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There's A Massive Tax Break Behind Estee Lauder Heir's $1 Billion Art Donation


leonard lauderLeonard Lauder, the billionaire heir to cosmetics giant Estée Lauder, just donated an unprecedented 78 Cubist paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

It's a gift so monumental that even art appraisers have shied away from assigning an exact dollar value (Forbes is throwing around a $1.1 billion estimate, while one appraiser told ABC News it could be as much as $2 billion).

Lauder himself has been a long-time lover and collector of art, a well as a prominent philanthropist in the art world. Just five years ago, he endowed more than $130 million to the Whitney Museum of Art and last year he donated $1 billion worth of art to his own private art gallery, the museum Austrian and German art. 

“Whenever I’ve given something to a museum, I’ve wanted it to be transformative," Lauder told the New York Times of his donation to the Met. “This wasn’t a bidding war. I went knocking, and the door opened easily.”

But there's no denying that behind that door was more than just the opportunity to cement his legacy for decades to come –– Lauder is also employing one of the most commonly used tax strategies of the wealthy. 

A master of tax evasion 

Lauder is no stranger to working the tax code in his favor. He's often cited in arguments for getting rid of the cushy tax breaks for charitable giving that hugely benefit the uber wealthy.

For example, it's no coincidence that his cable television network, CME Enterprises, maintains an official headquarters in Bermuda, a well-known tax haven. In a 2011 investigative piece by the New York Times', it was revealed that Lauder used his stake in Estée Lauder to create a tax shelter that allowed him to skirt around "as much a $10 million in federal income taxes for years." 

His latest gift to the Met, though obviously a move that will immortalize him in the art world, is also conveniently another opportunity to reduce his taxable income.  

"There's always a motivation behind this kind of donation," Wayne Steiger, founder of FlowPay, a mobile platform for charitable giving, told Business Insider

"No. 1, I think people are generous, but in this day and age when you're doing tax planning, those things also have a great benefit to their estate." 

Current U.S. tax code allows taxpayers to deduct charitable donations up to 30 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI), which means Lauder could be looking at a $300 million-dollar tax break –– and that's based on Forbes' conservative $1 billion appraisal of his Cubist collection. 

"You can only deduct so much of your AGI, but the balance can be carried forward to another tax year," said Janet Briaud, chief investment officer of Briaud Financial Advisors in College Station, Texas. 

"That means you may not be able to deduct the whole value of the gift right away, but it may be deductible over a number of years." 

So is this donation the legacy Lauder is looking for, or simply a way to minimize his tax bill? 

Chances are it's a combination of both. Lauder spent more than four decades –– half his life –– meticulously cultivating his Cubist collection, which includes 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Légers and 14 works by Gris.

"For most people who give things like this, there's an issue of wanting to pass on something more [than just money]," Briaud said. "They want to make a difference. It doesn't have to be totally selfish, but it could be trying to leave that legacy. It's all part of the [estate] planning process."

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Suddenly Everyone Is Buying Private Islands


Necker Island Wildlife, CaribbeanPrivate islands are all over the news.

It's rumored that Jay-Z is looking for a private island getaway for wife Beyonce and baby Blue Ivy, and Skorpios — the most famous private island in Greece — just sold to an anonymous Russian billionaire for $153 million.

Last month, the Emir of Qatar bought $11 million worth of islands, also in Greece. And Oracle honcho Larry Ellison spent a reported $600 million on his own Hawaiian paradise last year.

But lots of celebrities and wealthy people own their own private islands, which are, perhaps, the ultimate symbol of wealth. Here's a look at some of those owners.

Actor Johnny Depp paid $3.6 million for 45-acre Little Hall's Pond Cay, in the Bahamas, in 2004 after filming "Pirates of the Caribbean."

Source: Huffington Post

Jay-Z is rumored to be spending around $3 million on an island in North Abaco, a district in the Bahamas, so he can have a private place to escape with wife Beyonce and baby Blue Ivy.

Source: The Sun

Skorpios Island, off the coast of Greece, was the private island of the late Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis. It just sold to a Russian billionaire for $153 million.

Source: Business Insider

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Here Are All The Drinking Games Being Played On College Campuses


Beer Pong

If you're out drinking with college students, you're more likely to play beer pong than quarters, according to a new study from Loyola Marymount University that looked at the most popular drinking games students play around the country.

White males (specifically those in fraternities) were the most likely to play games like beer pong or do keg stands.

Female, non-white, and students unaffiliated with Greek life were more likely to play "chance" games that relied on the luck of the dice or cards, according to the study, which was published this month in the academic journal Addictive Behaviors.

Across sexes, race, and Greek status, "even competition" games were the most common, with roughly 73 percent of respondents saying they had played flip cup, civil war, or beer pong in the last 30 days. These were also the games where students reported drinking the most alcohol.

Women were more likely to consume the same amount of alcohol no matter what kind of game they played, while men were more susceptible to over-drinking during what researchers called "extreme consumption games," including keg stands or "shotgunning" beer.

Those types of games were also the most likely to lead to memory loss, regrettable sexual encounters, fighting, "shame and embarrassment," or "feelings of going crazy."

Headed by psychology professor Joseph LaBrie, the findings were based on surveys taken by 3,400 students from two campuses in Southern California who admitted to consuming at least one alcoholic drink in a typical week.

LaBrie says the purpose of the study was a starting point for further research on drinking games, and a way to help students make smarter decisions while consuming alcohol (i.e. suggesting a game of chance over one of competition).

Researchers, who split the games into five categories, also discovered more drinking games than you ever knew existed:

drinking game types

DON'T MISS: WORK HARD, PARTY HARD: America's Most Intense Colleges

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Here's The Cushy Hamptons Rehab Where Lindsay Lohan Will Spend 90 Days For $50K


Lindsay Lohan Rehab

When Lindsay Lohan was recently sentenced to 90 days of in-patient rehab, she reportedly asked to check in after this weekend's Coachella music festival in Palm Springs.

Lohan has since reportedly chosen Seafield Center in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. as the place where the party girl will attempt to reform her ways.

["No comment" was all a rep for the center would say when asked if Lohan is indeed becoming a patient.]

The only problem is that when Lohan does check in, she will be faced with yet another challenge: staying inside the facility when the hottest summer club scene is just 15 minutes away.

But, as TMZ reports, "If Lindsay tries to leave, she can't be stopped, but someone would see her and notify authorities. That would trigger a probation violation and the judge would almost certainly throw her butt in jail."

Seafield CenterTMZ notes that the cushy facility also has 24-hour staff guarding the doors, as well as surveillance cameras and walls.  

And the cushy rehab retreat doesn't come cheap.

One week at the Seafield Center costs $4,025, so Lohan will be spending $51,750 on her 90-day stay.

Lindsay isn't the first Lohan to check into Seafield, her father Michael also stayed there in 1989 and reportedly and became close with Executive Director Mark Epley.

Michael tells TMZ that Epley knows the Lohan "family dynamic" and wants to do family therapy while his daughter serves her court-ordered time this summer.

Sounds like Lindsay will have plenty of time for family therapy, as the Seafield website states patients are not allowed to bring "mp3's-ipod's, radios, TV, cell phones, tape recorders, cameras or beepers."

Seafield aims to "restore dignity to clients, support a return to healthier, more productive lifestyles, and provide programs to prevent relapse and assist families as well as the client."

Check out photos from the Westhampton facility's website below:

Lindsay Lohan Hamptons Rehab

Lindsay Lohan Hamptons Rehab

Lindsay Lohan Hamptons Rehab

TMZ has more photos of the Seafield Center >

SEE ALSO: David Letterman asks Lindsay Lohan if she's an addict >

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Learn To Cook In Your Own Kitchen In Just 4 Weeks


This is Feast 101.

Why We Love It: Feast is an online cooking program that let's you learn at your own pace. The class includes video tutorials and photos that break down basic cooking skills, and allows students to skip around if they forgot how to do something or have already mastered a particular skill.

The class is taught by Jeremy Umansky, who is a veteran chef at Brooklyn Fish Camp. The four-week program that only requires a basic list of utensils and ingredients.

Each week, students are emailed a link to the latest recipe, and encouraged to share pictures and problems with each other on the Facebook group or email the chef with questions.

Feast 101 cooking class


Feast 101 cooking class

Where To Buy: Available through Feast's website.

Cost: $60.

Want to nominate a cool product for Stuff We Love? Send an email to Megan Willett at mwillett@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO:  Wallpaper That 'Tricks The Eye' Is Coming Back Into Style

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The World's Currencies Like You've Never Seen Them Before


fundamental unit 5 coinSome nations have debated getting rid of their smallest monetary denominations. 

Even President Obama came out against the penny earlier this year.

Photographer Martin John Callanan is trying to save these coins for future generations, using images.

His project The Fundamental Units is a series of extremely large prints showing the lowest value coins from countries around the world. He hopes to photograph coins from 166 different countries.

The project is in collaboration with the UK's National Physical Laboratory, where Callanan is using what he calls "Europe's best microscope," an Alicona infinite focus 3D optical microscope to capture the images, according to Petapixel.

He takes 4,000 exposures, and then over three days he is able to process them into one single 1.2 x 1.2 meter photo.

Australia - Australian Dollar

United Kingdom - Pound Sterling

Myanmar - Kyat

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Riders Dropping 17 Stories On A Roller Coaster Look Truly Terrified [PHOTOS]


Roller Coaster FaceYou think you're tough. Yeah you can take it. This is only a roller coaster. Totally safe, totally engineered to give you a thrill. You'll contain your composure.

Yeah right.

You will make faces and you will scream and make noises like "Ho ho ho!" and "Squeeee aaiii eeeee!" and close your eyes like a terrified mouse. If you've ever seen the pictures the theme parks snap of you while on the coaster then you already know this. 

I recently made a holiday trip to Universal Studios Orlando Florida and took a few minutes to capture some rider expressions as they hit the first big drop on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, which features a 17-story, straight down drop and speeds of 65 mph. 

Are you ready for summer? What kind of roller coaster rider will you become? 

It starts off simple enough, with a humble 90 degree drop from 17 stories. But if you look closer...

...then you might see some are truly "enjoying" living over the edge. This is called the "Oh sh*t! I'm a gonna die!" face.

This is the "Miami Vice" rider. They seek the thrills and conquer them in their white jackets.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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12 Chic Kitchenettes That Can Add Space To Your Tiny Apartment


houzzA kitchenette, which is simply a small kitchen, can provide all the cooking necessities for a smaller living space.

It also can provide a welcome layer of convenience in a bigger house.

Whether you're downsizing, moving into a microunit or wanting the convenience of a mini kitchen in the basement, guest suite or garage, these designs have ideas for you.

Click here to see the kitchenettes >

More From Houzz:

Culshaw Bell: Complete Kitchenette

This brilliant kitchenette inside an oversize armoire includes a sink, a microwave, a mini fridge and induction heat. This setup is perfect for a loft, a guesthouse or office space.


Eminent Interior Design

This clever kitchenette definitely falls in the convenience camp. A beautiful second kitchen, it's adjacent to the dining room and features a refrigerator and freezer drawer; coffee and other drinks can be served easily from it. The sink and bar area could have been fully concealed behind beautiful walnut doors too.


Bill Fry Construction

Open shelves provides plenty of storage in this finished garage and allow for placement of this kitchenette under a window. This convenient setup allows the garage to be used as an entertaining space that opens to the outdoors.


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5 Years After 'The Wire,' Nothing Has Changed For Baltimore's Poorest Neighborhoods [PHOTOS]


Kids roam the streets of one of Baltimore's poverty stricken areas

The popular HBO series The Wire introduced us to the grim reality of drugs, gangs, and life in poverty in Baltimore, Maryland.

It was filmed in and around the city from 2002 to 2008, using its urban grit as a natural backdrop, and it featured local residents as extras and even in small supporting roles.

Five years after the show wrapped, it seems that nothing has changed for Baltimore's poverty-stricken neighborhoods, dark streets and boarded houses.

AP photographer Patrick Semansky captured that state of the city's poorest areas in a photo essay this month.

Baltimore has lost nearly a third of its population since its peak of about 950,000 residents in the 1950s.

In this April 8, 2013 picture, two young men walk through a neighborhood of vacant row houses in Baltimore. Baltimore has lost nearly a third of its population since it peaked in the 1950s, and today an estimated 16,000 buildings are vacant or abandoned. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

More than 4,000 people are homeless. Some choose shelters, other become squatters on abandoned properties. In the picture below, two homeless men eat ice cream cones across the street from a block of vacant row houses.

In this Tuesday, April 9, 2013 photo, two homeless men who gave their names as Earl, right, and Angelo, eat ice cream cones across the street from a block of vacant row houses in Baltimore. A biennial census of Baltimore's homeless population that is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development counted more than 4,000 homeless people in 2011. Some choose to seek shelter in the city's estimated 16,000 buildings that are vacant or abandoned. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A homeless man displays a pin that holds his jaw together, which he said he received after being beaten and robbed while sleeping in a vacant row house, seen behind him, in Baltimore.

In this April 9, 2013 picture, a homeless man who gave his name as Angelo, displays a pin that holds his jaw together that he said he received after being beaten and robbed while sleeping in a vacant row house, seen behind him, in Baltimore. A biennial census of Baltimore's homeless population that is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development counted over 4,000 homeless people in 2011. Some choose to find shelter in the city's estimated 16,000 buildings that are vacant or abandoned. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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This Young Woman Doesn't Regret Traveling Around 'Unsafe' India On Her Own


India 9.JPG

Editor's note: Allison Reiber is a New York City-based writer who spent a month traveling solo throughout India soon after several highly publicized sex attacks on women. She wrote about her experience for Business Insider.

Just off the plane in India, while my auto-rickshaw driver navigated the labyrinthine streets of Kolkata, I found myself thinking “where are all the women?”

The fruit sellers, stoop sitters, pedestrians and passengers were nearly all men. But I didn't only see this in Kolkata. Through the next four weeks traveling in northern India, the population would seem to me similarly off-balance.

My solo backpacking trip through Southeast Asia was nearing its end when I booked my flight to India in February. I had become a confident and capable solo traveler and was lucky to be leaving Southeast Asia completely unscathed.

I knew India would be crazy and overwhelming, and I felt ready for it. But the backpacker scene was buzzing with the news of the multiple rape cases in India — one involving a tourist— and I began to worry that going alone might not be a smart choice.

My new icebreaker was “have you been to India yet?” and I milked fellow travelers for their tips and experiences. Reviews were mixed, but I heard a handful of horror stories. Several women told me that due to their negative experiences in India, they would never go back to the country.

India 2.JPGThis left me particularly crestfallen because, from my cliche-ridden standpoint, women should love India. The Taj Mahal, the country’s most famous and visited tourist attraction, is a stunningly beautiful monument to love. With the bright colors bursting from sari shops, the bangles, nose rings and bindis, the spice markets, the sugary chai and spicy vegetarian food that you get to eat with your hands, India is an adventurous woman’s Paris.

But I had been dreaming about visiting India since I first saw "A Little Princess" when I was a young, and I decided not to change my plans. I’m happy I didn’t. My time in India turned out to be the most valuable experience of my trip, and I came away with a greater understanding of what it is to be a woman in this world.

The most common complaint from female travelers was the constant feeling of being watched. I can’t stress how true this is and yes, it is exhausting. I always wore long pants or floor-length skirts with conservative shirts, and I began wrapping my hair in a scarf to look less conspicuous, but the staring never stopped.

It was most uncomfortable on the overnight trains. Every time I opened my eyes, I would find someone — or the entire compartment — staring at me. I once woke up to a young man with his arm through the window holding his cellphone camera over my face. These moments were stressful and frustrating for me, but I soon came to understand that they weren’t threatening.

India 8.JPGWhen a crowd of onlookers started to form that made me feel uncomfortable, I found the best response was to raise my voice, make a scene and the group would dissipate. If I laughed or smiled, they thought I was teasing and almost always stuck around. 

The fact is that Indian people — men and women — just stare a lot. American children are taught that staring is rude from the time we are pushed around in the shopping cart at the grocery store. When caught, Indians will look you right in the eye and keep on staring. It’s a cultural difference that feels rude to us, as much as their incessant honking of car horns, but they don’t mean any harm.

The more serious problem women travelers face is the groping. Sadly, almost every woman I met who traveled in India — whether alone or with a group — experienced this at some point, myself included.

I visited Khajuraho, a little town in Madhaya Pradesh that is home to a temple complex known as the “Kamasutra temples” because of the erotic art decorates the exteriors and interiors of the temples. A guard, a man in his 50s, offered to give me a quick tour of one of the temples and I agreed. Though it was daytime, it was dark inside the windowless temple so he used a flashlight to illuminate the sculptures.

It was awkward that he only pointed out the erotic sculptures, but I thought it was fair enough — that’s what the tourists come to see. Then his hand brushed my chest and I thought it was a mistake until it happened a second time, with a bit more force. I stepped back, said I had to leave, and walked towards the door.

India 16.JPGHe put out his arms to hug me but as I brushed past, he asked if I was married. I said I was, thanked him, and walked out. (That’s another thing — pick a husband’s name and stick with it.) This behavior is insulting and inexcusable, and shockingly common. Luckily my experience was a mild one.

As an American woman in India, you will feel like a spectacle much of the time. But it’s because you stand out that people come up and introduce themselves. Some of the best experiences in my travels started that way. Even the less enjoyable moments were a learning opportunity.

Traveling through India does not always feel like a vacation, and it requires patience and precaution. But it is incredibly worthwhile, especially after one accepts that, like anywhere, there is a certain amount of risk to assume, and looks past the annoyances to seek out the beauty in a rich and fascinating culture.

So ladies, go to India. Buy some linen pants, don’t walk alone at night, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

SEE ALSO: Take An Overnight Houseboat Cruise Through The Backwaters Of Kerala, India

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GADGET LOVERS: You Need To Get On The Wait List For This Hip New Curated Site



Grand St. is a New York City based startup that's all about gadgets. 

But the difference between Grand St. and Best Buy or Amazon is the curation of cutting edge products.

The gadget boutique sells some of the hottest toys around that you can't find anywhere else.

Important people are starting to notice Grand St.: the 7-person startup just secured $1.3 million in funding.

Grand St.'s products have included the MindWave Mobilea headset that lets you control a toy helicopter with your mind, and the Lapka, an environmental smart sensor that lets you measure how organic your apple is.

Grand St. is planning on opening up the site to everyone this summer. For now, you can check out the site and sign up for the wait list.

We caught up with Grand St. to talk about the vision behind the hot new NYC-based startup. 

Read the whole piece over at Open Forum>

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Life Is Great In America's Thinnest City


Boulder Colorado

For the third year in a row, Boulder, Colorado has been crowned the "least obese" city in America, according to newly released Gallup data.

The metro area posted a 12.5% obesity rate, less than half that of the national average of 26.2%.

Boulder's low obesity rate is largely due to the city's outdoorsy lifestyle, young population, and commitment to sustainable and healthy living.

Gallup tracks U.S. obesity levels as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, and uses Americans' self-reported height and weight to calculate the Body Mass Index scores (BMI scores of 30 or higher are considered obese).

The City of Boulder has more than 60 parks with great community activities for young and old residents, such as dance, golf, gymnastics, tennis, and yoga.

Source: City of Boulder, Colorado

There are also more than 40 yoga studios in Boulder, an impressive number for a city of just under 100,000 residents.

Source: Yelp

Thanks to its dry climate, Boulder is sunny (or mostly sunny) more than 300 days of the year.

Source: Boulder Guide

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Scantily-Clad Women Shine Shoes At New Wall Street Shop



FINANCIAL DISTRICT — A new shoe-shine shop in the Financial District is banking on the "ultimate" formula for cleaning up scuffed wingtips: polish, buff — and skimpy shorts.

Like the Hooters of the shoe-shine world, Star Shine NYC, at 40 New St., employs beautiful, young, scantily clad women to offer a professional service — with a view.

Co-owner Kevin White Jr., 30, said he and his dad, who both live in Queens and work in finance, had bounced around the idea of an upscale shoe-shine spot run by attractive women for some time, and finally decided to make the move.

“We thought it could be a successful twist,” said White, who opened the store three weeks ago. “Finance guys are so busy and stressed, this is a chance to unwind and relax. It’s definitely an upgraded shoe-shine experience.”

Despite the little black shorts and tight tank tops sported by all the female employees, White said the store, which features large leather chairs and flat-screen TVs, is meant to have a classy atmosphere. White also hopes to start serving beer and wine in the store in the next couple of months.

“All the young ladies have undergone professional training — this is an upscale place,” White said. “Many of the women are students or just out of college. Even my sister, a college student, is working there.”

The store's location, on a short, narrow street between Exchange Place and Beaver Street, doesn’t get lots of foot traffic, but White said word of mouth, along with the women passing out fliers on Wall Street in their uniforms, has been drumming up business.

On Wednesday morning, one man, already a repeat customer, was getting his black shoes polished by 19-year-old Kaya Santiago, a Westchester Community College student, in the otherwise empty shop.

“They do a good job,” said the Wall Streeter, who asked his name not be used because his boss didn’t know he was taking an early-morning break. “And yes, it helps that they are very pretty — but the prices are a little high if you don’t get the discount.”

The regular price for a shoe shine, which takes about five minutes, is $7, though the store is offering up a $4 deal for customers who come in before 11 a.m.

Star Shine is also offering its services outside of the shop. If patrons gather 10 or more people in need of a shoe shine, the girls will come to them.

Plus, the women are also setting up booths at corporate events and parties.

“We’ve been surprised by how many corporations have been reaching out to us,” White said.

The women have already booked gigs at events for financial advisors and brokers, as well as at a software trade show at the Javits Center.

As for the women, the two working Wednesday said they’ve enjoyed their shoe-shine jobs so far.

“It’s actually fun,” Santiago said. “Everyone’s been nice, and it's something to do while I'm in school.

"And the tips can be good, usually."

More from DNAinfo.com:

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Chinese Rich Kids Post Photos Of Their Bank Accounts Online After 'Sex Party' Feud


guo meimei casino

China's new money rich kids are getting more and more outrageous — and creating more and more of a backlash online.

The latest scandal started earlier this month after reports of a "sexy party" at the Hainan Rendez-Vous Lifestyle and Yacht Show in the coastal resort of Sansa.

Shanghai Daily reported on the sordid details of the party, including allegations that one model earned 600,000 yuan ($97,000) from the sex parties, and that more than 2,000 condoms were used over 3 days. Local government officials are now investigating the reports. 

The scandal escalated as members of a luxury group called the Sports Car Club (SCC) accused notorious a 20-year-old socialite, Guo Meimei, of offering sex for money at the party. Guo had previously set off a controversy for flaunting her luxurious lifestyle online while claiming (falsely) to work for the Red Cross.

Guo responded with a photo of 5 million yuan ($800,000) in casino chips (as seen at the top of this post), implying she didn't need the money.

It was at that point that (rumored) SCC members responded by posting photos of their bank accounts.

Here's one picture doing the rounds on Weibo:

Weibo Bank Balance Screenshot

The screenshot appears to show a bank balance containing 3.7 billion yuan— at current exchange rates around $597 million.

According to OffBeatChina, the owner of this bank account is believed to be 19 years old.

Another user responded by posting a screenshot of their own account:

Weibo Bank Balance Screenshot

It's a little hard to make out, but that bank account appears to have over 9.9 billion yuan — $1.5 billion.

These screenshots may well be fakes, but they've certainly stirred a lot of hatred online, where they became part of the highest trending topic on Weibo.

"I'm not surprised hearing something like this," one Weibo comment quoted by Shanghaiist says, "but it is really quite disgusting for a bunch of rich, bored fuerdai [second generation rich] to show-off their fancy lives like this."

As new money pours into China, stories of outrageous rich kids are getting more and more prevalent.

While outrage online is largely directed at the spoiled sons and daughters of newly-mminted entrepreneurs, politicians' families have faced criticism too. Notably last year the fabulous life of Bo Xilai's playboy son was scrutinized and a tragic $1 million Ferrari crash ruined the political ambitions of the young driver's father.

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Culination Is A Virtual Cookbook That Will Help You Eat Healthier


caen contee

Caen Contee learned how to cook from his mother.

As a young boy, just seven years old, he watched her prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day from their home kitchen in Brazil for a squad of family members. 

"That really was the beginning seed for me of not only starting a passion for food, but also an investigation," Contee said at a Catalyst conference last year.

Today, Contee is the co-founder and CEO of Culination, a new kind of cooking website that combines recipes with step-by-step instructional videos, taught by experts in the food and beverage industries. 

"The problem with traditional cookbooks is that they usually only show pictures of the end-product," Contee explained to Business Insider over a video chat. 

A glamour shot of Coq au Vin, for example, doesn't offer many visual clues about how to sauté mushrooms until they're perfectly browned, or braise chicken so it's just the right tenderness.  

Culination, now in private alpha, is a full-service cookbook — one that will not only tell you what to cook and how to cook it, but also how to customize recipes to fit your diet needs.  

That could mean filtering recipes based on personal information about specific allergies or recommending ingredient substitutions.

Eventually, the site will be voice-activated so you don't have to touch a screen while your hands are, say, covered in messy egg yolk. 

culination responsive lesson interface

The goal is to expand the culinary skill set of home cooks, while bridging the gap between food and health — an idea that was shaped by Caen's own experiences.  

Caen was heavy as a teenager. He weighed 265 pounds in high school, but made it his goal to slim down before college. The entrepreneur lost about 95 pounds through traditional Chinese nutrition. Meanwhile, he developed his cooking talent by working in restaurants and teaching cooking classes. 

Culination represents the culmination of Caen's personal triumphs and desire to infiltrate our fast-food culture.

The website launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo this week. It will be available to the public later this year. 

culination request platform

The team recruited health expert Cyrus Khambatta, who has a Ph.d in molecular and biochemical nutrition from UC Berkeley, to author nutrition lessons that are easy for a general audience to digest. He will be holding a Q&A session on the Indiegogo page on Friday, April 12, from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m EDT.  

"We want to provide a level of understandable, scientific, credible information," said Contee.

Early users will have access to roughly 100 lessons that are housed in Culination's "Pantry"; the company's fancy term for a recipe index.

From there, the content will largely be user-directed. Culination will customize or create content for users based on how much money they are willing to contribute. Site-wide interest of specific topics or cuisines will drive what videos get produced. A strong interest in Mediterranean food, for example, will result in more videos that demonstrate how to cook Mediterranean dishes. 

"Entire sections of videos will be devoted to things like weight gain and weight loss," Khambatta told me over the phone. "We're not necessarily trying to eliminate one type of food, or market a diet to vegetarians or vegans. The recipes will include meat, gluten and lactose, but we want to provide people with the education about what those ingredients do in their bodies," he said.

SEE ALSO: Paul Ryan Can Thank This 54-Year-Old Man For His Ripped Body

THE FAST DIET:  Get Thin Quick By Starving Yourself Two Days A Week

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Now A Carnival Cruise Ship Has Failed Its Health Inspection


Carnival Fascination cruise ship in 2011

The Carnival Fascination failed a health inspection in February after Center for Disease Control and Prevention inspectors found live flies, roach nymphs, dried food waste, and many other violations throughout the cruise ship.

This latest public relations headache is accompanied by unusually low discounted rates on Carnival cruises.

Anyone looking for a vacation on the cheap can sail the Caribbean on the Carnival Imagination for just $43 a night later this month, according to NBC.

Jay Caulk, general manager of The Travel Experts, told NBC that Carnival was "desperate," and "They have a lot to do to get rid of the black eye."

The health inspection report, released this week, revealed the wide variety of "deficiencies" that earned the ship a score of 84 out of 100. Anything below 86 is failing.

Some of deficiencies were mundane, like no paper towels in some of the rest rooms, and lights not as bright as required.

Others were more serious, including the storage of toner cartridges, Purell hand sanitizer, and liquor in the same room.

Some were gross: Flies and roach nymphs were found in a drain below a juice dispenser, in a pantry, in a room service area, and in an undercounter compartment in a kitchen.

The report also notes, "there was a large fly around the uncovered raw hamburger patties."

The Fascination, which sails in the Caribbean, last failed an inspection in June 1997. It has received grades mostly above 90 since then.

The failing score caps off a string of terrible news for Carnival, which began in February when the Triumph was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for five days after an engine room fire.

Since then, two other cruises have been cut short due to technical problems, and the Triumph broke loose from port in Mobile, Alabama, where it was being repaired.

SEE ALSO: A Photo History Of Carnival Cruise Ship Disasters

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Bras Actually Make Breasts Saggier, According To The French


women exercising beachA 15-year study out of France this week claims that bras could actually make women's breasts saggier, according to French newspaper The Local.

Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a researcher at Besançon CHU, has been measuring the breasts of 330 women ages 18-35 since 1997 with a slide ruler and caliper to see the effects of bra-wearing.

Of the women involved in the creepy-sounding study, the researcher found that those who wore bras risked not developing supporting breast tissues, which then led to sagging breasts.

According to Rouillon, women who didn't wear a bra had very different results: "Their nipples lifted on average seven millimeters in one year in relation to the shoulders," he told The Local.

"Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra,” Professor Rouillon told France Info radio on Wednesday.

The internet, of course, collectively scoffed at the so-called "preliminary study." But Refinery29 spoke with a plastic surgeon Dr. Stafford Broumand, who says the claim actually seems plausible. 

"For younger women, not wearing a bra will lead to increased collagen production and elasticity, which improves lift in a developing breast," Broumand told Refinery29. "Also, tension on the connective tissue and ligaments supporting the breast can be beneficial to prevent sagging."

Both Broumand and Rouillon agreed that those who have been wearing bras for a long time or who are older would gain no benefits from decreased bra usage.

DON'T MISS: 10 Scientifically Proven Ways To Make Yourself More Attractive To The Opposite Sex

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Architects Turned A Master Bedroom Into A 130-Square-Foot Apartment [PHOTOS]


Mini Paris Studio

From NYC's micro apartments to one couple's 140-square-foot home, small living spaces are the "it" trend in home design.

And now it seems they've made their way over to Europe.

First reported on by Wired, American architect Marc Baillargeon and French architect Julie Nabucet converted a 130-square-foot master bedroom in Paris into a chic studio, and the result is incredible.

The apartment is located in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris, and was created for the owner's son. In order to work, their design needed to be hyper-efficient in space, aesthetics, and storage.

The end product is a bi-level studio apartment with a kitchen, bathroom, and even a hidden pull-out bed.

You have to see it to believe it.

What was originally a master bedroom with nine-foot-tall ceilings is now a bi-level living space.

It has steps that lead to the kitchen, eating, and bathroom areas.

The living area can be converted to a bedroom in a moment's notice. The kitchen table and second level help make the two areas feel separate.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Richard Branson Lost A Bet, And Will Dress In Drag On An Upcoming Flight


richard branson in dragRight now, somewhere in Malaysia, a red skirt is being tailored to fit Sir Richard Branson.

On May 12, Branson will join Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes on a flight from Perth, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The six-hour trip is a special one, as it's finally the moment Sir Richard makes good on a bet he lost to Fernandes in late 2010, over whose Formula One race team would be ranked higher.

Spoiler alert: Fernandes' Lotus Racing team won over over that of Virgin, and the plans to install Branson as a flight attendant on an Air Asia X flight began.

The event has been delayed many times, but finally seats are now for sale from $399 AUD ($420 USD) on the special, one-way flight, and may be purchased online. Be sure to book AirAsia X’s flight D7 237 on Sunday, May 12.

For your money, Air Asia X promises that "the charity flight will also be filled with fun games and activities for the guests," while Branson will be committed to carrying out the responsibilities of a flight attendant, including offering coffee, tea and other food and beverages to guests.

No word on if he'll be performing the safety drill as well!

As it's a bet between billionaires, it wouldn't be right to pocket the money just to have a laugh. So, $100 from each seat and 10% of all inflight sales onboard will be donated by AirAsia X to the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Australia, a charity which provides care and support for seriously ill children.

This flight will mark Branson's second time wearing a skirt, as it was only earlier this week he donned a traditional Scottish kilt for the launch of Virgin Atlantic's "Little Red" flights from London to Edinburgh. For the Air Asia X event, however, the skirt requires shaved legs and red high heels.

Looks like we need to update our guide to the wacky costumes of Sir Richard Branson pretty soon...

richard branson in drag 

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MEET THE LAUDERS: The Cosmetics Tycoons Who Just Gave Away A Billion Dollars In Art


Estee and Jo Lauder

This past Wednesday, philanthropist and cosmetics tycoon Leonard Lauder donated a cubist art collection worth $1 billion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That may seem extravagant, but Lauder can afford it — Forbes estimates he's worth $8.1 billion, due mainly to the cosmetics empire founded by his mother, the late Estée Lauder.

Her shrewd sales tactics and corporate strategy have kept the Lauders on top for over seven decades. Estée Lauder pioneered giving out product samples to women, encouraged them to try her scents at the department store counters, and undercut her competitors with cheaper prices and better marketing.

Today, the Estée Lauder empire now owns 29 other big-name brands and reported sales of just over $9.7 billion to investors last year.

And how the Lauders spend all that money is almost as interesting as the rags-to-riches story of how the daughter of two Hungarian Jewish immigrants left behind a beauty dynasty.

Estée Lauder was the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants.

According to the book Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers' Trust from Wedgwood to Dell, Estée Lauder was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in 1908 in Queens.

Her father was Max Mentzer, a Hungarian Jewish man who immigrated to the United States in the 1890s.

Her mother Rose also left Hungary in 1898, but came to join her first husband with their five children. The historical record is fuzzy, but within seven years of arriving she had left her first husband and married Max Mentzer instead.

She got her start by selling cosmetics in a beauty salon.

Estée's uncle John Schotz was a chemist with his own cosmetics company, New Way Laboratories. She would sell his products for him.

The story goes Lauder was getting her hair done and was approached by the salon's owner about her "perfect skin." Lauder says in her autobiography that she came back to the store and gave the salon owner a makeover with her uncle's products.

The owner was so impressed that she let Estée sell the creams and cosmetics out of the salon.

Her first "factory" was actually based out of an Upper West Side restaurant.

By the time Estée married Joseph Lauder in 1930, her business in Manhattan beauty salons was on the rise.

So she stopped selling her uncle's products in 1935 and started her own company — Estée Lauder, after her middle name.

The couple ran the business together out of a small office on 39 East 60th Street in Manhattan, and made all of the creams and cosmetics on gas burners in a former restaurant on 1 West 64th Street, according to Brand New.

They even attached the labels themselves.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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