Friday, November 09, 2007

Arrest made in death of 'Realtor to the stars'"Realtor to the stars" Linda Stein's client list included Madonna, Sting, Billy Joel and Angelina Jolie.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The personal assistant of Linda Stein, who was at the epicenter of the punk rock scene and later the "Realtor to the stars," has been arrested in Stein's fatal bludgeoning at her Fifth Avenue apartment.

Formal charges were pending against Natavia Lowery, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

She "made statements implicating herself" in the killing, he said.

Stein's daughter found her body the night of October 30 face down in the living room of her $3 million apartment, where she lived alone. There were no signs of a break-in or robbery.

An autopsy found that Stein, 62, died from blows to the head and neck.

Stein was a pioneer in New York's punk music scene, becoming a fixture at the legendary CBGB club in Manhattan and co-managing the influential punk band the Ramones.

She was the ex-wife of Seymour Stein, the former president of Sire Records, the launching pad for the Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna.

Stein co-managed the Ramones during the band's heyday and is credited with bringing the group to England.

She was dubbed a broker to the stars in the years after she quit rock 'n' roll for real estate, with celebrity friends and clients who included Madonna, Sting, Billy Joel, Steven Spielberg and Angelina Jolie.

The New York Times

November 9, 2007

Assistant Arrested in Killing of Real Estate Agent

A Manhattan personal assistant fatally bludgeoned her boss, the well-connected real-estate agent Linda Stein, in the woman’s opulent Fifth Avenue apartment because Ms. Stein “just kept yelling at her,” a law enforcement official said today. The assistant was arrested this morning.

Officials said the assistant, Natavia Lowery, 26, of Brooklyn, made statements implicating herself in the Oct. 30 killing of Ms. Stein after detectives interviewed her and re-interviewed her in recent days. Criminal charges from the Manhattan district attorney’s office are pending. Ms. Lowery was being held at the Seventh Precinct on the Lower East Side.

According to the woman’s account, her tempestuous relationship with Ms. Stein — a punk-rock pioneer and real estate agent who worked with numerous celebrities — built from animosity to violence, the official said.

“It was that Linda just kept yelling at her, over everything” the official said. “They fought. It was like a continuous thing, like a buildup.”

Another official, Paul J. Browne, who is the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that investigators followed a dual path of combing for physical evidence while conducting dozens of interviews with Ms. Stein’s friends, acquaintances and family members.

Investigators returned to Ms. Stein’s apartment to examine the door frame of the apartment and collect fiber samples from the carpet, while detectives from the 19th Precinct in Manhattan and from the Manhattan North Homicide Task Force interviewed Ms. Lowery repeatedly.

Ms. Stein, 62, a real estate broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, had a varied and storied career. Born in the Bronx, the daughter of a Jewish caterer, she was a pioneer on the punk-rock scene and became a manager for the Ramones. Later, she turned to real estate, working with celebrity clients like Madonna and Billy Joel.

The singer Elton John is preparing a memorial concert in Ms. Stein’s memory.

Citing friends of Ms. Stein, The Daily News reported that the real estate broker might have met Ms. Lowery when the younger woman worked as a secretary at the Rogers & Cowan public relations agency in Manhattan.

The News, citing unidentified sources, reported that Ms. Lowery had been arrested in December on misdemeanor charges of identity theft and petty larceny — and that Ms. Stein did not know about the arrest.

According to The News, Ms. Lowery had been accused of stealing a high school friend’s identity and using it to open accounts at Target and T-Mobile and to make additional purchases in Virginia. The charges against Ms. Lowery were eventually dropped and the case was sealed, The News reported.

In a phone interview from her home in Dalzell, S.C., Ms. Lowery’s aunt, Julia Carrow Lowery, 44, said a detective had called her sister this morning to say that Ms. Lowery had been arrested.

Ms. Lowery insisted that her niece enjoyed working for Ms. Stein. Natavia Lowery found the job through a temporary employment agency and began work for Ms. Stein in July, the aunt said.

“She always talked about the lady, how nice she was,” Julia Lowery said. “She was not nice to a lot of other people, but she was nice to Natavia.”

Julia Lowery said her niece grew up in New York, graduated from a college in the South and “comes from a good Christian family.”

“My niece is not even capable of doing something like that,” Ms. Lowery said. “When she gets mad, she is not capable of going into a rage.”