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This Guy Turned A Dumpster Into His Dream Brooklyn Getaway

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Greg_Dumpster 1125Making the most out of a minuscule living space is something of a rite of passage in New York City. 

Studios used to be the extreme, but then came the rise of "micro-apartments," challenging dwellers to new heights of consolidation. 

And now, thanks to one designer, we may have come across the smallest (and strangest) apartment yet: a dumpster. 

Gregory Kloehn has converted a $2,000 commercial dumpster into a fully functional living space, complete with bathroom, bed, barbecue and a deck. He was recently featured on HGTV's "You Live in What?" and took viewers on a tour of his tiny home.

"It just hit me," he said. "I thought hey, this is the perfect shape for a home." 

You've got to see this for yourself.

Greg, a designer, started with a $2,000 commercial dumpster.

Source: "You Live In What?"



For ultimate transportability, he added wheels to the bottom.

Source: "You Live In What?"



Then he set to work on remodeling the interior, using mostly hand tools anyone would have lying around the house.

Source: "You Live In What?"



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


How Volkswagen, BMW, And Chrysler Are Navigating China's Tricky Luxury Market

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China chrysler

China’s slowing economic growth, government and state-run media criticism, and a growing number of competitors entering the marketplace are just a few obstacles faced by top global automakers Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW in the country’s luxury auto market these days.

However, these multiple changing conditions have prompted the companies to undertake a set of multifaceted strategies in order to attempt to regain growth numbers that dropped off at the beginning of this year.

China’s slowdown took its toll on luxury auto market growth after a decrease in GDP growth numbers was accompanied by government austerity policies such as a ban this spring on military license plates on high-end cars. The picture wasn’t looking great earlier this year: during the first few months of 2013, Volkswagen’s Audi, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, and BMW all sawyear-on-year growth or sales declines. While the first two months of the year saw sales growth around 20 percent overall for passenger cars, the number dramatically decelerated to 11 percent in March.

However, second-quarter reports are showing recovering growth from this year’s earlier downturn. Mercedes-Benz car unit sales in China increased to 60,000 in the second quarter of 2013 as compared to 59,700 in the second quarter of last year for a 1 percent increase, after seeing a massive sales decline of 47 percent in February. Meanwhile, BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce second-quarter sales grew 22.5 percent to 96,984 units, bringing up the total first-half sales growth rate to 15 percent after only a 9 percent increase in January and February. However, growth isn’t necessarily what it was last year, as Volkswagen’s first-half sales rose 18.7 percent for the first half year-on-year, compared with 24.5 percent at the end of 2012, and BMW’s numbers may seem small when you consider the fact that its sales surged by 40 percent last year.

As growth seems to be picking back up but has remained slower, auto companies have had to adapt to concerns regarding pricing, environmental policies, and branding strategies in order to gain an edge in this complicated market.

Firstly, these three main brands have been dealing with comparatively high prices due to tariffs — or according to Xinhua, “claiming” that high China prices are due to tariffs, by avidly pursuing joint venture deals allowing them to produce cars in China. BMW even went so far this year to announce the creation of its Chinese sub-brand Zhi Nuo, which should be hitting the market sometime before the year’s end. However, this strategy is not without its quality assurance risks, as BMW recently had to recall 140,000 China-produced cars due to reported safety issues.

Relatedly, BMW was also recently denied expansion of its Shenyang factory due to environmental concerns, another issue of which the brands are highly cognizant, especially considering recent auto sale limits in certain Chinese cities to try to cut down on dangerous pollution levels. Last week, BMW chose Beijing as one of the three locations for the new rollout of its i3 electric car model, and has been sponsoring a sustainability campaign in China for years. Meanwhile, Volkswagen was sure to point out in its first-half report of this year that it is undertaking sustainability initiatives in China as well, and is “setting new ecological standards in sustainable automobile production in terms of resource conservation and waste production” in the country.

In order to try to catch up to Audi and BMW in China, whose sales outstrip those of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler has embarked on one of  its “biggest model offensives ever”, with a plan to launch 13 new models by the end of the decade. According to a recent investor conference call with Daimler:

We assume that unit sales in the second half of this year will be above the level of the first half. China will contribute to that. Thanks to the rollout of a new product, the increasing benefits from the retail network expansion and the integrated sales company, we expect sales of passenger cars in China to grow further during the second half of 2013.

Volkswagen has also emphasized the benefits of new model rollouts in China, such as the recent introduction of Bentley’s new Flying Spur.

For now, Volkswagen commands the lead of China’s passenger car market, with an Audi-dependent market share that stands at 20.6 percent. However, Daimler and BMW aren’t the only companies it needs to worry about. A growing number of competitors are stepping up their game to edge their way into the luxury market. Nissan has been touting its China design center, where it works on Infiniti models, GM’s new Cadillac plant is underway, and Chinese brand Hongqi has been trying to capitalize on Chinese nostalgia by promoting new “vintage” models in recent months. The economic outlook for China’s market is far from certain for the second half of the year, but it is clear that luxury automakers in China will all be stepping up their game in order to remain key players in the years to come.

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Partially Blind Photographer Takes The Most Beautiful Pictures Of Storms

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Storm Terry Rosema

Terry Rosema is a storm chaser from Grand Rapids, Mich.

He is also partially blind.

Despite having little to no vision when looking straight ahead, the trained graphic designer takes arresting photos of tornadoes, lighting, and other severe storms. 

Rosema's story came by way of The Weekly Flickr, where you can learn more about his path to storm-chasing. 

The photographer was kind enough to let us republish some of his images here.

You can see more of Rosema's work on his Flickr photostream

Rosema became interested in storm chasing in 2008.

Read more about Rosema's photos on The Weekly Flickr »



At that time he was working as a graphic designer in Michigan.

Read more about Rosema's photos on The Weekly Flickr »



A friend, who was a meteorologist, asked him to help design a vehicle that could drive through storms.

Read more about Rosema's photos on The Weekly Flickr »



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


Restaurant Mogul Danny Meyer's Barbecue Joint Is Devising A New Menu For Delta

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Blue smoke burgers

Restaurateur Danny Meyer is taking his food to the skies: The force behind Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack is partnering with Delta Air Lines to provide food on certain trans-Atlantic flights.

Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group announced today that it will create "BusinessElite Express Meals" for Delta’s three daily flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and London-Heathrow.

The menu will be devised by chef Kenny Callaghan and Chef de Cuisine Jeffrey Held of Meyer's Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant, though there's no word yet on whether barbecue will be featured.

Blue Smoke is known for its "low and slow" barbecue cooked over hickory and apple woods. The Gramercy restaurant serves up brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, which would make for delicious  if messy  in-flight fare.

The new menu, as well as a specialty cocktail, will officially debut in February of next year.

This is also not the first time Delta has expanded its culinary team to evolve its in-flight food. The airline currently has specially catered menus for flights to Latin America, Mexico City, between New York-JFK and select California cities, as well as on West Coast flights to Japan.

SEE ALSO: The 20 Best Airlines In The World

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Take A Tour Of Rory McIlroy's Contemporary Mansion In Florida

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The PGA Tour posted an exclusive video of Rory McIlroy giving a little tour of his modern mansion in Jupiter, Fla.

McIlroy, who is sponsored by Bose, shows off his speakers throughout his house and talks about how much he loves winding down by listening to music. He also shows us his kitchen, where he doesn't cook much, and his full gym, where he works out a lot.

Step inside with Rory:

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The 20 Best College Campuses In The US

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Claremont McKenna College Campus

For most students, the college experience is not limited to their time in the classroom. Much of what a school has to offer can be found on its campus — from great libraries to standout career services to, simply, beautiful surroundings.

We looked at 11 campus-related categories from The Princeton Review's 2014 college rankings to determine which colleges offer the best campus experiences.

Click here to read our complete methodology.

There was no discernible connection between the colleges that came out on top, as they represented everything from Ivy League universities to small liberal arts colleges to technical schools. Perhaps more telling of the list's diversity is that each one of our top five schools came from a different area of the country.

Our list does include half of the Ivy League schools and three of the five Claremont Colleges, including our top ranked school — Claremont McKenna College. Although Claremont McKenna didn't rank as #1 or #2 in any category, it placed high in several, including Best Quality of Life, Best Career Services, and Great Financial Aid.

#20 Stanford University

Stanford, California

Stanford may be known to some as "The Farm," but its 8,000+ acre campus — planned by Fredrick Law Olmstead — more closely recalls California's distinct Mission Revival architecture. 

The university was also recognized by the Princeton Review for its libraries, which host collections from the Hoover Institution and R. Buckminster Fuller.

Source: The Princeton Review. To learn more about our methodology, click here.



#19 Pomona College

Claremont, California

Pomona's 140-acre campus also recalls the Mission Revival Style that designates much California architecture.

The Claremont Colleges member got recognition for its dorms, the largest of which has a sundeck for students to take advantage of their SoCal surroundings.

Source: The Princeton Review. To learn more about our methodology, click here.



#18 Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State is the number one employer in its hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, which may explain its number two spot on the Town-Gown Relations are Great list.

The city also hosts an area known as "Aggieville," which is filled with college bars and stores.

Source: The Princeton Review. To learn more about our methodology, click here.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


Here's The Real Way New York Is Like Detroit

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Last night on MSNBC, Ezra Klein and I debated whether New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was out of line when he suggested New York risked a Detroit-like decline if his successor implemented the wrong policies.

I actually think Bloomberg was onto something. Here's the video:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ordinarily, I think these kinds of comparisons are off-base. But New York is, in one very important way, like Detroit: Its economy is dominated by one industry, and it doesn't have a good repositioning plan in place for when that industry falters.

New York has the highest taxes in the U.S., providing very generous pension and health care benefits to public workers that now consume 1/5 of the city's budget, with a vast social services apparatus that in most other places would be left to the state government to manage.

And that all works because Wall Street is a money machine. Bankers make way more money here than they could make if they moved their businesses elsewhere, and they love living here, so they will put up with high taxes, high rents, and all the other aspects of New York that make life here expensive.

And they really do pay the city's bills. In 2008, 44% of wages earned in New York City went to people working in the finance and insurance sector; even in the depth of the financial crisis, that share only declined to 37%. Those figures actually understate finance's importance to the city's tax base — after all, who's hiring high-paid lawyers and going out to fancy restaurants and buying apartments in luxury towers that construction workers build? Bankers.

In fact, these huge salaries and profits are what saved New York from its last great fiscal crisis, which we experienced when, like in Detroit, our economic and population base shrank to a point where they could no longer support the city's financial commitments.

New York was once America's greatest manufacturing hub. All the charming old buildings that hipsters are colonizing in western Brooklyn (and, 25 years ago, in SoHo) used to be industrial. New York City made heady financial commitments on the back of that industrial base, including some agreements with public employee unions that would later prove to be very unwise.

And as that industrial economic base and the city's population declined, New York City found itself unable to meet its financial commitments. In the 1960s, the city started depending on short-term borrowing to make its books balance. Eventually, the bond markets decided that the city was in over its head, and bankruptcy became a real risk. In 1975, it took a rescue from the government of New York State to save the city from insolvency.

While fiscal rectitude played a key role in righting the city's finances in the 1980s, the really important story was the very good fortunes in its largest economic sector. Finance doubled as a share of the U.S. economy over the last 30 years, and many of the big banker salaries and big bank profits that came along with that are taxed in New York City. Another money spigot started up under New York City at the exact time we needed it.

Of course, automaking was once a money spigot for Detroit, too. The question for New York is, what happens if banking declines?

There's good reason to think that's a risk over the long term. The financialization of the U.S. economy has produced great things for New York, but it's not clear the country as a whole is benefiting. The vast expansion of finance does not appear to have boosted innovation or GDP growth. New York should be worried about public policies that would aim to reduce finance to the role it played in the economy before 1980.

That's why Bloomberg's message this week about what the next mayor must do to prevent risk of a fiscal crisis had two prongs. One was getting pension and health care commitments to public employees under control, in case the city's tax base can no longer support the current largesse. The other was diversifying New York's economy, so that the city is less dependent on the financial sector.

Bloomberg has taken some steps in this direction, including drawing a new science and technology-focused university campus to Roosevelt Island. He's also pushing, as his last major initiative, an upzoning of the area of Midtown right around Grand Central Station that would allow even more skyscrapers in an already-dense area of Manhattan. Adding more supply would help non-financial firms compete with the banks that bid up prime Manhattan office rents.

If the financial sector starts to shrink, New York's cost problem will partly fix itself, as office and residential rents will decline. But the related decline in real estate values would be hugely disruptive to the economy even as it lowers the cost of doing business. And other legacy costs in New York, like servicing the pensions on which the city spends 17 times as much as it did 13 years ago, won't decline unless policymakers actively choose to push costs down.

Detroit's problem was that it didn't have a plan for life after automaking, and didn't have a strategy for making the city attractive to firms that might come into replace lost manufacturing jobs. New York needs a strategy for life after banking, and part of that strategy has to involve being less outlandishly expensive. That's the reason it was reasonable for Bloomberg to invoke Detroit, even though municipal insolvency isn't on the horizon.

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TripAdvisor Has Got To Be Kidding With This Pizza Ranking

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Deep dish pizza from chicago

TripAdvisor just came out with a list of America's top 10 cities for pizza, and New York City was ranked a lowly number four.

Somehow beating out NYC — which is famous for its slices— were San Diego, Las Vegas, and Boston.

Chicago, another city with die-hard pizza fans, didn't even make the top 10.

Even worse, the glowing praise of number one seed San Diego's pizza was ironically that it was "just as good as being home in New York."

Second place Las Vegas pizzas were declared "Brooklyn pizza in the desert" by one TripAdvisor reviewer, whose opinion was featured on the travel site's ranking as well.

The results were compiled based on reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travelers for all restaurants that serve pizza in the U.S.

Check out the (dubious) full ranking below:

  1. San Diego, California

  2. Las Vegas, Nevada

  3. Boston, Massachusetts

  4. New York, New York

  5. Seattle, Washington

  6. Austin, Texas

  7. San Francisco, California

  8. Indianapolis, Indiana

  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  10. Phoenix, Arizona

SEE ALSO: 10 American Pizza Joints Worth A Road Trip

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Walmart Is Sneakily Plotting To Dominate The Beer Market

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Beers

Wal-Mart is quietly becoming a popular destination for buying beer, according to Renee Dudley at Bloomberg, who writes that the company aims to double sales by 2016. 

The company is well on the way to success, Cameron Smith, who owns an executive search firm that works with Wal-Mart's suppliers, told Dudley. 

“They’re getting there quick," Smith told Bloomberg. "Everyone in the supplier community is on cloud nine, riding high and adding to their staff.”

The company is driving sales with discounts on more than 50 brands. 

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10 Bizarre (And Weirdly Expensive) 'One Of A Kind' Items On Etsy

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Squirrel Wedding Cake Toppers

If you're in the market for vintage sports paraphernalia, vegan jewelry, or flower headbands, Etsy is the place to go. The site has a reputation for attracting talented amateur artists with unique wares to sell, and is perfect for anyone looking for one-of-a-kind or handmade items.

But some of those one-of-a-kind items toe the line between unique and creepy, and some are insanely overpriced.

From $14,000 magic wands to eerily-lifelike squirrel wedding cake toppers, we rounded up the weirdest and wildest that Etsy sellers have to offer.

A photo that "proves" Nicolas Cage is a vampire

Price: $250,000

"Nicolas Cage is a Vampire:

Original c.1870 carte de visite showing a man who looks exactly like Nick Cage. Personally, I believe it's him and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire, et cetera, who quickens/reinvents himself once every 75 years or so. 150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk show host. Guaranteed to be an original 1860s-70s photograph and not a modern reproduction, copy or photo manipulation."

See it on Etsy here.



A ridiculously expensive teapot

Price: $250,000

"Multiple ash, orange tea glaze and crystal matt with celadon liner on porcelain teapot tea pot 6.75" x 7.25" "

See it on Etsy here.



A genuine sorcerer's stone

Price: $200,000

"The Thelema Stone:

A genuine stone dating from 19th century used by the infamous Aleister Crowley. The stone is very rare and very dangerous to use! Used right, great and terrible things can be achieved. Sir Aleister Crowley used the stone for Scrying. Scrying has been used in many cultures in the belief that it can divine the past, present, or future and summon Spiritual creatures for personal purposes. A genuine chanting phrase and details how to set up will be included."

See it on Etsy here.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
    


9 Moves That Will Put Your Real Estate Bid Over The Edge

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woman bidding at an auction

In today's housing market, running into competition is par for the course – and the weakest bids won't survive. 

Luckily for less well-heeled house hunters, there's more that goes into winning a bidding war than throwing money at your opponents until they buckle. 

"If you are serious about buying, it becomes a bit of a part time job," says Zillow.com real estate expert Brendon DeSimone. "This is your home and your only investment." 

We asked DeSimone to clue consumers into how they can make their bids stand out.

1. Don't wait for the open house. DeSimone is quick to advise clients to see as many houses as possible on weekends––whether or not they're invited. "With the Internet, information moves so quickly. [Sellers] could do a private showing Wednesday [days before a scheduled open house]" he says. "If it looks good online, go see it."

2. Don't be intimidated by higher bidders.  Investors and average joes alike are flocking to snatch up deals on homes. Don't let them psych you out, DeSimone says.  "Don’t spend too much energy trying to figure out what’s really going on with the other offers. If you love the property, keep moving forward, but at your own pace. Make the offer you’re comfortable with, and only when you’re comfortable making it."

3. Pick a broker who's local and well-known. That's because 80 percent of business is done by just 20 percent of brokers. The more respected they are within the community, the better shot they have at wooing listing agents. "My clients (win) because the listing agent knows me," DeSimone says. "In a competitive situation, working with a known broker will make the listing agent feel better and boost your chances, especially if two offers are close."

4. Get in the listing agent's good graces. Why? Because the listing agent is the only person who meets all the parties involved in a sale. "Though the seller ultimately decides and signs a contract, the listing agent has a giant say in who gets the property in a competitive situation," DeSimone says. "If you make a good impression with the listing agent, you are in much better shape. Acting like a jerk to the agent tells the sellers to work with another offer."

5. Line up an appraisal even before making an offer. "One thing I once did was to have the bank try to get an appraiser lined up and on their calendar before an offer was made," DeSimone says. "That way, the buyer could tell the seller that the appraisal would happen within x days of signing a contract. If you tell the seller two or three weeks, your offer looks weaker." 

6. Look for the ugliest house on a great block. It may sound counterintuitive, but you're better off looking at a fixer-upper than going for the McMansion next door. Chances are competition won't be as fierce.  "You can always improve the property and therefore increase its value," says DeSimone. "And because it’s on a great block, improvements you make to the home will be practically guaranteed to give you a top return on your investment."

7. Know your neighbors – and what their homes are worth. Getting to know the neighborhood you're hoping to call home one day goes far beyond scoping out local schools and seeing who prowls the streets at night. "When you are ready to seriously write offers and compete, you should know what is going on with the local neighborhood market," DeSimone says. "Follow what has recently sold, what was competitive and what was not."

8. Hire an inspector within two days of submitting your offer. "Order the inspection before you write the offer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be two days but your offer should show the seller that you are prepared to move quickly," DeSimone says. "If you wait two weeks and then the inspector finds something and you walk away, the seller is left out to dry.  The seller wants to know this is out of the way quickly."

9. Sweeten your bid with cash. More often than not, most homebuyers simply can't afford to plop down $180,000 in cash on a new home. But when it comes to sweetening your bid, offering to pay at least the deposit in cash could push you over the edge. "The more you offer, the better," DeSimone says.

SEE ALSO: This MBA student is learning to flip a house the hard way

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The 'Sushirrito' Is Real, And You Can Eat One If You Live In San Francisco

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sushirrito dragon roll

While recently perusing a recent Reddit AMA for a female sushi chef, we stumbled on a picture of a sushirrito.

This sushi roll of epic proportions captivated our New York Office: It was hard to conceive that the creation  the size of a burrito and eaten with your hands — was real. It sounded too good to be true.

And yet, there's an entire company called Sushirrito that sells them at three locations in San Francisco, and has been in business for the past two years.

The Asian-Latin fusion restaurants make some amazing varieties of sushirrito: There are seven different kinds, including the Geisha's Kiss with yellowfin tuna, Sumo Crunch with Surimi crab, and Mayan Dragon with Japanese-style fried chicken.

This sushi-burrito combo would not be out of place next to similar food mash-ups like Dominique Ansel's cronut and the recent Ramen Burger.

Here's hoping the company expands to NYC soon.

If you've tried a sushirrito, drop us a line at thelife@businessinsider.com. We'd love to see your pictures and hear what you thought.

SEE ALSO: 10 Fast Food Items That Combine Lunch And Dessert

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We Can Blame Hipsters For The Decline In Men's Razor Sales

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hipster beard sunglasses

The rise of beards and stubble is the reason why — for the first time ever — men's shaving will no longer be the largest men's grooming category.

Nicole Tyrimou, a Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Euromonitor International, recently wrote an in-depth piece titled "Civil War in Men's Shaving" on why the segment has lost its dominance.

By 2013, men's toiletries will be earning the same amount as men's shaving products, which Tyrimou attributes to the decline in razors and blades in men's shaving sales.

For instance, Procter & Gamble, which owns both Gillette and Schick, has taken a recent hit with unit sales of Schick razors dropping 10%.

She attributes that decline to the current popularity of stubble, the growing acceptance of beards in the work place, and the fact that shaving and razors continue to grow more expensive each year.

In short, shaving less frequently and more cheaply has become the norm in Western Europe and America.

Thanks a lot, hipsters.

Ultimately though, Tyrimou thinks the men's shaving industry will bounce back. Now that the current trend is stubble and/or beards, she foresees a growth in manual and battery-operated trimmers, beard and mustache dyes, styling gels, and products to "nourish and smooth facial hair."

Here's hoping we'll get some great ads out of it.

SEE ALSO: 11 Hot Products From Amazon's Brand New Male Grooming Department

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Detroit May Have To Sell These 11 Masterpieces To Ease Its Debt Problem

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Van Gogh Self Portrait with Straw Hat

>Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is trying to come up with ways to plug the city's estimated $18.5 billion debt problem.

So this week, he announced he had engaged Christie's to appraise the city's art collection. 

The move has generated controversy — both from those who say the collection should remain untouchable, and from camps who believe the city should never have owned the works in the first place.

Unusual among major cities, Detroit owns the entire collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Detroit Free Press reached out to art dealers in May to provide a rough estimate of the collection's overall value. The group came up with a final tally of at least $2.5 billion. 

We wanted to dig into the collection to get a better sense of what the city could end up losing.

"Visitation" by Rembrandt (1640). Produced in Rembrandt's prime, this painting is actually quite small, which makes its detail even more stunning.



"Mary And Child With Angels" by Fra Angelico (~1425). Fra Angelico helped kick off the Renaissance with enigmatic depictions of classic religious subjects.



"Self-Portrait" by Vincent Van Gogh (1887). Van Gogh painted this self-portrait just a few years before he committed suicide — and you can tell.



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It's Ridiculously Hard To Find An NYC Apartment Under $3 Million

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new york luxury apartmentYou would think a $1 million would buy you a decent apartment in a nice neighborhood of New York City.

Maybe last year, but not anymore.

New York City is experiencing a shortage of nonluxury apartments, or units priced under $3 million, according to Businessweek. These nonluxury spaces have previously accounted for 90% of housing inventory in the city, but have plummeted by more than one-third in the last three quarters.

In contrast, the inventory of luxury apartments (the top 10% of the market) fell only 3.9%.

For the bulk of the market, the 90 percent, it’s probably the most challenging period for a buyer in the 25-plus years that I’ve been observing the market,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a residential real estate appraiser, told Businessweek.

Nonluxury apartments are mostly sought after by first-time buyers. And in this market they may have to throw their tight budgets out the window.

The average price of a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment is $1.35 million, and adding another bedroom brings that price up to $2.63 million.

That is a 7.8% price increase from last year .

And just think what that could buy you in the rest of America. The national average for a single family home is $214,200.

Prices are being driven up as a result of a shrinking inventory and developers focusing on ultra-luxury buildings. And current owners are holding on to their properties, waiting for the market to full recover.

But, if you're in the market for a luxury space you're in luck. Prices of luxury apartments are down 8.9% to $5.25 million year over year.

Seems like a few extra million is the only difference between the lap of luxury and a standard two-bedroom.

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Look At This Surprisingly Racy Item You Can Buy At Sears

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Sears is known for appliances and construction tools, not sex appeal. 

But we recently stumbled across a surprisingly racy item on the Sears website. 

The retailer appears to be selling a"men's 4-piece adjustable harness" online. For $55.99 you get a leather harness, arm bands, and a collar. 

Check out a screen grab of the web page

sears men's harness

A search of the Beston shoes products at Sears include racy high heels and women's lingerie. 

This isn't Sears' first time pushing the envelope. 

The company stirred controversy last year when it accidentally posted a NSFW listing for lingerie. 

At the time, Sears blamed the slip on a third-party seller. 

Thanks to @johnvoelcker for pointing us towards this listing.

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Wall Streeters Are Wearing Some Really Funky Socks On Fridays

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Friday Socks

There's a hot new fashion trend on Wall Street— bankers, hedge funders and private equity guys are rocking some really funky socks with their suits. 

But it's only on Fridays. 

It's a movement called "Friday Socks" and it was started by Joshua Weiner, a 25 year-old who works at a real estate investment firm. Weiner previously worked in private equity and investment banking.

"Socks are the most overlooked part of a person's wardrobe," Weiner told Business Insider, adding, "After a long 60 hour four day work week, it's nice to wake up in the morning and think about the next day off by putting on Friday Socks that suit up your mood." 

Wall Streeters are using the Friday Socks movement to spice up their conservative suited up attire, Weiner explained.

"It also helps to show your personality in an easily concealable or revealable fashion statement — instead of the standard black sock, blue shirt, white shirt, red tie fashion.  It's a way to have fun with your dress in a conservative environment." 

Even though some banks have an uber strict dress code, Weiner says it's still worth a shot participating in the trend. 

Friday Socks"I have seen at least two work cultures shift at the hands of Friday Socks," he told us.  "Some of my past bosses and colleagues have participated and I have heard stories of other bosses doing the same around the hedge fund/ banking/private equity world."

It Started In High School 

Weiner told us that "Friday Socks" started as a fun thing he did when he had to wear suits in high school. 

"Back then, the socks were just a plain, outrageously bright, non-matching color — primarily to express my personality."  

Weiner, who grew up in Rye Brooke, New York, said he's always made "outside of the box" fashion statements. 

For example, he told us that for his senior prom, he wore a white tuxedo with a baby pink vest, baby pink bow-tie and bright pink "Friday Socks."  

"As I started to wear suits more often they started morphing into much more fun designs, only on Fridays, meant to help me get through the last work day before the weekend, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way."  

Friday Socks

Turning It Into A Business

Weiner has been designing his own "Friday Socks," which he intends to sell.  

"My background in real estate lends to geometric designs, but also some funky curvy designs. I incorporate bright colors to bring out the fun in my personality that is not necessarily exemplified at work or with conservative business dress," he said.

Weiner also recently launched a website that's currently under development called FridaySocks.com.  

The website is "to share the social movement, by sharing designs, photos, stories, and to purchase the latest in 'Friday Socks fashion,'" Weiner explained. 

As part of his business plan, Weiner said he wants to use a portion of the proceeds to start a scholarship fund to promote college education. 

"With a college education, young guys have a chance to get those sought after corporate jobs where they can wear Friday Socks to celebrate their weekends."  

The website should be ready to launch within the next couple of months, he said.  Weiner's sock designs are already in production and should be available after the site is officially open. 

Friday Socks'A Work Hard, Play Hard Social Movement' 

This trend has also turned into a movement in the social media sphere, especially on Instagram with those participating using the hashtag #FridaySocks.  

"I shared my pictures of my socks with a bunch of friends, calling them 'Friday Socks,' which began the "movement." 

Weiner added that almost all of his friends in corporate jobs wear Friday Socks.  

"The word has been spreading.  Friday Socks is a work hard, play hard social movement."

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Judge Sides With Artist Who Photographed New Yorkers Through Their Windows

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arne svenson

A Manhattan judge has backed the right of artist Arne Svenson to photograph his neighbors through their windows, according to The New York Post.

Last May, New Yorkers were outraged when Svenson's images of people taken through their apartment windows were put on display in a Manhattan gallery.

Called "The Neighbors," the photographs captured the people in the building across the street from Svenson's Greenwich apartment going about their daily lives and doing mundane activities like eating breakfast and cleaning. No one was recognizable in the images.

Svenson's large prints were put up for sale at Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea, starting at $7,500.

But residents of the glass-walled luxury residential building that Svenson had photographed never consented to being subjects for his works of art.

Needless to say, they were livid, especially two parents who realized their children had been photographed. The couple, Matthew and Martha Foster, sued Svenson and asked a Manhattan judge to bar him from showing or selling the images.

But on Monday, Judge Eileen Rakower ruled in Svenson's favor and dismissed the case, according to The Post.

“The value of artistic expression outweighs any sale that stems from the published photos,” Rakower wrote in her decision.

The judge also said that the end of the gallery exhibition and Svenson's promise to delete images of the photographs online were also factors in her ruling.

But sources told The Post that photos from the exhibit sold "briskly," and that Harvard Business School now owns a shot of a woman in a green dress cleaning her floor.

SEE ALSO: The 20 Most Visited Museums In The World

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Oprah Said A Racist Shop Worker Told Her She Couldn't Afford A Luxury Handbag

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oprah winfreyA Swiss boutique has apologized to Oprah Winfrey after a worker refused to let her see an expensive handbag. 

When Winfrey was in Zurich for Tina Turner's wedding last month, she saw a $35,000 Tom Ford handbag and asked a worker to take it out of the case, she told Entertainment Tonight. 

But the worker at the at the Trois Pommes boutique told Winfrey that she should look at less expensive bags. 

Winfrey says the woman didn't recognize who she was and attributed the incident to racism. 

"'I left the store but it proves that racism is still an issue," Winfrey said in her interview

Winfrey is one of the richest people in the world, with an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion. 

The boutique's owner apologized for the incident via Swiss newspaper Blick and called it a "misunderstanding" caused by the fact that her worker didn't speak good English. 

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Emma Roberts Tried And Failed To Cut The Massive Cronut Line

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Half croissant, half donut, cronuts are fully the rage in New York City.

With lines down the block, this Dominique Ansel bakery sweet treat is a hot commodity — even for VIP celebrities like Emma Roberts.

The 22-year-old actress went to the Soho bakery Thursday and tried to cut the line, only to be turned away by a security doorman (yes, doorman).

You can check out pics of Roberts being turned away, but she later recounted the story while appearing on "Late Night" with Jimmy Fallon, pleading innocence.

"Today I went to the bakery to get a cronut and I was like 'oh my god, there's no line' and I walk in and they're like 'Um, the line is actually down the block,'" Roberts told the late night host. "So I walked out and went to the end of the line and waited and waited and then they were like 'Sorry, there are no more cronuts. They were out of cronuts!"

Luckily, Fallon just so happened to have a cronut on hand to surprise his guest. Watch below:

Apparently Roberts isn't the only celebrity cronut fan.

Heidi Klum, too, posted a photo this week saying, "Flying back home with a box of for my loved ones." It's good to be a cronut!

Heidi Klum cronut

SEE ALSO: Here's How Early You Have To Get In Line To Secure A 'Cronut' In NYC

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