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Celeb Friends Recall Slain Woman

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LARRY McSHANE | November 2, 2007 07:12 AM EST | AP


NEW YORK — Linda Stein beat cancer, survived the Bowery's seedy punk rock scene and thrived amid the high-stakes world of Manhattan real estate. Her sudden death came in an unexpected way and place: violently, inside her $3 million Fifth Avenue apartment.

The brutal bludgeoning of the 62-year-old Stein, dubbed the "Realtor to the Stars" in the years after she quit rock 'n' roll for real estate, left behind shaken friends and family as police searched Thursday for her killer. Stein was found face-down two nights earlier in the living room of her apartment.

A team of detectives was interviewing employees at her posh doorman building, and reviewing security videotape in an effort to identify a suspect.

Friends like Madonna and Elton John recalled Stein's indomitable personality, and her triumph against breast cancer.

Madonna was an unknown singer when she signed with Sire Records, owned by Linda's ex-husband Seymour, in the early '80s. Later, with Linda's help, the now international star purchased a pricey Central Park West apartment.

"I had a great visit with Linda and Seymour backstage after my show last year at Madison Square Garden, and we of course reminisced about the good old days," Madonna said. "I deeply admired her courage in her battle with breast cancer, as well as her career success."

John was the godfather to Stein's daughter Mandy.

"Im absolutely shocked and upset," the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter said. "Shes been a friend for over 37 years and will be greatly missed. She did so much for breast cancer and was a huge supporter of my AIDS Foundation."

Other celebrity friends and clients included Sting, Billy Joel, Steven Spielberg and Angelina Jolie. She was among those at the epicenter of punk rock, becoming a fixture at the legendary CBGB and co-managing the influential punk band the Ramones.

"She was quite the character," said Meg Griffin, a Sirius Satellite Radio disc jockey who knew Stein from the late '70s. "She was a loud New Yorker, but endearing. She was one of those people who had their finger on the pulse of this music when it was in dingy, small clubs."

She fared well after changing careers. A real estate agent peddling a hot property to Charlie Sheen's "Wall Street" movie character was based on Stein.

Stein's body was discovered by Mandy, a documentary filmmaker who did the film "Too Tough to Die" last year about the late guitarist Johnny Ramone. She had another daughter, Samantha, and a 3-year-old granddaughter.

"She raised two wonderful daughters," Madonna said. "That was her best accomplishment of all."