Leona Mindy Roberts Helmsley (July 4, 1920 – August 20, 2007) was a billionaire New York City hotel operator and real estate investor. She was a flamboyant personality and had a reputation for tyrannical behavior that earned her the nickname Queen of Mean. She was promoted by the Beber Silverstein Group and its co-founder Joyce Beber who persuaded her to call herself Queen of the Palace Hotel.
Following allegations by unpaid contractors that work done on her home had been charged to her company, she was investigated and convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989. Although having initially received a sentence of 16 years, Helmsley was required to serve only 19 months in prison and two months under house arrest. Helmsley's fate was sealed when a former housekeeper testified during the trial that she had heard Helmsley say: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes...", a saying that became notorious and was identified with her for the rest of her life.
Leona Helmsley, daughter of a hatmaker, was born Lena Mindy Rosenthal in Marbletown, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants. Her family moved to Brooklyn while she was still a girl, and moved six more times before settling in Manhattan. She dropped out of Abraham Lincoln High School to seek her fortune. In a short time, she changed her name several times—from Lee Roberts, Mindy Roberts and Leni Roberts. Eventually, she decided on Leona Mindy Roberts. She legally changed her surname to Roberts. She was a chain smoker, consuming several packs a day. Helmsley would later claim that she appeared in billboard ads for Chesterfield cigarettes, but her claim remains entirely unsubstantiated.