A New York tale: The Queen of Mean and $12m of Trouble

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The Independent US

It comes to something when you realise that a creature that pees in the street is worth more than you are.

But such is the case for most of us now that a dog called Trouble has been left $12m (£6m) by her best friend, billionaire Leona ("Only little people pay taxes") Helmsley. Whatever the fines are for fouling the sidewalk in New York, this mutt can now poop with impunity, and pay up with its own diamanté credit card.

Even before it came into all this cash, Trouble was a demanding and petulant presence in the salons inhabited by its self-evidently deranged, but now late, owner. The dog was, to be frank, a bitch. Or, if you want to be technical about it, a toy Maltese terrier bitch.

She is seven years old, and was a gift from one of Leona's many advisers. The factotum chose well, for the dog's temperament exactly matched that of its owner: snarling and nasty, with a taste for taking lumps out of the "little people". One of these was Mrs Helmsley's housekeeper, Zamfira Sfara, who bathed the bad-tempered dog and received regular nips. Eventually Ms Sfara sued.

Mrs Helmsley also demanded that the chef of her Park Lane Hotel prepare snacks for Trouble that were tastier than even a Romanian housekeeper. But now the dog is a multi-millionaire in its own right. With its $12m it could buy as many chew toys as it wants, or 1,750,000 packets of Bonio or 775,000 deluxe 'Beware of the Dog' signs, It can even hire one of the little people to follow it down the street in the harsh New York winter and chip it off lamp posts.

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