Levittown Widow Heir to Fashionista Friend’s Estate?


Simone Levitt with her developer husband, Bill,
at a party in the seventies.Photo: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Heavies like WWD executive editor Bridget Foley, Lincoln Center Theater chief Andre Bishop, and socialite Brooke Garber Neidich packed the Frank E. Campbell funeral home to remember Janet Brown, 59. who died of a heart attack on March 16 while driving to her Port Washington, Long Island, boutique. There she’d charmed clients including Betsey Whitney and C.Z. Guest since 1983 while introducing them to rags by Prada and Jil Sander. But the big question on many mourners’ minds was whether Brown would leave any of her modest fortune to her ex-cohabitant, Simone Levitt.

The two women, long friends, grew closer in the early nineties while nursing Levitt’s husband, Bill, who’d built the postwar prefab suburb Levittown before bankrupting himself so completely that Brown, according to her sister, Elaine Edelstein, was paying the couple’s utility bills. After Bill’s 1994 death, the two women moved into a house together in Oyster Bay, but they parted ways three years ago. Edelstein, who lives near Philadelphia, says the will’s details aren’t “100 percent clear” yet but that “most likely it’ll be me” getting Brown’s shop and two homes. Paris-born Levitt, 78, suggests she won’t challenge that, saying, “I only want back some sculpture and a vase I gave her, for sentimental value. I was more like a mother to her.” The shop, meantime, will stay open, says a staffer. —Tim Murphy

CORRECTION, March 26: Brown did not die in a car accident, as this item originally stated, but rather of a heart attack while driving to work.

Levittown Widow Heir to Fashionista Friend’s Estate?