By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com February 14 2001 12:00 AM ET
Patrick Ward, the 45-year-old chief operations officer and vice chairman of the Helmsley real estate empire, has left his job after an apparent falling-out with 80-year-old Leona Helmsley, who reportedly thought that she and Ward, who is gay, were involved romantically. Confidants of Helmsley’s said she told them that she and Ward were dating and that marriage might be in their future, The Wall Street Journal reports. But Wards attorney, Raymond Hannigan, said that Helmsley wrongfully, maliciously, and for discriminatory purposes pressured Ward to leave once she learned he is gay. Hannigan added that Ward could not have made it more clear in his public and private statements that he had no romantic interest in Mrs. Helmsley. Helmsley had no comment. Ward was hired by Helmsley about four months ago, shortly after she met him at a Miami social event. Both sides are now considering legal action.