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Couture from 'Queen of Mean' set for auction block

CHICAGO (AP) - Fur coats, designer gowns, plus dozens and dozens of pairs of Ferragamo shoes, are headed to the auction block from real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley's haute couture closets.

Collectors can even bid for the Chanel skirt suit that Helmsley wore when she began serving a sentence for tax evasion, the case that earned her the nickname 'the Queen of Mean.'

Thousands of items belonging to the late socialite and hotel owner - nearly her entire wardrobe - will go on the block May 18 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

The collection includes size 6 to 8 feathered ball gowns, dresses, shirts and suits by designers Bob Mackey, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior. The collection could fetch as much as $100,000.

'They're wonderful and people could wear them today,' said Leslie Hindman, president of the Chicago-based auction house. 'They're really pretty extravagant looking, but they're such great quality that they'd be fun to have.'

The auction also will offer 250 pairs of Helmsley's Ferragamo shoes - size 8.5 with their signature matching bows.

Helmsley, who died in August at age 87, ordered her property be sold and the proceeds donated to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked her the 369th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion.

Christie's plans to hold more than a dozen auctions to sell items from Helmsley's homes in New York, Connecticut and Florida.

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On the Net:

Auctioneer: http://www.lesliehindman.com/