Harry Helmsley, who went to work at 16 as a $12-a-week office boy and built a real estate empire that included the Empire State Building, once said he owed his success to his mother.
"The best advice I ever got was from my mother. It was simply, `Buy real estate.' And like a dutiful son, I bought and bought and continue to buy throughout the country," Helmsley, who died Saturday at age 87, had recalled.A billionaire whose success was overshadowed in recent years by his wife Leona's highly publicized conviction for tax evasion, Helmsley died of pneumonia at a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"My fairy tale is over. I lived a magical life with Harry," Leona Helmsley, who was married to her husband 25 years, said in a statement.
Leona Helmsley, who was at his side when he died, ordered the lights on the Empire State Building turned off at night for one week to mark her husband's passing. He had no children.
"My properties are my children," he once said.
An admitted penny pincher, Helmsley could be generous to charity. In 1986, he donated $33 million to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.