Animal Rescue Groups Fighting For Helmsley Funds

Animal Groups Feel Cheated By Helmsley's Estate Managers

By Emily Feldman
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 1:30 PM EDT
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Animal Rescue Groups Fighting For Helmsley Funds

The late Leona Helmsely wanted the bulk of her fortune to go to dog charities.

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Animal rescue groups are working like dogs to get the piece of Leona Helmsley's fortune that they believe, was intended for them.

The ASPCA and over 30 other animal groups have sent letters to the judge presiding over Helmsley's estate, requesting she re-examine the Queen of Mean's charitable intentions, the New York Post reported.

"Mrs. Helmsley's Trust Agreement was clear," Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States was quoted as saying in an ASPCA  August press release. "Help dogs. And the Trustees have not done this, and instead pursued their own agendas with Mrs. Helmsley's money."

When Helmsley died in 2007, the bulk of her fortune, estimated to be between five and eight billion dollars, was left in a charitable trust, which friends and relatives were supposed to allocate for "purposes related to the provision of care for dogs."

But last February, when the first round of checks went out, only $1 million made it to animal organizations. New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center saw $40 million of the fund, and other hospital and health care centers in New York and around the country also benefited from -multi-million dollar donations. The ASPCA received just $100,000.

One not-so-small problem for the animal groups: Helmsley's mission statement for the trust gives her trustees "sole discretion" over who receive a piece of the pie.

The battle that began in August after the first checks were written, continues to play out in Surrogate Court.

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