Stephanie Adams, 46, and her son, Vincent, had checked in to the Gotham Hotel the previous evening. From their penthouse suite on the 25th floor, they fell 23 floors, and landed on a balcony on the second floor around around 8 am, an officer said.
The police have yet to determine whether it was a murder, suicide or an accident. The hotel management has also declined to comment.
Ms Adams was involved in a tough custody dispute with her estranged husband Charles Nicolai, a chiropractor, and cops had been called to their home several times in the past, police said.
Raoul Felder, a divorce lawyer who represented Ms Adams, said he had been friends with her for 20 years, but stopped representing her in the divorce case a few months ago. Recently, when she told Mr Nicolai she wanted to go to Europe to be with her boyfriend, it became an issue, he said.
"If you met her, you would say, 'This is the politest, sweetest person you could ever meet,'" he added.
Ms Adams was Playboy's "Miss November" centrefold in 1992. She featured again in America's popular men's magazine in 2003. She had two business degrees, written several self-help books, ran an online beauty products company and managed the finances at estranged her husband's office.
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