2007, wrote in a 2004 mission statement for the trust that she wanted that money used for “1) purposes related to the provision or care of dogs and 2) such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”

In 2009, though, the Surrogate’s Court found that the mission statement did not place any legal restrictions on what donations could be made from the trust.

Later that year, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and Maddie’s Fund, filed a motion asking the court to vacate its earlier order and allow them to intervene. The primary interest of those groups was not, of course, in seeing solely that Helmsley’s wishes were honored, but neither, it seems, are the foundation’s. The animal welfare groups’ goals seem more aligned with her wishes, though.

By all descriptions, the so-called ”queen of mean” was a hard-hearted woman, with one soft spot — dogs.

The foundation doling out her fortune doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for dogs, or for Helmsley.

I’m no legal expert, just a dog lover, and I’m not asking for Trouble.  But if I arranged to leave my fortune – non-existent though it may currently be — to my dog Ace, or anywhere else, and you didn’t carry out my wishes, you can be sure I’d be back to haunt you.

I’d show you mean.

Heiress’ death leads to celebrity dog fight

Casey_Johnson_dead_Tila_TequilaHere’s a revolting celebrity story — revolting, as you can see in this video, on too many levels to mention.

So we’ll just mention the biggest one. RadarOnline reports that Nicky Hilton and Bijou Phillips, both friends of Casey Johnson, the heiress found dead in her Los Angeles home Monday, arrived at Johnson’s home Wednesday to claim her dogs, including one named Zoey.

The alleged reason? So Zoey could be put to sleep and buried with her owner.

Radar quoted an unidentified source as saying the dog “is in very bad health. Casey would want the dog buried with her.”

While a spokesman for Johnson’s family vehemently denied that the dog was to be put down, Radar ‘s sources said that was the plan. We don’t know if that means it’s true, but we hope it’s not.

 As police stood by, the dogs and personal property belonging to Johnson were removed yesterday by Hilton and Phillips over the objections of Johnson’s fiance, reality TV star Tila Tequila, the New York Daily News reported.

Johnson, 30, was the daughter of  New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and an heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.  She was a diabetic, and had battled alcohol and drug addiction, but the cause of her death is unknown.

Dog charities seek more of Helmsley fortune

Three animal welfare groups are accusing the trustees of Leona Helmsley’s multibillion-dollar estate of ignoring her wishes that the bulk of her fortune should go to dogs.

In a court petition filed yesterday, the animal advocates said the trustees have shown “disdain” for Helmsley’s wishes by donating only $100,000 of $137 million doled out so far to dog welfare.

The petition was filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Maddie’s Fund, according to an Associated Press report.

The groups want the court to throw out a judge’s February decision that gave the trustees for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust sole authority to determine which charities would benefit from her estate.

Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society, said dog welfare was “the only charitable interest specifically designated in the trust instrument. … But what we’ve seen is an utter disdain for the cause of animal welfare and a complete writing off of the animal welfare concern.”

In April, the  trustees gave away $136 million to hospitals, foundations and the homeless. Just $100,000 went to an animal-welfare group, the ASPCA. Another $900,000 went to groups that train guide dogs for the blind.

The trust, in a statement posted on its Web site, said Helmsley, who died in 2007, never wanted her fortune just to go to dogs: “Did Leona Helmsley intend for this charitable trust to focus on the care and help of dogs, rather than people? Absolutely not,” the statement said.

Helmsley, whose fortune was estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion after her death at age 87, also named her dog, Trouble, as a beneficiary, leaving a $12 million trust fund for the white Maltese. A judge later reduced Trouble’s take to $2 million.

Dogs miss out on most of Helmsley’s millions

Trustees of real estate baroness Leona Helmsley’s estate say they’re giving $136 million to charity — and only $1 million of that is going to the dogs.

Animal rights groups rejoiced last year at reports that Helmsley, who died in 2007 at age 87, wanted her entire multibillion-dollar fortune to go to dog-related charities

But a court ruled in February that the trustees had authority to decide which charities could receive funds. Apparently dogs — and Helmsley’s wishes — rated pretty low in the decision-making process. The judge’s decision did not affect the $12 million Helmsley bequeathed to her Maltese, Trouble.

Helmsley’s estate yesterday announced its first round of charitable grants. The largest, $40 million, went to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Most of the money went to health care systems across the country, Newsday reported today.

Helmsley’s estate distributed $1 million to 10 animal rights groups, including $100,000 to the ASPCA.

All of Helmsley’s riches won’t go to the dogs

Contrary to her wishes, billions of dollars designated for dogs in Leona Helmsley’s will won’t go solely to canine causes.

The judge overseeing the probate of Helmsley’s will has ruled that the billions of dollars that will flow into the charitable trust she created do not have to be spent solely for the care and welfare of dogs.

The judge’s decision does not affect the $12 million Helmsley bequeathed to her Maltese, Trouble (above), who was the biggest named beneficiary in her will.

The judge, Troy K. Webber, said that the trustees who control the trust may distribute the money as they see fit. The ruling, dated last Thursday, was reported in today’s New York Times.

“The court finds that the trustees may apply trust funds for such charitable purposes and in such amounts as they may, in their sole discretion, determine,” Judge Webber wrote.

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