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Hamptons Couple Forced To Tear Down Mansion Over Construction Mistake

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house hamptons

Today, our thoughts go out to Eric and Margaret Friedberg, the Hamptons couple who were recently forced to tear down the foundation of their sprawling Southampton Village home because a flaw in the planning gave the property no space for a backyard or a pool, reports The New York Post.   

Upon returning from vacation, the couple was forced to do the unimaginable: to raze the property for a second time. 

The Friedbergs, according to the Post, originally bought the home for almost $2.5 million. It had cathedral ceilings, a pool, and brick terrace, but the Friedbergs wanted none of it. They tore it down in order to construct their own dream home.

But the Friedbergs soon found that their new home was built in the wrong place. So, according to estimates, they spent an extra $100-$150,000 to tear down the concrete foundation and wood structure of the nascent home. 

The Friedbergs are no strangers to controversy. Both are former federal prosecutors and Eric currently heads the risk management and investigations firm Stroz Friedberg. According to ABC News, Eric monitored Dominique Strauss-Kahn during his house arrest and provided bodyguards for Bernie Madoff during the fraudster's trial. 

Now meet the rich and famous residents of Southampton >

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Chinese Students Go To Extremes To Ace The Excruciating National College Entrance Exam

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chinese students, students, china classroom

The notoriously difficult Chinese college entrance exam, the gaokao, is being brought under closer examination after a photo of students cramming for tests hooked up to IVs with amino acids surfaced, along with other horror stories, according to The New York Times.

About nine million Chinese students take the gaokao every year to fight for seven million university spots. The test determines what schools students can attend and what career paths they will take.

The test, which spans two to three days in early June, is regarded as the most important test a Chinese citizen will take, and with that pressure students are going overboard with their efforts to study.

According to the New York Times the relatives and professors of one young girl, Liu Qing, a student from Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, hid the fact that her father died for two months so she wouldn't be upset before taking the test. It wasn't until after the test that she learned the news.

Most of the final year of schooling is devoted to cramming for the test, and critics say it cripples creativity because students are learning to the test. Some spent as much as 13 hours a day cramming once exam time neared.

“We Chinese are indeed the most intelligent people in the world,” Zhong Shan, a prominent Chinese talk show host said in a broadcast that blasted the gaokao. “Is there no way at all we can avoid having the younger generation, the future of our nation, grow up in such a fearful, desperate and cruel atmosphere?”

DON'T MISS: 13 Fascinating Facts About China's Millionaires> 

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SPLITSVILLE: Tour The Many Homes Of Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes

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Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

While Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes allegedly have a pre-nup to help them navigate the rocky waters of divorce, we and our friends over at Trulia couldn't help but wonder: what will happen to all of their real estate?

The duo has five homes—three in California, one in New York City, and a home in Colorado.

In 2005, Tom and Katie bought a $9.85 million Los Angeles home that sits on 2.4 acres.



The couple purchased this $30.5 million Beverly Hills home in 2007. The home spans 10,286 square feet, and has 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.



In 2009, the couple bought a Manhattan apartment for $15.075 million on W. 12th Street.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This Sprawling Outdoor Sculpture Garden Is The Perfect Day Trip From New York City

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Storm King Arts Center

Located about an hour north of New York City in Mountainville, NY Storm King Art Center is a fascinating mix of art and nature. The 500-acre property was founded in 1960, and is open from April to November.

It is a sprawling exhibition of more than 100 sculptures and installations, which includes massive works by well known artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra and Maya Lin as well as smaller pieces by lesser-known names.

We visited the center last fall and an afternoon walking through the property was a cross between a beautiful, leisurely hike and visiting a top-notch museum.

One of the first pieces we were greeted with was "The Arch" by Alexander Calder.



We followed the paths through the picturesque grounds...



Which led us to "Endless Column" by Tal Streeter.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This Sleepaway Camp In The Adirondacks Costs $11,400 A Summer And Is Practically Impossible To Get Into

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Raquette Lake Camp

Kids have escaped the summer heat (and their parents) at sleepaway camps for decades. But not all sleepaway camps are created equal.

The exclusive and expensive Raquette Lake Camp, in the Adirondacks mountains, offers campers million-dollar facilities, a camper to counselor ratio of 2:1, full-uniform attire, Olympic-level sports coaches, and around-the-clock counselor supervision in the bunks, all with 100 miles of shoreline on one of the cleanest lakes in the country.

The price tag? $11,400 for the summer, just for the basics.

"The camp may sound a little resort-like, but our campers are far from on holiday," said Ed Lapidus, whose wife Kathi has owned the camp for a little more than a decade (he calls himself "the camp grandpa"). "Parents want their children to get as much life experience as possible. We're old school."

Raquette Lake sounds like a child's dream, but getting in isn't easy.

There's space for just 450 campers between the ages of 6 and 16 years old in the boys' and girls' camps, and most of those spots are filled by children returning from previous summers. Siblings and legacies (some kids are third- and fourth-generation campers) are admitted next.

Once those children have been factored in, there are usually only 10 to 12 spots left. At that point, potential campers must go through an interview process, to make sure they are the right fit for the camp, Lapidus said. Many wind up on a wait list. Camp staff uses a map to make sure that there are not too many campers from the same school or hometown, so the children truly have a diverse experience.

There are campers from 18 countries and 21 states, and a small group comes to Raquette Lake on scholarship, helping diversify the group of campers even further.

Lapidus said that no day in the seven-week program was "typical" at Raquette Lake. Tennis reigns as the top activity: every camper receives tennis instruction every day. A former Olympic coach heads the camp's equestrian program and imports horses from Florida. Once a week, the campers take on a ropes course.

With easy access to the lake, water sports offerings are also extensive and include sailing, waterskiing, and jetskiing.

Every week at camp, a different age group puts on a full-length play with the help of Broadway and off-Broadway directors, voice coaches, and costume designers.

And one day a week the campers leave the grounds and go hiking, or on nearby trips. These trips can bump up the overall cost of camp to more than $12,000. The 14-year-old campersboys and girls alike take an 80-mile canoe trip.

All the food served at camp is made on the premises (no canned goods). The chefs can accommodate every allergy, and Raquette Lake is completely nut-free.

All electronics, including cellphones, video games, and even hair dryers, are forbidden.

Care packages from home are also not allowed. Lapidus said they take the environment around camp very seriously, and don't want to create any extra waste from the packages. They also don't want to create jealousy among campers.

"You don't need them here," Lapidus said. "If you have a good program and quality time for the children and a lot to do and get them involved, they don't want to play video games or sit alone. It's a very social camp, they be with each other and spend seven weeks having friends, doing things with each other."

The formula, if costly, seems to be working. Lapidus said that campers love Raquette Lake so much that about one third come back as counselors—a very rare ratio.

DON'T MISS: Send Your Kid To One Of These 18 Absurdly Expensive Summer Camps >

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A Treasure Hunt Expert Wants To Sell This $5 Million Golden Eagle For A Great Cause

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Golden Eagle

When Ron Shore's sister-in-law died from breast cancer, he took a unique approach to dealing with grief. He crafted an 18-pound diamond-encrusted golden eagle that will sit at the center of a treasure hunt intended to raise money for breast cancer research.

Shore has always dreamed of sponsoring a treasure hunt of some kind. He even wrote his master's thesis on organizing a million-dollar treasure hunt, but Shore never put his plan into action.

"I thought to myself, it's a nice dream to have, but I'm president of a telecommunications company and  didn't have the time," said Shore, who is president of Telesave Communications in Vancouver, British Columbia.

But when Shore's sister-in-law, Gabriele Helms, died in 2004 from breast cancer, Shore saw an opportunity to fulfill his dream and promote breast cancer research in Helms' memory.

With the help of some friends, Shore decided to craft the golden eagle and write a book with clues to its whereabouts. From these, The World's Greatest Treasure Hunt was created — the treasure hunt Shore always wanted to organize. The hunt's participants use clues from the book and online to solve puzzles and win keys and silver eagles. The participant who ultimately "finds" the certificate to the Golden Eagle wins $1 million.

While the real Golden Eagle isn't the prize for the hunt, it is Shore's way of promoting the competition. The eagle, which is the largest such statue in the world, has been partially covered in 763 diamonds and topped off with a 13.72-carat Atocha Star Emerald. Shore, who paid for the statue out of his own pocket, is trying to sell it for $5 million. Sotheby's estimated the value of the eagle to be around $6 million, so consider Shore's $5 million asking price a discount.

When the eagle is purchased, Shore will donate $1 million of the proceeds to a charity of the buyer's choice. There is also a $100,000 commission for the person who helps find a buyer for the eagle.

Shore's goal is to eventually raise $25 million for breast cancer research from the treasure hunt. Watch the video below to learn more about Shore's project.

If you have a heart and thirst for adventure (and maybe even deep pockets), this is your chance to make a difference.

Now, read about the world's most expensive hamburger (with a diamond-encrusted toothpick!) >

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The Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Ship Is Being Turned Into A 300-Room Hotel In Dubai

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queen elizabeth 2

The Queen Elizabeth II, whose passengers have often included the royal family, is being turned into a 300-room hotel in a Dubai port, Bloomberg is reporting.

The ship, which made its final voyage in 2008, will have its interior preserved during the renovation. The ship will stay at Port Rashid in Dubai, where it's currently located.

Onboard the ship, patrons will be able to explore five restaurants, a cinema, a casino, a health club, a shopping area, a hospital, library and several bars.

There's no date yet when the 963-foot cruise liner will be ready to be used as a hotel.

DON'T MISS: The World's Most Luxurious Cruise Ships >

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Every Inch Of This $10 Million, 150-Acre Pennsylvania Farm Has Been Immaculately Designed

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the farm house of the day

Stroll around The Farm, a 150-acre property in rural Pennsylvania, and you may find yourself secluded in the woods. Or on a horse farm. Or next to a tranquil pond. Or outside of an Amish barn.

Regardless of where you are on the property, it's breathtaking.

This beautiful rustic farm in Robinson Township, near Pittsburgh, is now on sale for $10 million. Its owners have decided to sell the property now that their kids have grown, Esther Dormer, the current owner, told us.

The estate has six buildings on the property. The main barn is 100 years old, built by the Amish.

Everything has been renovated on the property, Dormer said, who purchased the property 12 years ago.

Welcome to The Farm.



The Farm is perfect for large-scale events.



Dormer added an office and bathroom to the barn.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Even If They're Loaded, It Can Be Tough For Foreigners To Buy Homes In New York City

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plaza igor krutoy

Qatari prime minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani may be the buyer of a $100 million penthouse in New York City, but the real estate market isn't always friendly to foreign buyers.

Before purchasing the penthouse, as the New York Post reported yesterday, al-Thani was reportedly turned away three times by co-op boards of other exclusive New York City apartment buildings.

After hearing about al-Thani's trouble in the market, I spoke to real estate lawyer Edward Mermelstein of Rheem, Bell & Mermelstein about the obstacles foreign buyers face when purchasing property in New York City.

Apparently, co-opscorporation-owned apartment buildings in which tenants own stockare bad news if you are a foreign buyer.

Mermelstein's firm has represented hundreds of foreign buyers looking for a pad in NYC. He told me co-op boards' decisions on residents are completely subjective.

Basically, a board can deny anybody they don't want as their neighbor.

"There is no reason (for denial) typically other than the people that make these decisions pick and choose who they want to live with," Mermelstein said. "Most foreigners get scared away from even applying through co-ops."

Mermelstein did say that over 50 percent of NYC property is non-co-op, so foreign buyers tend to invest in property there, often purchasing condos—"real" properties that are purchased individually.

Buying real estate can also be complicated when a buyer purchases on partial or full credit, Mermelstein said. Luckily, most foreign buyers pay in all cash—a payment that streamlines the buying process.

With all the political and economic turmoil in Europe right now, the United States is an attractive destination for the foreign buyer. NYC is by far the number one real state market for buyers in America, followed by metro areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

"Between the political and economic instability, the United States is looking quite attractive (for buyers). We are the beneficiaries," Mermelstein said.

One57, the condominium building where al-Thani supposedly purchased the penthouse, is especially appealing. Mermelstein said over 50 percent of residents there are from a foreign country, because of amenities like housekeeping, laundry and dry cleaning services. One57's staff is even multilingual.

Now, check out the most expensive homes for sale in New York City >

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Legendary Ferrari Designer Sergio Pininfarina Dies At 85

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Sergio PininfarinaROME (AP) — Sergio Pininfarina, who headed a family company known for its designs of sleek Ferraris and other cars, has died. He was 85.

The company said Tuesday Pininfarina died overnight at his home in Turin. No cause of death was given.

The company founded in 1930 has designed cars for Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac and Volvo but is most closely associated with Ferrari, designing nearly all of its models since the 1950s.

It ceased making car bodies in 2010 to focus on its design and engineering businesses.

Pininfarina took over as president in 1966, upon the death of his father. He stepped down to become honorary president in 2006 and was also named a senator for life.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Now See How A $954,000 Ferrari Left Permanent Skid Marks On An Ancient Chinese Landmark >

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Your Zip Code Probably Won't Make Much Of A Difference To Your Kid's Education

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Kids DreidelThis editorial is part of our GREAT DEBATE feature 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?'

I’m from Harvard, Massachusetts – but not the Harvard that you’ve heard of.

It’s a small town in central MA, with one elementary school, one high school, and one stop light.

When people learn where I’m from (after verifying my allegiance to the Red Sox and Dunkin’ Donuts) they often ask about my schooling, having heard that Massachusetts has the best schools in the nation.

They’re not wrong: across numerous measures of student achievement, the Bay State ranks at or near the top in the nation.

But while national statistics are valuable, they provide an impartial view of school quality. They’re also not much help for most American parents searching for the best attainable school options for their kids.

Plus, I’m not suggesting that everyone moves to Massachusetts. It’d get awfully crowded.

"Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New Hampshire are academic super states."

At GreatSchools, we often field questions about the best places to live based on quality of education. From the national perspective, there are states that clearly rise to the top when looking at student achievement: Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New Hampshire, to name a few academic super states.

But in an effort to predict what regions will have the best schools in 20 years, the numbers can be deceiving.

School quality is not measured in black and white, so statistics must be analyzed in conjunction with additional factors.

What’s more, today’s picture of school performance is probably more reflective of the efforts of the past 20 years than what will happen in the next 20 years.

Looking to the future, we would do better to discuss trends that will continue to shape the education landscape and drive school quality. Here is some advice on four trends to watch – and pitfalls to avoid – when identifying the best schools in the future.

1) So called "successful" schools must provide a strong academic foundation – but take care in interpreting the stats.

Mastery of core academic skills like reading, writing, and math is the foundation of any quality education, but measuring schools’ success in those areas is not as straightforward as one might assume. We find the highest reading and math test scores in states like Massachusetts and Minnesota, where students are twice as likely as their peers in West Virginia or Mississippi to be proficient.[1]

But looking at the likelihood of a child’s success throughout school would lead us to Wisconsin or Vermont, states that boast the best high school graduation rates in the country. However, high school graduation requirements vary considerably state by state, so we might look for places where high school graduates are most likely to attend college, revealing further complexity.

For example, while Mississippi has the second-lowest graduation rate in the country (62%), it is first in the nation for college-going rate among high school graduates (77%). Furthermore, overall trends mask the reality that to an alarming degree, high achievement for some does not mean high achievement for all.

In the District of Columbia, white students in 4th grade score highest in the nation in math proficiency (81%), while black 4th graders in D.C. rank third-to-last in the nation on that same test (9%). 

"Overall economic activity in an area is an important consideration for school quality."

Bottom line: the question of quality is highly dependent on what we mean by success – and for whom. Selecting the best schools based on any one of these elements would be tantamount to a doctor giving a clean bill of health based on your blood pressure alone.

You want to look at a variety of academic metrics to get the full picture.

MORE: 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?' at The Great Debate →

2) Strong local support will be necessary for quality schools to thrive.

With around 90% of public school funding coming from local or state governments, there is great variation in school funding levels state-by-state. Compare, for example, the $17,750 provided per student annually in the state of New York to Arizona’s meager $6,448 per-pupil funding rate.[2]

Furthermore, overall economic activity in an area is an important consideration for school quality, as it drives the local tax revenue (i.e., the government’s ability to pay). It may not be a coincidence, then, that four of the five highest-performing states we mentioned (MA, MD, NJ, and NH) also rank in the top ten for personal income per-capita.

But once again, looking at any one of these points alone is insufficient. For example, California ranks #14 in the nation in per-capita income, but #42 in per-pupil funding for K-12 schools, a disparity that many attribute to the state property tax limit that has been in place since the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, and blame for California’s placement near the bottom of the pack in student achievement. Looking to the future, state policies will continue to have a huge impact on local school funding and overall quality.  

Local support for education can take many forms beyond funding, such as how much school districts recognize the essential role of parents in supporting their children’s education. Take Miami-Dade County, for example, where the Parent Academy’s parenting classes, available to all in the county, include infant care, reinforcing reading lessons at home, and dealing with bullying in school.

Similar parent support efforts have cropped up around the country to wide acclaim, such as the Harlem Children’s Zone and San Diego Parent University. Comprehensive and sustained parent empowerment programs will be an essential ingredient to building excellent and equitable school systems.

MORE: 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?' at The Great Debate →

3) Great schools will foster creativity and nurture a love of learning.

While important, student achievement data don’t necessarily get at some of the most important questions that parents have, such as the degree to which students are engaged at school. Beyond providing solid foundational academic skills, outstanding educators nurture a child’s enthusiasm for learning.

A positive school climate that fosters creativity, promotes social growth, and emphasizes skills like team-building and character development, can have a tremendous impact on school quality. An explicit focus on social and emotional learning, as is being embraced by school districts in Chicago, Cleveland, and Anchorage, Alaska, will continue to drive school quality in the future.

4) Diverse student needs will be met through diverse school options.

School districts across the nation are morphing from monolithic top-down systems to diverse groups of school options with innovative models such as dual language immersion and science-focused college prep.

When parents have options, a family’s school choice can be driven by their children’s interests and needs rather than enrollment boundaries. Cities like New Orleans and New York City are taking radical approaches to providing parents with choices and giving schools the freedom to innovate, with the aim of providing every child with access to a school that is both high performing and fits her needs.

MORE: 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?' at The Great Debate →

"The best schools may not be defined by their zip code, but by their capacity to embrace all resources – in school, at home, and through the web."

It May Not Be Where You Live, But How You Live

To be sure, school quality matters. But there are a couple reasons why increasingly, where you live may matter less in determining your child’s chance of success.

Study after study has shown that, regardless of a child’s socio-economic background or where she goes to school, the degree to which her parents are involved in supporting her education may be the single most important factor in promoting student achievement.[3]

Additionally, the rise of the Internet in education will have a powerful leveling effect by providing access to world-class content and instruction to all kids.

Khan Academy, which “flips” the traditional classroom model to free up more time for one-on-one teacher-student interaction, and Rocketship Education, which supports kids in at-risk communities by integrating web-based and traditional instruction, are just two examples of innovation that will grow along these lines.

Thus, the best schools in 20 years may not be defined by their zip code, but by their capacity to embrace all resources – in school, at home, and through the web.  

While we have a long way to go, these trends leave me feeling rather optimistic. After all, I’m not from the Harvard you know in Cambridge, MA. But I am from the town of Harvard, which even without a fancy zip code was a tight-knit community where parents were involved and creativity was encouraged in and out of school.

In the coming years, an excellent education will not be reserved for the Cambridges or Harvards of the world, but will be ever closer within reach for all parents to access for their children.  

MORE: 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?' at The Great Debate →


[1] U.S. Department of Education, “State of the States in Education,” September 22, 2011. http://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/state-of-states/state-of-states.ppt

[2] “Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012,” National Education Association, December 2011 http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates_FINAL_20120209.pdf

[3] Jeynes, William, “Parental Involvement and Academic Success,” Taylor and Francis, New York, 2011. 

About GreatSchools

GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps parents get a great education for their children. Our programs combine the broad reach of digital media with the power of community partnerships. Last year we reached more than 41 million people, including nearly half of all American households with school-age children.

Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, helps families make crucial decisions about where to live and where to send their children to school. With profiles of 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million parent ratings and reviews, GreatSchools.org is the nation’s leading guide to PK-12 schools. In addition, GreatSchools.org offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets that give parents practical ideas and tools to support their children’s learning.

Headquartered in San Francisco, GreatSchools operates field offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.

MORE: 'Where Will Americans Be Living In 20 Years?' at The Great Debate →

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Dubai's Magnificent Burj Khalifa Is A Complete Flop With Buyers

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burj khalifa

The Burj Khalifacurrently the tallest building in the world and a landmark on the Dubai skylinewas lauded for its luxury apartments and deluxe amenities when it opened in 2010.

But the building has been a huge flop with investors, and real estate prices there have plummeted from highs of $2,450 per-square-foot to around $721 per-square foot, the Wall Street Journal's Tahani Karrar-Lewsley reports today.

Investors called the building "distressed" back in February, bringing to mind other super-ambitious real estate projects that have failed in the emirate in recent years.

The Burj, which has 903 residential apartments, opened at a tough time, as other luxury high-rises were launching in Dubai and as the global economy went into a tailspin. The building's heavy security, long elevator trips and high service fees have also been a turn-off for prospective buyers, Karrar-Lewsley writes.

Even so, the developer told the Journal that the building is more than 80 percent occupied. And an investment-sales consultant interviewed by the Journal said he was confident that prices at the Burj would eventually climb, "but no one can say when."

MOVE OVER BURJ: The Next Generation Of Skyscrapers Is Coming >

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These Casinos In Macau Make Las Vegas Look Like A Dump

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macau

Most people think Las Vegas is the capital of the casino world.

It's not.

Casino revenues in Macau, the semi-autonomous administrative region of China, surpassed those of Vegas years ago.

Gambling turnover in Macau is now five times that of Vegas, annually, according to The New Yorker.

And Macau, like Vegas, is building new casinos as fast as it can. Some of them are eye-poppingly awesome. Take a look.

Historically, Macau was a Portuguese colony protected by the Monte Fort, a castle built in 1617. This is a view through one of its walls.



This is the Venetian Macau, the biggest of the 33 casinos in Macau. It has the largest casino floor in the world.



The Venetian is an enlarged replica of the one in Las Vegas.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Meet The Founder Of Style Me Pretty, A Wedding Blog That Brides Are Obsessed With

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abby larson style me pretty

If you're at the age where you or your friends are getting engaged and planning their weddings, you've probably heard of Style Me Pretty, the totally addictive wedding blog that features gorgeous photography from thousands of weddings submitted by readers.

The site was founded just five years ago by Abby Larson, a former wedding invitation designer and her husband Tait, who has a background in software development. Today SMP attracts 1.4 million unique visitors a month and has a huge social media following, with more than 60,000 Twitter followers and around 520,000 monthly visits from Pinterest, by far its largest social referrer.

We asked Abby about the site's beginnings and growth, social media and e-commerce strategies and editorial decisions. She also picked 10 unique weddings that recently appeared on SMP that she absolutely loved.

Click here to see some of Abby's favorite weddings >

What's the story behind Style Me Pretty? Did you see a need for a design-
focused wedding blog?



My background is in weddings and my husband's background is in software 
development. Together, we had a hunch that there was a potentially 
beautiful collaboration between the two of us. Our initial goal was to create
 a space that was as edited and lovely as a printed wedding magazine,
 though in an online environment where brides could satisfy their ideas
 and inspiration cravings throughout the course of their day.

At the time, 
blogging wasn't a new idea. There were plenty of gorgeous design-driven 
blogs out there, though none of them fell into the wedding space, a space 
that we felt was hugely photo driven and poised for something fabulous
 online. So we set out to fill that void and give brides an intimate space where 
they could go to dream about what might be the most important day of 
their lives to date. 



Since then, SMP has grown into a true hub of beauty. We collaborate with 
over 1,700 vendors around the world to put forth the most beautiful, edited
 wedding content out there. It has translated into a collection of some of
 the most innovative wedding ideas a bride could ever want, categorized
 beautifully for easy searching, color coded and organized in such a way that 
the bride can't help but get lost in all of the pretty.



How has the Internet changed the way people plan their weddings?



The internet has changed the way people plan their weddings in so many
 ways. There are now an infinite number of ideas, inspirations and must-
haves that come into a couple’s life every single day. There are real 
weddings that inspire vendor choices and venue selections. There are color 
palette choices and décor ideas. There is a steady stream of "stuff" that can 
often make planning a wedding in this day and age quite overwhelming.


But thankfully, the web has also made the process of organizing those loves 
so much more seamless. With the click of a button, brides can save their
 ideas, book their vendors, share their inspirations, loop in their guests,
 build out their weekend activities and so much more. It's instantaneous in 

many respects and far more efficient than it ever was.



You've experienced huge growth in a short time--how did you do it?



Our brand has grown really fast over the last few years but we keep our
 company really tight, employing only those that push the ship further
 along each and every day. By doing this, we are able to pivot really
 quickly, make decisions fast, implement even faster and see the results at 
lightning speed. We are also extremely thoughtful about the changes and
 developments we make to our site. We want our readers to grow with us, 
which means understanding what THEY want, not what we think is the next
 coolest thing.



Brides seem like a fervent group of followers while planning, but do they drop off once the wedding passes? How do you keep readers around?



We tend to see brides move on from every day clicking about three
 months after their wedding. Much of online trending is simply in day-to-
day behavior and brides get comfortable with Style Me Pretty during their
 journey. They are often remiss to give it up after they've said their I-Do's.


Although we acknowledge a certain amount of drop off, we do sprinkle in 
content that would resonate with any person who loves fashion, DIY, style 
and inspiration. From Do-It-Yourself projects to tablescapes, many of the 
ideas on SMP can easily translate to home and entertaining which often 
keeps the newlyweds coming back for more.



Are most Style Me Pretty readers brides-to-be? Other surprising 
demographics?



About 90% are brides to be. The other 10% is a blend of industry 
professionals and wedding junkies.



Pinterest feels like a perfect fit for brides-to-be, and Style Me Pretty has
 had a lot of success on the site (and in fact doesn't look too different from
 a Pinterest board). Any advice for brands trying to build up followings?

Be authentic. Pin only what you love and what is on brand for you. I do 
think that brides and wedding industry pros tend to pin at lightning 
speed, namely because it is an environment that is primed to fall in love 
with ideas, but I think that our success can be attributed to two things:
 consistency and style. We pin daily and we stick to on-brand imagery.



How do you decide which weddings to feature? How many submissions 
do you get, compared to how many are on the site?



We get between 400 and 600 real wedding submissions per week and have 
built a custom submissions solution to keep up with this volume. Within
 each submission we can quickly sort through the images, read the story,
 check out the vendors involved, populate these weddings to our galleries,
 apply rollover credits, extract colors, build inspiration boards and if you
 can believe, do so many more cool things. It makes the sheer volume of
 weddings much more manageable.

Every wedding received gets a response 
back as well. On any given week, we feature between 60-70 real weddings
 across 12 content streams (our main SMP page, 10 local pages and our 
Little Black Book blog).



What are Style Me Pretty's plans in regards to e-commerce?



We are working on developing a white label checkout tool so that we
 can offer e-commerce on our site and let brides take advantage of the
 flash sale trend. While there are no plans to make this a large part of our business model, we do see the value in giving brides access to the kinds of 
products that we are curating on SMP each day in the real weddings that
 we feature.



Any other secrets of social media strategy you'd like to share?



Social Media seems to have taken over the world a bit. And in turn, many
 brands have lost their authenticity in an effort to be as many things to as
many people as possible. That isn't a great strategy and the opposite has 
proven to be super successful for SMP.

We approach social media much 
like we curate our own blog content. We want each image pinned, each 
wedding on Facebook, each moment tweeted to be 100% on brand with 

SMP.

 Each platform offers different features and user demographics. To really 
understand where each platform shines you need to get your hands dirty 
and play with them.

For instance, we find that Twitter reaches more
 Wedding Vendors than Facebook. We find that Facebook is far more Bride-
focused than Twitter.

 No matter what you do, remember that social networks are inherently 
human. They are meant to share a person's experiences, not market a 
business. So be human. Engage people. Create a conversation.

A wedding at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum

See more on Style Me Pretty >



A wedding at a parking garage in Spokane, Washington

See more on Style Me Pretty >



A "swoontastic" wedding in Beverly Hills

See more on Style Me Pretty >



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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How A Wedding Blog Became One Of The Most Shared Sites On Pinterest

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abby larson style me pretty

Wedding photography is perfectly suited to Pinterestbeautiful, relatable and shareable.

Style Me Pretty, a photo-centric wedding blog that's seen explosive growth since it launched five years ago, has aced the Pinterest formula. It's the twelfth most shared website Pinterest, capturing around .4% of total pins on the site, according to an RJMetrics analysis from earlier this year. The blog gets around 520,000 visits a month from Pinterest, by far its largest social referrer.

The blog, which gets 1.4 million unique visitors a month, has a simple social media strategy: keep every tweet, pin and post 100% on brand strategy, according to founder and editor Abby Larson.

She shared some of Style Me Pretty's other social media secrets with us (emphasis ours).

On Pinterest:

Be authentic. Pin only what you love and what is on brand for you. I do 
think that brides and wedding industry pros tend to pin at lightning 
speed, namely because it is an environment that is primed to fall in love 
with ideas, but I think that our success can be attributed to two things:
 consistency and style. We pin daily and we stick to on-brand imagery.

On Twitter and Facebook:

We approach social media much 
like we curate our own blog content. We want each image pinned, each 
wedding on Facebook, each moment tweeted to be 100% on brand with 

SMP.

 Each platform offers different features and user demographics. To really 
understand where each platform shines you need to get your hands dirty 
and play with them.

For instance, we find that Twitter reaches more
 wedding vendors than Facebook. We find that Facebook is far more bride-
focused than Twitter.

 No matter what you do, remember that social networks are inherently 
human. They are meant to share a person's experiences, not market a 
business. So be human. Engage people. Create a conversation.

On e-commerce:

We are working on developing a white label checkout tool so that we
 can offer e-commerce on our site and let brides take advantage of the
 flash sale trend. While there are no plans to make this a large part of our business model, we do see the value in giving brides access to the kinds of 
products that we are curating on SMP each day in the real weddings that
 we feature.



Now check out our complete Q&A and Abby's favorite weddings >

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Join the conversation about this story »


Meet The Billionaire Qatari Sheikh Who May Have Just Bought A $100 Million Home In New York City

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Hamad Bin Jassim Qatar

For the past few years, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani has been looking for a place to hang his hat.

Not just any place though. 

The head of the richest country in the world (according to the IMF's per capita GDP figures) has been scouring London and New York for some ultra-decadent digs capable of housing his two wives, 15 scions, and scores of bodyguards. 

Finally, the sheikh appears to have found suitable stomping grounds in New Yorkhe reportedly purchased the $100 million penthouse at a still-under-construction ultra-luxury apartment building on West 57th Street (though the developer denies he's the buyer).

Whether or nor the Prime Minister is officially coming to New York, his life is pretty awesome. Let's take a closer look.

Jaber al Thani's family has ruled Qatar since the mid-19th century. His cousin, Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, is the country's Emir — a veritable head of state. Jaber has two wives (concurrently) and 15 children.

Sources: Royal Ark and the New York Post



Jaber al Thani has been looking for a place to hang his hat in New York City. Unfortunately, he's been rejected by three separate co-op boards there.

Source: The New York Post



The boards are reportedly wary of his 15 children and massive entourage. They're also concerned about the fact that he has diplomatic immunity, which would protect him from reproach if he were to damage the properties or skirt payments.

Source: New York Post



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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17 Moments From The Past Year When It Felt Awesome To Be American

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Kate Upton America

In the past year, Americans have memorialized a great inventor, celebrated the success of a Congresswoman, and seen major advances in science. 

As we celebrate Independence Day, let's remember the recent moments when it felt awesome to be an American.

President Obama announced a formal end to the Iraq War.

A solemn December ceremony marked the end of the Iraq War and the last U.S. soldiers stationed there came home.



The Internet rallied together and raised $700,000 for bullied New York bus monitor Karen Klein.

Klein, who was taunted by students in a viral YouTube video, can now retire.



We all united to remember Steve Jobs and his great inventions.

Though everyone was deeply saddened by Jobs' death after a long battle with cancer, Americans celebrated the achievements of one of the greatest innovators of our time.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: This Beautiful Home On Long Island's Gold Coast Is A Steal At Under $15 Million

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cold springs harbor, ny home $14.75 million

This beautiful stone estate on Burrwood Court in Cold Spring Harbor, NY is on sale for $14.95 million.

The home has seven bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, and two half bathrooms.

The house was designed by Thorndike Williams Design and Kean Construction. It over looks Cold Spring Harbor on the north shore of Long Island, and has breathtaking views.

Welcome to Burrwood Court.



You're greeted by a fireplace upon entering.



The house has smart technology throughout.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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BILLIONAIRE TOY OF THE DAY: A $1 Million Vacuum Plated In 24-Carat Gold

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With the money this vacuum costs, you could employ a whole army of housekeepers.

But if you value doing your own dirty work, GoVacuum is selling a metal vacuum plated in 24-carat gold for only $1 million, according to the Daily Mail.

The vacuum has a top-of-the-line 10-amp motor, 14-inch wide cleaning nozzle, anti-marring urethane wheels and weighs only 16 pounds.

Justin Haver, GoVacuum's vice president of sales and marketing, told the Daily Mail he envisioned the vacuum in a prophetic-like vision one night.

"Six months ago, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and was blinded by golden light in my half-asleep daze," Haver told the Daily Mail. "I thought, why is there not a gold vacuum for sale?"

To attract buyers, GoVacuum is offering the gold-plated machine at an introductory sale price of $999,999. If that's not convincing, GoVacuum will throw in free worldwide shipping so you can enjoy this commodity at the lowest price possible.

"Is it worth its weight in gold? No, but even the status and exclusivity of owning a vacuum like this can't be measured in dollars and cents."

In other words, do you want to be the coolest housewife on the block? Go get yourself a GoVacuum, but act fast, because there are only 100 available.

Gold plated vacuum

Now check out the most ridiculous things rich people bought this year >

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British Painting Sells For Record $35 Million After Causing Uproar In Spain

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john constables the lock

John Constable's "The Lock" sold for $35 million, a record for the artist and one of the most expensive British paintings ever sold, according to ArtInfo.

The painting was sold by Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, a Spanish Baroness, through Christie's auction house.

Her decision to sell the painting caused an uproar in her home country, with people calling it  called it a "moral shame" that it would leave Spain, according to The Telegraph.

One member of the board of the Madrid art museum where the painting had hung even resigned in protest.

The baroness claimed she decided to sell the 1824 masterpiece in order to make some needed cash during Spain's liquidity crisis. She had acquired it as part of a collection from her late husband, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.

The buyer of the painting remains unknown.

DON'T MISS: The 10 Most Outrageous Luxury Items Rich People Bought In June >

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