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Bombshell Report Reveals That Wen Jiabao's Wife Is 'Queen' Of China's Diamond Industry


diamond, diamonds, gems

The big New York Times article on outgoing Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's family finances is a bombshell, which has already gotten the publication blocked in China.

Journalist David Barboza was able to find $2.7 billion in assets in the family

One fascinating nugget in the article is about Zhang Beili, Wen's wife.

Zhang is well-known amongst elite circles in China for her wealth, a result of her own business dealings in the diamond trade. Barboza says that she is now known as China's "diamond queen".

Zhang worked as a regulator for China's Ministry of Geology, helping to set the standards for the nascent industry. As her husband worked his way through the ranks, she began to blur the line between regulator and businesswomen. She used state money to help set up Beijing Diamond, a big jewelry retailer, and later set up Sino-Diamond, a venture financed by the state-owned China Mineral and Gem Corporation (of which she was the boss).

She later used the profits from the diamond industry to move into other ventures, always being careful to remain in the background of business dealings.

Barboza states that he didn't find any instances of Wen explicitly using his power to help his wife — but people bent over backwards to help her anyway, without his interjections.

“Her business activities are known to everyone in the leadership,” one banker told Barboza, and added it was not unusual for her to directly call people in the business world. “And if you get that call, how can you say no?”

Wen wasn't unaware of this. According to a WikiLeaks release of one US State Department cable, Wen was "disgusted by his family's activities. Wen's wife and children all have a reputation as people who can 'get things done' at the right price." The Chinese premier was considering a divorce, according to the cable.

SEE ALSO: Here's How Bo Xilai And Other Chinese 'Princelings' Got Their Outrageous Fortunes >

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6 Gorgeous Private Island Retreats


Conch Key CottagesThis post originally appeared at Oyster.com.

Owning a private island is overrated and it’s actually a lot of work — or so we’ve heard from our many island-owning friends. You have to deal with the astronomical taxes, the development, the upkeep — it’s a full-time job (that island owners simply pay other people to do, of course).

But visiting a private island? It’s as great as everyone says — and we know from experience. We’ve stayed on some gorgeous private islands in our travels, in equally gorgeous hotels and resorts. Here are six of our favorites.

Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic

The details: The D.R.’s only luxury resort set on its own island, the Gran Bahia Cayo Levantado offers a relaxing atmosphere for couples and families. There are scenic beaches and beautiful pools, and we love the details in the rooms: Four-poster beds, private Jacuzzi tubs, and island-inspired artwork give them a romantic vibe.

How to get there: From the Samana airport, it’s a 45-minute cab ride to the Bahia ferry station. From there, it’s a 10- to 15-minute ferry ride to Cayo Levantado. In lieu of the ferry, you can also hire a private panga boat to take you from Samana. We never said getting to a private island is easy, but it’s certainly worth the flight (…and drive and boat ride)!

Paradise Point Resort and Spa, San Diego

The details: This 462-room property near Sea World has sprawling grounds, activities – such as tennis, a putting green, water sports, and basketball — galore, five pools, a spa, and bonfire pits for roasting s’mores after dark. But perhaps the highlight of Paradise Point Resort and Spa is that it sits on a tranquil, mile-long beach.

How to get there: In Mission Bay, Paradise Point is connected to the mainland by Ingraham Street so reaching the resort is easy enough, and takes just about a 15-minute car ride from downtown San Diego.

Fowl Cay Resort, Bahamas

The details: Crowded beaches are unheard of at this resort where a maximum of 28 guests at a time have free range of 50 acres and three beaches. Personal boats for daily excursions, on-call service, spacious villas with fully stocked kitchens and wet bars, and a host of all-inclusive activities make Fowl Cay Resort a standout gem in the Exumas.

How to get there: The Exumas Islands (where the resort is located) are accessible by small charter plane via Fort Lauderdale or Nassau. Boat transfers to and from the airstrip are included in resort rates and take less than 10 minutes.

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There's A Repo Man Who Only Confiscates Former Rich People's Toys


yacht week el jefe charter buy

Heavyweight freelance reporter Matthew Teague reports for Bloomberg BusinessWeek this week on a business charged with taking back luxury goods from formerly high-net-worth people in bankruptcy. 

Teague calls the business's management "the world's most sophisticated repo men."

On behalf of banks [Owner Ken] Cage nabs high-dollar toys from self-styled magnates who find themselves overleveraged. Many of the deadbeat owners made a killing in finance and real estate during the economic bubble—expanding it, even—and were caught out of position when it burst. So now men like Cage steal $20 million jets like they were jalopies. And fast boats. Even, on one occasion, a racehorse.

Cage comes by his trade honestly, having worked in a repo division of Chrysler for part of the last decade, only to quit after going after too many genuinely hard-up people.

So he decided to found his own company that would exclusively go after ex-one-percenters.

“The guys would go out to repo a car and call me up,” Cage says. “They’d say, ‘This minivan has a baby seat in the back. What do you want us to do?’ I felt this conflict all the time.”

The game seems pretty intense — Cage and his crew frequently must track down "toys" that have often times have been stashed away in remote locations. 

Click here to read the full story on Bloomberg Businessweek >

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A Must-See For Serious Whiskey Drinkers




Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel
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The Newest Thing In Pet Pampering: The Luxury Cat Hotel



Would you ever book a hotel room for your fluffy little friend?

That's the question UK cat owners in Haywards Heath, England, may soon be asking themselves as plans for a new cat hotel have just been submitted for approval, according to a report in the Mid Sussex Times.

Dubbed the Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel, this English feline hotel--which already has two other locations in Welwyn Garden City and St. Albans--would feature seven bespoke cat suites. Each suite would boast wrought iron designer beds, luxe pillows and a gourmet "A La Cat" menu serving up fresh cod steak, steamed salmon and king prawns, just to name a few.

The existing Longcroft hotels have six different themed suites with scratching posts, personal gardens and kitty climbing equipment in each room. Owners can also splurge for personal grooming sessions, a photo shoot package or sign up to receive electronic postcards from their cat.

The idea for the so-called "cattery" came when founder and owner Abi Purser was unable to find a suitable place to keep her cat Norman while she was on a cruise in 2010.

"We hope it won't be long before we can bring our award-winning hotel to cat owners in the Haywards Heath Area," Purser told the Mid Sussex Times.

The suites range in price from $25 for a single cat staying in a large suite to $96 for five felines sharing a super-sized suite. Only cats from the same family are allowed to stay in the same room.

If the plans are approved, the hotel could possibly open by early 2013.

Don't Miss: Karl Lagerfeld Gave An Entire Interview About His Spoiled Siamese Cat, Choupette

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These Are The World's Best Airport Hotels



Tim Sargent once spent a week in Dallas, and never left the airport.

Instead, he was checked in at the Grand Hyatt DFW, a plush airport hotel just outside Terminal D. “I’ve been there at least 20 times for meetings,” says the San Diego–based biotech executive.

See The World's Best Airport Hotels >

“Dallas is a huge hub, and it’s central, so it’s convenient for colleagues around the country. Staying at the airport, you don’t have to pay for a lot of cab fares.  And the hotel is actually really cool.”

Airport hotels have come a long way since their first mainstream incarnations, as bare-bones motels meant for bleary-eyed layovers. An increasing number of airport hotels now have spas, rooftop pools and fine dining that goes far beyond the toast-your-own-waffle breakfast spread. 

One big reason? Business travelers like Sargent. “Airport hotels are finally stepping up to the level of services and amenities we’ve been seeing in downtown business hotels for quite a while,” says Jan Freitag, senior vice president with hotel research firm STR.

The best airport hotels make it tempting to stay past the business meetings and into the weekend. At the Radisson SAS at Oslo’s Gardermoen, for example, travelers can play virtual golf on one of 32 courses around the world. The Four Points Sheraton outside LAX invites guests to join its Beer Club and have a craft beer left bedside for turndown service. The Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong even boasts its own luxe wedding facilities. 

Want your next airport stay to be more than a fly-by? Check out our list of the world’s best airport hotels.


Radisson Blu Hotel London-Stansted Airport

The main restaurant at this Vegas-worthy hotel—connected to the main terminal by a covered walkway—features entertainment that evokes Cirque du Soleil. Occupying a 43-foot-high structure that lights up at night and holds 4,000 bottles of wine, Angels Wine Tower Bar has acrobats (or “wine angels”) who fly up and down on wires to get your bottle from on high. Feeling athletically inspired? Hit the hotel’s gym, which offers yoga and spin classes, and even swim lessons for kids. (radissonblu.co.uk; doubles from $106.)

CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam Schiphol

Wandering into the lobby of this mod-style boutique hotel (set just outside the car rental exit of the airport) is a little like browsing in a sleek design shop; the series of living rooms, all outfitted with streamlined modern Vitra furniture, are stocked with Macs for complimentary use (and free Wi-Fi). Guestrooms are equally aesthetically pleasing: You can store your open suitcase in a special drawer underneath your XL bed, enjoy a rain shower in your bath or control your room’s colored ambient lighting with a “mood pad.” (citizenm.com; doubles from $139.)

Sheraton Düsseldorf Airport Hotel

Talk about a penthouse suite. This one-story, oval-shaped hotel is located entirely on top of the airport’s Car Park 3 and is surrounded by a landscaped roof garden with tables and chairs, summer food service and turtle ponds, as well as sweeping city views. There’s a 24-hour fitness center, free computer stations and Wi-Fi, eco-friendly rooms in warm earth tones and a Bavarian tavern with its own beer garden. (starwoodhotels.com; day rates from $106, overnight from $197.)

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A Secret Camera In Williamsburg Is Judging What You're Wearing



You better show off your best cat-walk on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, just off the L train, because people are watching you.

Fashion blog Stylerblaster has put a motion sensor activated camera on a Bedford Avenue building to snap photos of passersby in the hipster neighborhood. Photos then instantly appear on the blog, where readers can rate each outfit. A top hat symbolizes if a person is "stylin" or not.

Site creator Jules Laplace told Gothamist what's in style: 

We're big fans of New Aesthetic fashion over here—all-over prints, pixel-perfect haircuts, and satellite recon gingham. For hipsters—Croakies are back in style, and this year's Loew's fall fashion line is to die for. And for the rest of us who can't afford Opening Ceremony—put your cellphone away, be poised, and stride confidently. You never know who you're going to meet/tweet!

At 9:49, this fashion-forward woman earned 16 hats for her outfit.

Source: Styleblaster

This man needs a fashion intervention. He only received two hats at 9:50 this morning.

Source: Styleblaster

At 9:51 a.m. this man impressed Styleblaster readers and earned 29 hats.

Source: Styleblaster

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TaylorMade RocketBladez Irons With Speed Pocket


These are the new RocketBladez Irons from TaylorMade.

Why We Love It: These golf irons are built with a "speed pocket," a two millimeter-wide slot in the sole of the 3-through-7 irons that is filled with 3M polyurethane that flexes and rebounds at impact. The speed pocket is said to promote faster ball speed and ball flight.

The design was inspired by research that showed 68 percent of amateurs hit below the center of the face. The RocketBladez lower the clubs' center of gravity, making it easier to launch the golf ball into the air at a higher angle.

Professionals also saw a consistent increase in their distance thanks to the speed pocket, leading some to think the RocketBladez Tour Irons could be the most-played iron on tour next season, according to Golf Digest.

RocketBladez Iron Golf

Where To Buy: You can currently pre-order your clubs now at TaylorMade's website. Irons will hit retail on November 30, with the Tour Irons available on February 1.

Cost: $799.99 for steel shafts, $899.99 for graphite shafts.

Want to nominate a cool product for Stuff We Love? Send an email to Megan Willett at mwillett@businessinsider.com with "Stuff We Love" in the subject line.

See Also: The Office Chair Strengthener

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In America's Most Expensive Zip Code, These Are The Most Expensive Homes For Sale


$27.75 million e 64th street townhouse

Forbes named the 10065 as the most expensive zip code in the country, with a home's median asking price at $6.53 million.

But these homes for sale in the Upper East Side zip code blow that figure out of the water.

Of the top 10 most expensive currently for sale in the 10065, they all are listed at more than $23 million.

A condo on Fifth Avenue is on sale for $23 million.

Click here to see more photos of the home >

The home has five bedrooms and five bathrooms, spanning 4,000 square feet.

Click here to see more photos of the home >

A second floor apartment inside 640 Park Avenue is on sale for $23.5 million.

Click here to see more photos of the home >

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The Top 10 Cities Of 2013 According To Lonely Planet


Golden Gate Bridge

Lonely Planet travel guides recently released its list of the Top 10 Cities for 2013, and San Francisco nabbed the top spot.

The California city was followed by Amsterdam, Hyderabad in India, and Derry in Northern Ireland.

Also rounding out the list of top 10 cities was Beijing, Christchurch in New Zealand, Hobart in Australia, Montreal in Canada, Addis Abada in Ethiopia, and Puerto Iguazú in Argentina.

Lonely Planet's team of expert authors and editors decided on the cities based on several factors, such as which cities would have special attractions in store for 2013 or had newly-listed world wonders.

For example, Puerto Iguazú has the waterfall Foz de Iguazú, which was recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. New Zealand's Christchurch city is recovering after two earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 with vibrant music, food, and art communities. And San Francisco, the top city, will host the 34th America's Cup coming in 2013.

Here's the full list of Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities for 2013:

  1. San Francisco, USA
  2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. Hyderabad, India
  4. Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  5. Beijing, China
  6. Christchurch, New Zealand
  7. Hobart, Australia
  8. Montreal, Canada
  9. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  10. Puerto Iguazú, Argentina

See Also: The 23 Least Sexist Countries In The World

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'Spaceship' Home Is Almost Ready For Naomi Campbell And Her Billionaire Boyfriend


capital hill residence naomi campbell spaceship house

A spaceship-looking building on a Moscow hilltop is nearing completion after nearly six years.

The Capital Hill Residence designed by Zaha Hadid spans 28,500 square feet of "fluid geometries," with the master bedroom atop a 65-foot tower accessed by elevator.

The trophy home is owned by billionaire Vladislav Doronin—aka Moscow's Donald Trump—and his super model fiancée Naomi Campbell.

 "It is clear that Doronin wanted to stand out, while the architect cannot resist the proposed fee," architect Gennady Sirota said of the project to Pravda.

Campbell also likes unusual homes, buying an Eco-friendly pad in Turkey and a Gothic abode in Venice.

Construction on this space ship is nearly complete. The project started in 2006.

Source: Zaha Hadid

The house is designed and organized vertically across four levels.

Source: Dezeen

The home is constructed with concrete columns to help stabilize the portion of the house that floats 72 feet above the ground.

Source: Dezeen

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Despite Breakup, Taylor Swift Still Plans To Buy The House Across The Street From The Kennedys

Mary-Kate Olsen Finally Comments On Her Relationship With Nicolas Sarkozy's Brother


mary kate olsen and olivier sarkozy

Mary-Kate Olsen is a former child star and budding fashion designer. 

But lately, she's been making headlines for her relationship with Nicolas Sarkozy's half-brother, Olivier. The press is interested in their age different (he's 42, she's 26), and opulent vacations and apartments. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Olsen commented on the relationship for the first time. 

""Everyone has an opinion," Mary-Kate told the paper. "I find it's better to focus on what's in front of you and to keep putting one foot in front of the other."

Mary-Kate and her twin sister, Ashley, were honored by the WSJ for their contributions to fashion. 

In addition to his famous sibling and girlfriend, Olivier has made a name for himself as a successful banker. 

He and Olsen are rumored to have moved in together in a New York City townhouse. 

DON'T MISS: Tory Burch's Legal Battle With Her Ex Just Got Even Uglier >

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HOUSE OF THE DAY: Buy This $14.5 Million Miami Penthouse With An Insane Infinity Edge Pool


$14.5 million miami penthouse

A beautiful Miami penthouse, inside the Grovenor House, is on sale for $14.5 million.

The home has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and two half baths.

The apartment has amazing views of the water and was previously featured in Architectural Digest.

The apartment spans 9,110 square feet.

The spiral staircase makes a huge statement in the floor plan.

The current owners are asking $1,592 per square foot.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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11 Luxuries We Think The Richest 1 Percent Have—But Don't


rich white people charity

The Occupy Wall Street movement popularized the phrase, “the 1 percent.” But a new survey shows most people don’t really have a clue what that means, beyond “pretty rich, right?” and “That ain’t me.”

According to a survey this month by 463 Communications, a majority of Americans think the threshold for being in the 1 percent is an annual income of $1 million. But according to themost recent IRS figures (2009), it’s about one-third of that.

The IRS says to be in the top 1 percent, you have to earn only $343,927. That means “the 1 percent” covers about 1.4 million American households.

Below are the 11 services named by the 463 survey as perks most likely enjoyed by the 1 percent. While they’re probably right when it comes to the highest earners in this exclusive club, those barely qualifying would probably struggle just as much as the 99 percent to pick up the full tab.

1. Gardeners (78 percent)

There’s no national study we could find that lists gardener fees, although anecdotal evidence seems to indicate you can get a yard service for around $120 a month: easily affordable for anyone in the 1 percent club. But if you’re talking full-time gardener, that’s another matter.

Since the largest portion of “the 1 percent” live in New York, let’s take a look…

According to Salary.com, 9 out of 10 senior groundskeepers in New York City make under $55,000 a year, with a median salary of almost $41,000. And that doesn’t include gardening supplies and health benefits. Nobody making $343,927 annually is likely to dole out that kind of dough.

2. Housekeepers (77 percent)

For ease of comparison, let’s stick with the Big AppleNYMaids.com offers service starting at $94 per three-hour session, probably running more than $30,000 a year for near-daily service. (Holidays and Sundays cost 35 percent more.) So a few hours a week? Definitely affordable for the smallest earners in the 1 percent. Full-time? No way.

3. At least two homes (73 percent)

CNBC’s list of Best Cities to Buy a Vacation Home says the median home price is $340,400 in Los Angeles, $177,700 in West Palm Beach (Florida), and $134,200 in Las Vegas. Filmmaker Michael Moore’s vacation home in Michigan – yes, Michigan – is reportedly worth about $2 million.

So, depending on the house and location, most 1 percenters probably can afford a second home.

4. Annual vacations abroad (67 percent)

Presumably, vacationing in your second home gets boring. So rich people might want to see somewhere new – and sometimes they take a lot of friends.

In 2009, Oprah took over a corner of Barcelona with 1,700 of her closest friends (OK, employees) for three days and had a party that included “concerts and performances by flamenco dancers.” Then they all went on a 10-day cruise to Italy, Turkey, Greece, and Malta – at an estimated cost of $5,400 per person, or about $9.2 million total.

 5. Personal assistant (66 percent)

The median salary for a senior administrative assistant in New York City is about $53,000. But prices vary nationwide. A company called Your Personal Assistants, LLC in Tennessee offers packages from three hours for $71, while My Personal Assistant in Dallas starts at $118 for the same thing. Other fees (like mileage) not included.

And what does a personal assistant do? Everything from making appointments to doing laundry to picking up the kids. And then there’s cooking, cleaning, and event planning. Is it worth it? The Los Angeles Timesasked that same question a few years ago, when a reporter – definitely not a 1 percenter – tried it out.Verdict: not really.

6. Personal chef (59 percent)

At Los Angeles company The Slipper and Rose, ”services fees begin at $250,” but for that, a personal chef will help plan and prepare five meals for four – including doing the shopping, cooking, storage, labeling, and cleanup. Chef Daniel Lagana in Austin, Texas, offers a similar service with a little more flexibility: Prices range from $140 to $280 for one to four people, each getting five meals from “3 entrees with 6 sides, plus soup or salad.”

These two were randomly picked through PersonalChef.com and the United States Personal Chef Association, but if their prices are anything close to the average, you’re looking at somewhere between $12 and $14 per meal – and up to $15,000 to have your weekday meals covered all year.

7. Luxury seats at games and events (63 percent)

Super Bowl tickets this year dropped as low as $1,600, but prices were more than 10 times that for the good seats – up to “$16,480 for a lower-level seat at the 40-yard line along the Giants’ sideline,” according to TicketNews.

Luxury suites can be much pricier – more than some homes. MetLife Stadium, home of the Super Bowl champs, has snazzy suites for up to 30 for prices ranging from $165,000 to $340,000, according to The Sports Business Journal.

Of course, nothing screams luxury like a private show. According to The New York Times, a 45-minute personal concert five years ago from Nelly Furtado cost the late Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi $1 million. (Furtado donated that cool million to charity once the shows became public knowledge last year.)

8. Private jets (60 percent)

If you want to rent one, anecdotal evidence suggests it can cost from $3,000 to $5,000 an hour for a plane capable of seating 10.

Buying? Judge Judy owns a private jet, but then, she makes $45 million a year. Last year, The Wall Street Journal concluded that with prices in the millions, nobody in the lower range of the 1 percent club could possibly afford one. Then there are operating costs: between $500,000 and $1 million a year, because jet fuel is more expensive than what goes in cars.

9. First-class flights (63 percent)

With prices like that, it’s perhaps understandable if the 1 percenters opt to fly commercial. But they can still have some privacy: $15,000 will get them round-trip passage in a private room on board Singapore Air’s A380s, with full-size beds, “three-feet wide armchairs” and “a multimedia center with integrated 23-inch TV.”

10. Low taxes (61 percent)

Actually, even a majority of 1 percenters agree on this one: 68 percent of millionaires support higher taxes on themselves, according to The Wall Street Journal. (It’s not clear how many of the 57 members of Congress in the top 1 percent agree.)

IRS data say that the top 1 percent account for 17 percent of American income, but they pay almost 37 percent of federal taxes. Whether that’s a fair share depends on your politics, but income isn’t the same as wealth, of course – 1 percenters accounted for almost 35 percent of American net worth in 2009, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

11. Easy jobs (68 percent)

Many people in “the 1 percent” have ordinary jobs. The New York Times has a confusing but highly detailed interactive graphic on what jobs the top 1 percent have. A simpler but older academic estimate of the top one percent’s occupations suggests most of them are business managers and executives at non-financial companies (30 percent), doctors and medical professionals (14 percent), lawyers (8 percent), and engineers (4 percent).

See Also: 21 ways rich people think differently > 

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SPOTTED: An Extremely Rare 1952 Ferrari 212 In California

Buy Calvin Klein's Former Glass-Enclosed Manhattan Apartment For $35 Million


The former 55 Central Park West glass abode of Calvin Klein has hit the market for $35 million.

Klein hasn't lived there since the 1990s, but he certainly left his mark on the open, modern apartment, which has a large glassed-in pavilion. Klein installed a hot tub on the roof and tore down all of the interior walls "in an act of minimalism," according to The New York Times.

The home has four bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and one half bath.

The apartment is completely empty and no one is currently residing there. Natural light streams through all of the glass walls and windows, letting the prospective buyers concentrate on the incredible views of Central Park.

The current seller is Steve Gottlieb, a former record executive, who told The Times he had been using the empty apartment as a party zone.

55 central park west


55 central park west


55 central park west


DON'T MISS: A TriBeCa Penthouse With Striking Views Is On Sale For $16.5 Million

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Desperate Trends From Early 20th Century Britain Show What REAL Austerity Looks Like


women, WWII

Those who have lived during wartime or the Great Depression know that desperate times call for desperate measures.

British journalist Hunter Davies uncovered some of the most interesting austerity trends — for example, cooking sheep brains for dinner — in his book Cold Meat and How to Disguise It: A History of Advice on How to Survive Hard Times.

We've compiled some of the top trends here.

Families cooked sheep's brains for dinner to counter food rationing in WWI

Most sensible families were already in the habit of saving food, but the Ministry of Food also encouraged citizens to "experiment with food they had never tried before," namely oft-discarded parts like "nettles, dock leaves, whale meat, or ... sheeps heads or brains," says Davies. 

"Bread, fish, offal and vegetables were not on 'coupons,' as rations were called, and were usually available in season," writes Davies, "but almost every other item of food, such as sugar, tea, butter, margarine, cheese, jam and sweets, were all strictly limited to around 1-8 ounces per person."

Source: Cold Meat And How To Disguise It: A History of Advice on How To Survive Hard Times

People used DIY guides to build their own radios and record players in the 1930s

"Millions of husbands who set up home in the 1930s were being exposed to an avalanche of books, magazines and newspapers instructing, nay, commanding them to Do It Yourself," recalls Davies, whose father came of age during WWII.

The range of items to make was astonishing: One magazine called Hobbies Handbook taught men how to DIY everything from guitars to electric clocks to lamps and gramophones. 

"Many of these were must-have gadgets and adornments of the times, which every household longed to have, but they were still very expensive in the shops and beyond the reach of most ordinary working folks," says the author.

Source: Cold Meat And How To Disguise It: A History of Advice on How To Survive Hard Times

Fearful parents enrolled their kids in "funeral clubs," which acted like life insurance

"There was a sliding scale whereby you could insure against a child dying before the age of five, which cost only a few pennies a week, but all you got back was £3 when they died," explains Davies.

"Or you could insure them up to the age of ten and get more money back, but of course you paid for more. It was an age when all classes had large families—and lost many of them before they grew up." 

Source: Cold Meat And How To Disguise It: A History of Advice on How To Survive Hard Times

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Meet The Wealthy Fundraisers Who Saved Obama's Campaign This Summer


Gwen Stefani

A "bundler" is a special person to a campaign. They're a wealthy person who is friends with many other wealthy people, fundraising for a candidate and convincing people to give to the campaign. 

Bush called them "Rangers" and "Pioneers." Romney has Olympic-inspired "Gold," "Silver" and "Bronze" titles for his bundlers (although he has refused to release their names). Obama just calls his "volunteer fundraisers," and the list includes a wide array of CEOs, financiers, and entertainers.

The latest list of these bundlers was released by the Obama campaign this week and we went through to identify the most rich and famous new donors who became bundlers this summer. 

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright

A supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2008, Albright joined the ranks of Obama bundlers for the first time in the third quarter of 2012 and raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the campaign. 

The first female Secretary of State also hit the campaign trail for Obama this cycle, telling voters at a rally in August that Democrats should blame the Bush administration "forever." 

Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton

Michael Lynton is the CEO of the Sony Corporation of America as well as Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

A 2008 Obama bundler, Lynton knows the benefits of taking on the role — the president appointed Lynton to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2010. 

Lynton joined the 2012 list of bundlers for the first time this summer, raising between $100,000 and $200,000 for President Obama. 

Gwen Stefani

The superstar became an Obama bundler for the first time this summer, joining the elite ranks of fundraisers who have pulled in more than $500,000 for the president's campaign. 

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The 15 Most Bizarrely Unnecessary Sexy Halloween Costumes Of 2012


sexy halloween costume oscar grouch

One of the scariest parts of Halloween is the ability for the costume industry to turn even the most chaste and unobjectionable character or inanimate object into a "sexy" one.

It seems just about anything can get sexy thrown in front of it on Halloween, from a lamp to George Washington to, that's right, a body bag.

Adults, in the United States, will spend an estimated $8 billion on Halloween this year, mostly on themselves rather than their kids. But just because they're spending on average of $80 on costumes — up from $72 last year — that doesn't mean their spending it on more material. 

Mommy's Scooby Doo costume might have significantly less fur than her kid's. Ruh roh.

SEXY BODY BAG: This "Jane Doe DOA Body bag" costume makes us worry about what was on the costume rejection list.

SEXY GEORGE WASHINGTON: What would Martha have to say about this?

SEXY OSCAR THE GROUCH: Yandy.com calls this a trash monster. We call it a trashy monster.

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