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Check Out These Futuristic Shoes That Appear To Bleed


We thought we saw the most terrifying shoes back in October when a model walked in these backwards high heels, but artist Benjamin John Hall's futuristic shoes are even crazier.

Hall created a series of shoes for his art design project, Birth, Life, Death, & Resurrection. One pair can "breathe" and ooze "blood" when cut open with a knife. A few pairs can blow up balloons, while still another is set on fire as a part of the performance.

The work was recently showcased by International Talent Support, a fashion competition developed by Diesel meant to spotlight emerging fashion designers.

Check out the video and designs below.

Benjamin Hall Shoes


Benjamin Hall Shoes


Benjamin Hall Shoes

Benjamin Hall Shoes

SEE ALSO: Meet The Gorgeous Finnish Fashion Blogger Who Landed A Deal With Diesel

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Gap Is Betting Millions On A Pricey Celebrity Fashion Boutique



Today, Gapannounced it was acquiring Intermix, a fashion boutique that retails $1,500 Herve Leger dresses and is frequented by stars like Kim Kardashian

The $130 million transaction raised some eyebrows.

Gap is America's largest retailer, and sells basics at affordable prices. Intermix is a small specialty chain that stocks items that the average American could never afford. 

Both sides, however, benefit from the acquisition, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions. 

"Gap is trying to gain intelligence on how it could bring pricier, trendier merchandise in a more affordable way to its other divisions," he said. 

In addition to its namesake brand, Gap owns family clothing store Old Navy, young professional work wear retailer Banana Republic, fitness chain Athleta and affordable-but-trendy boutique Piperlime. The Intermix acquisition gives Gap's portfolio a whole new dimension. 

And why would Intermix partner with Gap? Because the retailer has incredible resources that will help the boutique expand its online and global presence, according to Dhani Mau at Fashionista.com

Gap also confirmed that it would be beefing up Intermix's e-commerce operations. 

""We have an omnichannel strategy that we're putting in place where we bring the Web and the store experience together," a Gap executive told WWD.

While the partnership between Gap and Intermix might seem strange on first glance, there's a good chance it will be a successful one, Sozzi said. 

"Gap has a good track record with acquisitions," Sozzi said. "They were able to turn Athleta into a viable competitor to Lululemon." 

Intermix sent us a photo from inside its Meatpacking District store: 

intermix meatpacking store

DON'T MISS: Meet The Secretive Spanish Billionaire Whose Net Worth Rose The Most In 2012 >

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Vanity Fair Is About To Release A Salacious Look Into The Life Of Late Billionaire Investor Teddy Forstmann


theodore forstmann

We can't wait for this.

The February issue of Vanity Fair will include The Ghost In The Gulf Stream, an intimate look at private equity investor Teddy Forstmann. He was a black jack player, an art collector, a philanthropist, and a larger-than-life figure during Wall Street's infamous leveraged buy-out era.

In fact, he plays a role in Barbarians at the Gate, the infamous story of RJR Nabisco's massive leveraged buy-out.

Forstmann died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 71. Before his death however, Vanity Fair writer Rich Cohen was taking on a task that other writers before him had found themselves unequal to — acting as ghost-writer for Forstmann's life story.

What Cohen took from that experience was the portrait of a man who felt alone in crowds of people, whose conception of himself was different from his appearance to others, and who very much felt like the paterfamilias to everyone around him.

From Vanity Fair's preview.

Cohen traveled to Paris, London, Southampton, and New York with Forstmann. While watching the French Open from IMG’s box at center court Forstmann spots a pretty girl. “What do you think if I went over and just told her, Hey, my name is Forstmann, and I happen to own the biggest modeling agency in the world.” Soon after, he decides that he should write her a note and that Cohen should take it to her. Cohen thinks better of it. “Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Stupid idea,” Forstmann says, then he gets on the phone to New York. When a man in the adjoining box hushes him, Forstmann replies “You are completely correct, sir. What I’m doing is incredibly rude. I apologize.” He resumes his phone conversation, saying, “Oh, I don’t know. Some f**king British assh*le in the next box.”

In London, Forstmann tries to get Cohen to play blackjack with him at a private gambling club where the bets go into thousands of pounds. “I’ll play for you,” Forstmann says when Cohen refuses, “and your wife—what’s her name?” Jessica, Cohen tells him. “Good, I’ll play for Jessica too. And the kids.” Cohen recalls watching Forstmann at the table: “It was like seeing into his brain, his talent at work, the same mechanism that always discovered the hidden value.I was watching an artist.” When he finishes, he drops a pile of chips into Cohen’s hand, saying: “You and your kids lost, but your wife, she did pretty well.”

Rest in peace, Teddy. We can't wait to read more about your life.

And if you're not familiar with Forstmann's incredible life and career, click here>

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Property Experts Reveal The Biggest Trends In New York Real Estate This Year


midtown new york empire state

Wondering what to expect in NYC real estate in 2013?

A dozen agents, lawyers, mortgage brokers, property managers, and appraisers tell us what they think the year will bring. 

Here's what you need to know to swim with the sharks without becoming lunch:

1. Tight-fisted lenders, shrinking inventory, buckets of cash to send co-op, condo prices up

  • Tight inventory will drive prices higher: “The challenges in getting a mortgage will continue to play out in 2013, keeping housing inventory very low as sellers with low or negative equity will opt to do nothing," says real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel. Construction lending remains tight. Low inventory (supply) is likely to press housing prices higher in 2013, bolstered by record low mortgage rates and improving employment rates (demand). "Renting or buying," says Miller, "the outlook is likely to be expensive.”
  • The biggest year for all-cash deals EVER: A well-regarded mortgage broker who asked to remain anonymous says he has never before seen so many cash buyers. He expects the trend to continue and predicts that cash buyers will make up even more than the current 25 to 35 percent of the market.  He also predicts that it's the $3 million and up segment that will thrive in 2013. 
  • A drought of starter apartments, and gradually climbing prices:“Prices will continue to rise gradually, possibly in the five to 10 percent range but there won't be any huge upswing," predicts real estate broker Ari Harkov of Halstead Property. “Foreign money will continue to flow in via cash deals and the entry level segment--$500k to $1 million--will continue to have extremely low inventory, with renters looking to buy and avoid paying increasingly high rents.”
  • Aggressive buyers = higher prices: “We are heading for a very strong spring residential market," says  Doug Perlson, CEO of web-focused real estate firm RealDirect. "A lot of buyers missed out on properties due to competitive bidding and low inventory [this year] so we'll see much more aggressive buyers coming up in 2013. More aggressive buyers means higher average prices across the board....”
  • Effects of higher tax increases for the wealthy: Federal capital gains taxes (what you pay when you sell an investment) are expected to increase at the top rate from 15 percent to at least 23.8 percent. This might result in wealthy buyers holding off selling their properties (out of shock), or even increases in ticket prices for those high-end units.
  • International influx, and post-Sandy bargains downtown:“We expect strong interest from abroad, especially considering the political uncertainty in Italy and changes in real estate tax in the U.K.," says Victoria Vinokur of Halstead.   But she expects sales prices in certain downtown buildings to go down as much as 15 or 20 percent  post Sandy. 

2. Don't expect a break in rents just yet

“We may be near the top of the rental market price boom but I don't think there'll be much of a reprieve in prices," says Miller, the appraiser and market analyst. "Credit will remain tight, keeping many would-be buyers from taking advantage of low mortgage rates and keeping them in the rental pool. We'll also see a continued improvement in employment numbers in NYC which is another key driver in the rental market.”

Because there is a lot of money to be made in the rental market, buildings that were once meant to be condos are converting to rentals.

Andrew Barrocas, CEO of real estate brokerage MNS, cites 142 North Sixth in Williamsburg as an example.

“Some developers find that their building is worth more if it's sold as a rental building so they convert to rental and sell the building," he says. "And just about every new building coming on the market that's over 100 units is going to be rental.”  

3. The action tilts toward Brooklyn and Queens

What neighborhoods will join the popular club in 2013? Lots, according to our sources.

Barrocas is bullish on Brooklyn, particularly Greenpoint along the waterfront and all along the L train route in Bushwick for rentals. 

In Manhattan, says real estate agent Sharon McIntosh of the McIntosh Company, “TriBeCa sales will slow down because of super storm Sandy [but] continue to be a place for Wall Street singles and young couples. A neighborhood that will benefit from TriBeCa's slowdown is the East Village. Lots of new construction and the kinds of funky shops and restaurants that are quickly disappearing from Manhattan.”

Gary Malin, president of real estate brokerage Citi Habitats, sees a brighter picture for the so-called SoPo (South of Power) 'hoods.

"All downtown Manhattan neighborhoods will remain hot, especially the ones on the west side along the High Line," says Malin. At the same time, some sticker-shocked buyers will head "to the outer boroughs that are an easy commute....Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside in Queens are all poised for serious growth in 2013.”

In their latest blog entry entitled "Top NYC Neighborhoods for 2013 Real Estate Investment," the brokers at RealDirect offered many opinions including one linked to a hipster baby-boom.

“Greenpoint is ripe for massive growth as Williamsburg residents are starting to have children," says Perlson.  

RealDirect broker Kumar Laidley pegs Roosevelt Island as the next hot 'hood.

“With the announcement that Cornell is planning to turn the island into a state-of-the-art tech campus, Roosevelt Island went from sleepy bedroom community to the heart of NY's tech hub," says Laidley. "Brand new Four Freedoms Park has transformed a once neglected area into a breathtaking open space.” 

Another RealDirect broker, Leia Furer, made up a name for the neighborhood she thinks is hot: West TriSoHo-- “the lovely micro- neighborhood that runs from Spring Street to Vestry along Hudson Steet all the way to Hudson River Park..” She likes its cobblestone streets, cast iron buildings, proximity to the riverfront and the new shops and restaurants.

4. Mortgage rates low--and lenders lying lower

Interest rates will stay historically low, not increasing until unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke(It is currently at 7.7 percent.) However, getting financing will continue to be a major challenge for buyers.

One mortgage insider predicts that the amount of money lent out to buyers in 2013 will be the lowest of all time. People are dropping out of the mortgage business quickly but that means “the survivors are the best qualified. Now the right brokers are giving mortgages to the right buyers.”

5. Co-op and condos focus on keeping up with the Jonses--and off AirBnB

With a new crop of spanking new residential developments getting set to hit the market in 2013--resetting buyers' expectations yet again--co-op and condo boards may have to consider improvements to their buildings--and leveling assessments to do so--in order to remain competitive among buyers, says Malin. 

Staying competitive will also mean answering tough questions about disaster preparedness,  says closing attorney Adam Stone of Regosin, Edwards, Stone and Feder

“Purchasers will be asking questions about how the building handled the storm, whether mechanical equipment is housed at lobby level or below... how responsive the building was to its owners after super storm Sandy," says Stone.

Co-op and condo attorney Dean Roberts of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus thinks that the prime issue for board members will be their personal vulnerability to lawsuits. 

“The Dakota case has created a new awareness of the potential liability that may go along with board membership," says Roberts. "Members must understand that standard Directors and Officers (D&O) policies do not cover all situations. I recommend having a managing agent or broker invite an expert in to explain to the board the limits, deductions and exceptions of their D and O.”

Robert Braverman, a co-op and condo attorney at Braverman Greenspun thinks personal safety concerns around short-term rentals are going to be the big issue.

“Condominium boards are going to become even more vigilant in pursuing illegal transient occupancy which has, unfortunately, reached epidemic levels with the increasing popularity of web-based rental services," says Braverman.

6. New construction projects get smaller, but the apartments get bigger, while concessions shrink

The condos that are being built now are “boutique condos”--smaller than what has gone before, according to Barrocas.

He cites several reasons.

There is a shortage of land to build on, it is challenging to get financing for the over-$100m you'd need for a large condo development, and the boom in the rental market makes rental projects extremely attractive, he says.

Stephen G. Kliegerman of Terra Development Marketing, agrees that “the majority of new product will be higher-end larger homes starting in the $2,000 per-square-foot range and climbing to well over $5,000. The focus will be on two-, three- and four bedroom residences of 1,500 to 4,000 square feet. The buyers will be New Yorkers who have weathered the recession...as well as foreigners searching for a safe haven for equity.”

Buyer resistance to paying the typical closing costs will continue, predicts Stone, in part because “the pre-2008 days of almost automatic instant equity gains are over…. At most buildings sponsors will continue to pay closing costs and include extras that were unheard of pre-2008.”

Still, Kliegerman says developers will be thriftier overall when it comes to concessions.

"I do not see developers offering any concessions in 2013," he says. "With inventories at such low levels and the demand for new development product incredibly high, developers have little reason to offer concessions in the current market.  Buyers should be more focused on securing the residence they most desire before prices rise as inventories for the next 24 months will remain low."

Real estate broker Mike Akerly of Akerly Real Estate, which represents a number of new Brooklyn developments, says the pent-up demand for new construction there shows no signs of easing.

"Our team has seen an incredible response to new condo launches," he says. At one Prospect Heights project his fall, "seventy-five percent sold in three weeks. At a new condo at 268 St. Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights  where we haven't yet launched sales, we have a list of dozens of buyers who have requested showings even before the drywall is up.”

A sizzling rental market will put more pressure on new construction supply.

"With the booming rental market, many sponsors are forgoing their condo declaration plans and moving forward with lease plans for their new buildings," says Akerly.

7. Fading tax abatements and smaller buildings extract big price in amenities

Since many of the new projects that are coming on line in 2013 have fewer than 100 units, these buildings won't have the footprint to support more lavish amenities.  Yet fitness centers, roof decks/outdoor space and extra storage room will remain popular. 

“Developers want to create a lifestyle and sense of community in their buildings, using the shared spaces to accomplish that. In individual apartments, washers and dryers have become de rigeur, even in rentals,” says Malin.

Bicycle storage is important in an increasingly bike friendly city. Gyms with a focus on core training, spinning and low impact aerobic training are here to stay and you'll see “an increase in the use of remote doorman systems as real estate tax abatements fade and developers and boards look for ways to reduce expenditures,” Kliegerman predicts.

8. Must-have contract provisions: Inspection rights, bed bug history and financing contingencies

Even if you are a highly qualified buyer, you still need a mortgage contingency in your contract allowing you to walk away with your deposit if you can't obtain a mortgage commitment.

Your lawyer should also negotiate a funding contingency which protects you after the commitment letter if the bank fails to issue you a mortgage for any reason that's not your fault, says Stone, the closing attorney.

"Lenders are taking hard looks at buildings' financials," says Stone. "We've had instances where the bank keeps sending the loan back for underwriting clearance on many issues that are beyond the control of the borrower and ultimately refuses to fund the loan."

Malin advises having a right to a thorough professional home inspection built into all contracts. 

In addition, bed bugs will still be something to be concerned about, notes Stone, so your attorney should include a contract representation as to no bedbugs or other vermin in the apartment or adjacent units.

9. More smokers will get smoked out

Second-hand smoke, drifting through vents and under doors, will be the new hot button issue this year.

According to Malin, Mayor Bloomberg's announcement of a new initiative that awards a $10,000 grant to community groups who  “convince residential buildings in their neighborhood to go completely smoke-free, will keep this controversial issue in the headlines in 2013."

SEE ALSO: 9 renovations you can make right under your landlord's nose >

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The Love Triangle Between Padma Lakshmi, Teddy Forstmann, And Adam Dell Was More Complicated Than We Thought


theodore forstmann and padma lakshmi

Next month's Vanity Fair is going to include a deep dive in to the world of late billionaire private equity investor, gentleman and philanthropist Teddy Forstmann.

Naturally, we can't wait, and to ramp up anticipation, Vanity Fair has released some juicy details about a man who was no stranger to big names and scandal.

During his life-long bachelorhood, Forstmann was connected to fascinating women like Princess Diana and model Elizabeth Hurley.

In his last years, though, he was connected to celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi, and according to Vanity Fair, he wanted her daughter with billionaire venture capitalist Adam Dell to be raised as his own regardless of who the father was.

Lakshmi reportedly started seeing Dell while she and Forstmann's relationship was on ice. When she took a paternity test, found out the child was in fact Dell's and decided to tell him, Forstmann felt "heartbroken."

From Vanity Fair:

Forstmann was very bitter about “losing” the baby to Dell—Cohen describes him as “heartbroken” over the whole thing, and he could be sensitive about the topic. At one point in Cohen’s interviews, a fashion-designer acquaintance approached their table at a restaurant, casually asking Forstmann, “Teddy, how’s your baby?” Forstmann, who icily replied “just fine” to her at the time, later flew into a profane rage. “My baby? She knows very well it’s not my baby. The b*tch! The f*cking b*tch! The g*dd*mn b*tch!”

Forstmann died in 2011 of brain cancer. He was 71 and had two adopted sons.

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Celebrity Nightlife Photographer Patrick McMullan Explains How To Take A Great Party Photo


patrick mcmullan

We see celebrity nightlife photographer Patrick McMullan's name plastered all over party publications like Page Six, Guest of a Guest, and New York Magazine, so we were excited when a recent Q&A with him popped up in Gotham Magazine.

McMullan, who has been documenting New York's social scene for decades, told the magazine that today, anyone can be a nightlife photographer.

He said:

All you need is a camera, or even a phone will do. I think it is always best to let people know you want to take a picture, for best results, but candids are so much fun. It's also good to tell them how the camera works in case it's a slow shutter.

McMullan also shared a composition tip:

A great party photograph has interesting people wearing interesting clothes and shows people having fun! It also makes you do a double take.

Check out the full Q&A at Gotham Magazine.

SEE ALSO: The 10 Best Bars In New York City

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The Coolest New Status Symbols Among China's Wealthy Are Old Cars And Grand Pianos


grand piano

With many of China’s wealthy elite turning away from public displays of wealth and enjoying high-priced toys within the privacy of their own homes, new status symbols like antique cars and grand pianos are joining the ranks of popular stealth buys.

Joining other collector segments that have gained popularity in China over the past decade — among them wine, art, cigars and watches — as China Daily notes this week, interest in the Mainland is steadily rising for rare automobiles, following similar trends in Europe, the US, and Hong Kong. Via China Daily:

“In my view, a resurgence in antique car collecting is in the making among Chinese car enthusiasts and the newly rich. Some mainland collectors have become interested in antique cars, influenced by their friends from Europe, the United States and Hong Kong,” said [businessman Ian] Wade.

More importantly, “during a global economic downturn, there is still enough capital among car collectors and rich investors on the Chinese mainland,” he added.

Though collectors like Wade obviously have a vested interest in seeing the popularity of high-end car collecting gaining traction in China, other recent happenings have shown that interest in antique cars isn’t limited only to a handful of niche enthusiasts. Last month, in an effort to promote antique car collecting, China’s State Administration of Culture Heritage held its first-ever seminar on the topic at the Shanghai Auto Museum, bringing together experts and potential buyers.

Over the course of 2012, automakers themselves also promoted heritage models to Chinese gearheads, with Volkswagen holding an antique auto rally from Beijing to Shanghai in October that featured a 1930 8-liter Bentley, a Lamborghini 400 GT, a 1975 2.7-liter Porsche 911, a 1956 Volkswagen Beetle Miglia Mile and a 1972 Beetle Salzburg Kfer shipped from Europe. Last April, Cadillac sent classic models ranging from a Harley Earl-designed LaSalle (1927-1940) to Salvador Dali’s beloved Fleetwood Sixty, a classic Eldorado, and a one-of-a-kind Model M to China to take part in its “Dramatic Journey” exhibition in Beijing.

Efforts to promote classic and antique car collecting in China haven’t been limited to auto brands and cultural departments, however. In 2011, Chinese auction house Beijing Poly sold five antique autos at its spring auctions for the first time ever. As Ian Wade told China Daily, it’s likely we’ll see more Chinese enthusiasts scouring the world for classic motors, but the high price of importing overseas buys and a dearth of trained maintenance professionals means it’ll remain a very expensive hobby for quite some time.

In addition to antique cars, high-priced grand pianos are also becoming a must-have status symbol for China’s newly wealthy. As with any segment of China’s luxury market, however, buyers aren’t homing in on just any old brand, a fact that has benefited prominent manufacturers like Steinway & Sons. With the country’s cashed-up consumers spending heavily on music lessons for their “little emperors,” a grand piano has become a household must-have to connote sophistication and cultivation, and with the European market shrinking for top-tier piano producers, the timing is just right for leading brands. Via Worldcrunch:

“In the past few months, demand [in Europe, for grand pianos] has fallen 10 to 12%,” [Werner Husmann, managing director of Steinway & Sons in Europe and Asia] says, adding that the pinch is being felt far more by cheaper brands like Schimmel and Bechstein than it is by Steinway.

In China, private buyers comprise up to 65% of Steinway’s market, but in Europe only 40% of Steinway buyers are amateur musicians. Most European customers are professionals – music teachers, soloists.

“And a lot of people in Europe already have a piano,” Husmann points out, so on the old continent the company is pursuing a strategy of keeping its sales stable.

Another major growth market is the Arab Emirates [...] In the Emirates, as it is in China, a Steinway grand piano is more a symbol of an up-market lifestyle than it is something to aspire playing. So here too “we’re competing with other luxury goods for the favor of wealthy customers,” says Husmann.

While grand pianos haven’t quite joined the luxury car, the Rolex or Patek, the antique ink-and-paper painting and logo-festooned handbag among the crucial “first buys” of China’s nouveau riche, wealthy consumers who want to keep their pricey items behind closed doors are certainly shelling out. Last year, China became Steinway’s leading market, demoting long-time top market Europe into second place, and back in June 2011, the piano maker’s BMW Individual 7 Series Steinway & Sons edition got the red-carpet treatment during its China debut.

SEE ALSO: Chinese Pirates Are Building A Knock-Off Version Of Zaha Hadid's New Beijing Complex

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A Man Is Selling The Lamborghini He Built Because It Deserves A Better Owner


ken imhoff lamborghini countach

In 2008, Ken Imhoff of Wisconsin got a lot of attention when he revealed the Lamborghini Countach he had spent 17 years building in his basement.

But just a few years later, he is putting the homemade supercar up for sale on eBay, with a starting bid of $75,000.

Why is he giving up the ride he put so much effort into building? Because he loves it so much, he wants to see it happy.

Imhoff puts the mileage at 100 miles, proof that he has hardly driven the car. In a somewhat melancholy YouTube video he made for the occasion, he explains he wants the Countach to be in the hands of someone who will appreciate it more than he does:

I don't value its ownership as much as I did creating it...Life after its completion was not as well thought out as the build itself. And truth be known, it probably really belongs to someone who can appreciate it more than I do.

By that I mean, put it on display, drive it...The car deserves a lot more than I can give it.

In the eBay listing, Imhoff encourages bidders to ask questions and carefully consider what they might be buying: "There needs to be a lot of discussion between me and its next owner. It means a lot to me that it goes to the right home."

The car is a copy of the 1980 Countach, with real Lamborghini taillights, parking lights, windshield, and badges. Under the hood is a Ford V8 engine that produces 514 horsepower.

Here's the video he made, starting with his explanation for why he is selling it. To see the Countach in action, jump to the 4:10 mark. Things get really good around 6:30:

SEE ALSO: This Lamborghini Countach Is A Bargain At $124,995

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10 Exciting New Cars Most Americans Won't Get To Drive


porsche spyder 918

2013 looks set to be a fantastic year for new cars.

Here are 10 exciting models due in showrooms this year.

Alfa Romeo 4C

The beautiful 4C will be powered by a mid-mounted, 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

With a kerb weight of less than 1,000kg thanks to the use of carbon-fibre in its construction, performance should be excellent.

Price: Approx £45,000

Launch date: Autumn

Porsche 918 Spyder

By combining a race-bred 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine with pair of electric motors, Porsche has created a supercar that can travel from 0-62mph in 3.2sec and yet still return 94mpg in EU Combined tests.

Other astonishing figures include a 199mph top speed and CO2 emissions (again on the EU Combined cycle) of 70g/km.

Price: £624,000

Launch date: September

Renaultsport Clio

A five-door body housing a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and paddleshift gearbox mark a new era of Clio hot hatches.

You can also expect a launch control system and handling tuned by Renaultsport's experts, who have an excellent track record.

Price: Approx £18,000

Launch date: May

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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And Now Billionaire Heiress Petra Ecclestone Is Supposedly Trying To Unload Her London Mansion For $52 Million


petra ecclestone london house

Is this what sibling rivalry looks like when a few hundred million dollars are thrown into the mix?

Days after 28-year-old Formula One heiress Tamara Ecclestone was reported to have listed her London pad for $32 million, celebrity real estate blogger The Real Estalker reports that younger sister Petra has put her own London home on the market with a $52 million price tag.

And this isn't the only real estate rivalry between the two. A year and a half after Petra made waves for spending $85 million on the famed Spelling Manor in Los Angeles, it came to light that Tamara was eyeing an even more extravagant mansion in the same neighborhood, listed at $125 million.

Petra's London home, listed with Knight Frank, certainly fits Petra's design tastes. As she revealed to W Magazine last year, “I’ve got quite masculine taste ... I don’t like a lot of pattern. [The living] room is the only light room; everything else is very dark and kind of sexy, with, like, a boudoir feel to it. You’re not scared if you stain something."

The townhouse is located in posh Eaton Square in Belgravia.

It has eight stories; six above ground and two below. The kitchen is modern and minimalistic.

The dining room incorporates Petra's love for dark shades.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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YACHT OF THE WEEK: Take The Family For A Cruise On The $875,000 'Mr. Ed'


mr. ed yacht

Family vacations are as much about spending time together as they are about getting away from it all. The "Mr. Ed" is the perfect yacht for a family vacation — and it costs under $1 million.

It is not a huge yacht at 97 feet long, but there's plenty of room for eight guests and a crew of three.

Built in 1991 by Maiora, an Italian yacht firm, it was refit in 2009.

The "Mr. Ed" is listed for $875,000 by International Yacht Collection.

The yacht is 92 feet long.

It is powered by a Detroit Diesel 16V92TA engine.

It cruises at 18 knots (20.7 mph), and can hit a speedy 22 knots (25.3 mph).

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Fashion Designer Tory Burch Is Officially A Billionaire


tory burch

Tory Burch is officially a billionaire.

Her ex-husband Chris sold half his stake in her company last week, ending an acrimonious legal battle and securing Tory's status as a billionaire. 

The women's apparel company she started in 2004 is now worth an estimated $3.5 billion, making her 28.3 percent stake worth over $1 billion, according to Forbes

She could be worth even more if the company decides to go public, something that many industry people speculate could happen now that her legal battle is over. 

Tory Burch LLC brought in $800 million in revenues in 2012, according to Forbes. By comparison, Michael Kors brought in $800 million in revenues in 2011, went public that year, and is now worth $10 billion. 

Burch started her business in her kitchen 10 years ago. Today, she is famous for her Reva ballet flats, which are a staple among working women. 

Congratulations, Tory!

DON'T MISS: How Tory Burch Created A $2 Billion Fashion Empire In Less Than A Decade >

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How Tory Burch Became A Fashion Billionaire In Less Than A Decade


tory burch

Less than a decade after she started a fashion brand in her kitchen, Tory Burch is officially a billionaire.

Her eponymous fashion line, which includes high-end handbags and Reva ballet flats, is ubiquitous.

The designer's bags, sunglasses and shoes are flying off the shelves at Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Saks. She's competing with more established brands like Coach, Michael Kors and Kate Spade—and winning.

Burch's company is now valued at more than $3.5 billion. 

Burch started her career a fashion copywriter. After her ex-husband, retail tycoon Christopher Burch, gave her $2 million, she began designing clothes in her kitchen. Before long, she had an important celebrity endorsement and soaring sales figures. 

We mapped out how Burch became a fashion billionaire. 

Tory Burch grew up in Philadelphia.

Her mother is a former actress, while her father was an investor. She graduated high school and attended the University of Pennsylvania. 

Burch had a series of writing jobs before starting her fashion line.

She worked for Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and Harper's Bazaar. 

In 2004, she launched her New York City flagship boutique.

It's located in the retail mecca of NoLita. Pictured is her Madison Avenue store.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The 9 Wackiest Items We've Seen In Hotel Minibars


Hotel Triton, San FranciscoHotel minibars have a bit of a naughty reputation. After all, they tempt and tease world-weary travelers with salty-sweet goodness at all hours of the day, and then come with a double-digit price tag to boot.

But sometimes, the items up for grabs can at least provide guests with a moment of amusement. Some hotels feature rather surprising minibar offerings — we’re talking walking sticks and 24-karat gold vibrators. It’s enough to make guests pause in their perusal of the candy selection and say, “Wait, what?”

We’ve come across some of the wackiest minibar items during our travels; here are some of our favorites.

Alexander Wang-Designed Condoms at the Thompson Beverly Hills

At the flashy Thompson Beverly Hills, spending the night with that special someone just got more fashionable. Designer Alexander Wang created special packaging for PROPER ATTIRE condoms, which are for sale at all Thompson properties, as well as on the brand’s website. Couples pay $5.99 for a pack of three assorted (which include extra large, ultra-thin, and studded — oh my!) and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood. 

Detoxifying Spray at Fifteen Beacon, Boston

This exquisite boutique in Boston never lacks for service, so it should come as no surprise that the health of its guests is of utmost importance to management — especially its hungover guests. Minibars at Fifteen Beacon include an off-beat, all-natural sleep enhancer, City Life Detoxer from Sprayology, for $24. Said to flush away urban toxins, this homeopathic, FDA-approved oral spray is supposed to ease breathing difficulties, coughing, sluggishness, and lung and liver toxicity. All we have to say is, another round, please?

3D Glasses and Walking Sticks at the Ace Hotel — Portland

This hipster haven hotel is both stylish and eco-friendly, featuring unique amenities that spill out of the minibar and into the living space as interesting design elements. The Ace Hotel — Portland is certainly the case for the walking sticks the hotel offers guests. The 3D glasses are a bit more circumspectly presented, but their inclusion does not go without notice.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Fake Braces Trend Takes Asia By Storm



In America, teenagers think that braces are awkward, dorky and annoying. But in Asia, braces are cool. They're so cool in fact, that teens in Thailand, Indonesia and China are even wearing fake braces to make a fashion statement, Vice Magazine reported. The trend is catching on because braces are considered a sign of wealth and status.

The problem? Fake braces are also dangerous. Fake braces have been linked to the deaths of two Thai teens so far, Vice reported, leading the Thai government to ban fashion braces. Officials say that some of the illegal braces that were seized contained lead. 

The trend has being going on for at least four years, and Indonesian star Andika Kangen recently started wearing pink-and-green fake braces, the AFP reported.Teens are paying around $100 for black market braces.

YouTube tutorials tell teens how to wear fake braces, and various blogs continue to promote the look.

It's not the first time the trend has drawn international attention--and government concern. "Some people put the fashion (braces) on by themselves, which is dangerous because they could come loose and slip into the throat," the secretary-general of the Consumer Protection Board in Thailand told CBS in 2009.

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Meet The Japanese Tourist Who Is Vacationing On The Front Line Of The Syrian Civil War


Japanese trucker Toshifumi Fujimoto is bored with his humdrum job, a daily run from Osaka to Tokyo or Nagasaki hauling tanker loads of gasoline, water or even chocolate.

Yet while the stocky, bearded 45-year-old could spend his free time getting a jolt of adrenaline by bungee-jumping or shark hunting, he puts his life on the line in a most unusual way.

He's become a war tourist.

Fujimoto's passion has taken him from the dull routine of the highway to Syria, where as part of his latest adventure in the Middle East's hot spots he shoots photos and video while dodging bullets with zest.

He was in Yemen last year during demonstrations at the US embassy and in Cairo a year earlier, during the heady days that followed the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak. Later this year, he plans to hook up with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But for the moment, he is wrapping up a week's tour of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which for going on six months has been one of the hottest spots in a conflict that has cost more than 60,000 lives, according to UN figures.

He already spent two weeks in the war-torn country at the end of 2011, taking advantage of a tourist visa, but this time he has entered the country clandestinely from Turkey.

Dressed in a Japanese army fatigues and armed with two cameras and a video camera -- Japanese, of course -- Fujimoto heads for whatever frontline he can every morning to document the ongoing destruction of Syria's second city and one-time commercial capital.

Fujimoto, who doesn't speak English, much less Arabic, has picked up a few words, such as "dangerous" and "front line."

The only way to interview him was to make use of Google Translate.

"I always go by myself, because no tour guide wants to go to the front. It's very exciting, and the adrenaline rush is like no other.

"It's more dangerous in Syria to be a journalist than a tourist," he said, describing how "each morning I walk 200 metres (yards) to reach the 'front', and I'm right there on the firing line with soldiers of the (rebel) Free Syria Army."

"It fascinates me, and I enjoy it," he says, as some FSA fighters stop him in one of the Old City's streets to have their picture taken with him.

"Most people think I'm Chinese, and they greet me in Chinese," he smiled.

He takes his time getting his shots right, as the rebels he hangs out with shout from both sides of the street: "Run! Run! There are snipers. Run!"

But he ignores them, finishes shooting and casually walks away with photos that he will later post on his Facebook page to share with his friends.

"I'm not a target for snipers because I'm a tourist, not like you journalists," he told a reporter. "Besides, I'm not afraid if they shoot at me or that they might kill me. I'm a combination of samurai and kamikaze."

Fujimoto won't even wear a helmet or a flack jacket.

"They are very heavy when it comes to running and it's more fun to go to the front without anything. Besides, when they shoot it's fun and exciting."

Fujimoto said his employers don't know he's in Syria.

"I just told them I was going to Turkey on holiday; if I'd told them the truth, they'd tell me I'm completely crazy."

But though some might doubt his sanity, no one can question his financial foresight, which is rooted in the sadness of his personal life.

Fujimoto is divorced, and says "I have no family, no friends, no girl friend. I am alone in life."

But he does have three daughters, whom he hasn't seen for five years, "not even on Facebook or the Internet, nothing. And that saddens me deeply," he said as he wiped away a tear.

So he's bought a life insurance policy, and "I pray every day that, if something happens to me, my girls might collect the insurance money and be able to live comfortably."

Fujimoto doesn't make any money off his photography, and spent $2,500 (1,894 euros) out of his own pocket for the flight to Turkey. Then there's another $25 a day that he pays a local resident, who puts him up in his house and gives him Internet access.

In his week in Aleppo, he has covered all the battle fronts -- in the districts of Amariya, Salaheddin, Saif al-Dawla, Izaa -- and though he's shared many of the images he's captured, one of them has stuck in his mind.

He opened a file on his laptop to show the partly decomposed body of a seven-year-old girl in Saif al-Dawla, gunned down by a sniper, which has lain unclaimed for months.

One wonders if any of his daughters could be the same age, but there was no way to pry more out of him, as he wept every time they were brought up.

"I love children, but Syria is no place for them. A bomb can snuff out their lives at any moment," he said, as some FSA fighters asked him to join them in Saleheddin and he ambled off down the street toward the sound of fighting.

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MAP: How Rich People Are Squeezing Out Poor People In Brooklyn


That Brooklyn houses one of New York City's hottest real estate markets is old news. But a look at some new data shows how uneven and concentrated the borough's transformation is. A number of Brooklyn neighborhoods have seen their residential property values appreciate at an incredible clip. According to PropertyShark's real estate blog:

  • Home prices per square foot are up 174 percent in Williamsburg, from $269 per square foot in 2004 to $736 in 2012. As happened in Manhattan’s SoHo decades ago, those that gave Williamsburg its éclat are at risk of being priced out of their very own stomping grounds.
  • Residential values in Prospects Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood of beautiful limestone and brownstone single family houses near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the old Ebbets Field have risen 63 percent, from $235 to $382 per square foot during the period, despite a lack of restaurants, bars, shops, and music venues that Williamsburg is famous for.
  • Sandwiched in between Carroll Gardens to the west and Park Slope to its east, property values in gritty Gowanus have gone up more than 50 percent, despite its notoriously polluted canal.

brooklyn property

None of this is particularly surprising. Brooklyn's Park Slope bested Manhattan's Lower East Side for the crown of New York's "most livable" neighborhood in a 2010 ranking by Nate Silver for New York magazine. Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens/Gowanus, and Prospect Heights all numbered among the top 10. As the map shows, most of the neighborhoods that have seen substantial increases in property values are directly across the river from lower Manhattan, or near Prospect Park, the only exception being Coney Island to the far south.

But what the map also shows is how localized this gentrification turns out to be. Despite Brooklyn's image as an uber-gentrified, artisanally-over-the-top hipster-ville, the reality is that more than half of Brooklyn's neighborhoods have actually seen their property values grow much more modestly or even slide.

atlantic brooklyn property

When you look to the east towards Brownsville, Canarsie, and East Flatbush — where millions of Brooklyn's residents live — property values have declined by double digits. The three neighborhoods that have seen the biggest declines are Cypress Hills, East Flatbush, and Flatbush. When you look to the traditional working class and middle class neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Midwood, the appreciation is much more modest, in the single digits. 

I have often noted that the world is getting spikier, as economic activity concentrates in certain locations. It happens within cities too — even within boroughs, as some neighborhoods experience stunning growth, and others continue to languish. The map shows how uneven and spiky urban transformation is and how divided our cities remain — a subject I will be writing much more about in the New Year.

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The Most Expensive Places To Ski In North America [Infographic]


We all know that skiing is an expensive sport, but some destinations are pricier than others.

Considering that lift tickets can top out at $110 per day, equipment rentals can cost more than $50 per day, and hotels can run upwards of $600 per night, chances are that cost will be a big factor in determining where you ski this season.

TripAdvisor calculated the cheapest and most expensive ski destinations in the U.S. and Canada. They factored in the daily cost of a lift ticket, hotel, gear rental, a burger-and-fries meal and the cost of a beer to create their Ski Index.

They found that Vail, Colorado, is the most expensive ski destination in North America, with a total daily cost of $801: lift tickets cost $109, equipment rentals cost $31, a meal (and beer) cost about $17, and hotels cost $645 per night. Aspen and Park City came in as the second and third most expensive places to ski, respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, Durango, Colorado, is the cheapest place to ski with a total cost of $210 per day — a hotel room there costs just $96 per night.

See TripAdvisor's full Ski Index infographic below.

TripAdvisor Ski Index

TripAdvisor Ski Index

TripAdvisor Ski Index

SEE ALSO: The Coolest Ski Gear On The Market >

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Jennifer Lopez Reveals What Happened To Her Famous Versace Dress


Jennifer Lopez has revealed what happened to the plunging Versace gown she famously wore to the Grammys in 2000. 

The green chiffon gown revealed most of her chest down to her navel, and transformed Lopez into a household name. Since then, she's starred in several movies and produced hit records. 

In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Lopez revealed what happened to the dress: 

"I have that at home," she told the magazine. "The other day, my housekeeper put it on a mannequin in my spa, where I get my hair and makeup done. She sent me a picture. She was like, 'You like this dress?' Um, yeah, but I don't know if I like it out in the house!" 

When the writer joked that Lopez's 4-year-old daughter Emme could inherit the dress, the singer was horrified. 

"Oh God, no!" she said. 

To jog your memory, here's a photo of the gown: 

jennifer lopez and puff daddy

DON'T MISS: The Violent Film Roles Of 8 Celebrities Fighting For Gun Control >

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Here's How They Filmed That Heartbreaking Ad In Which Fat People Talk To Their Newly Thin Selves (MED)



There's a new challenger to Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem in the New Year's resolutions dieting campaign war: Medifast.

Medifast — which like Nutrisystem does meal plans — has a clever TV campaign running right now that includes a heartbreaking ad featuring customer Tina Shelley, who appears as both her former (fat) self and her new (svelte) self.

That kind of before-and-after comparison isn't new of course, but the editing idea in this ad is, and it will blow you away: She is shown crying over how thin she has become on the Medifast plan during a conversation she is apparently having with herself. The two images of her before-and-after body, in the same shot, are a jarring comparison. They appear side-by-side, seamlessly, and her appearance is so different that at first it looks as if they're using two different actors.

Only in the final shot, when thin Tina whispers "Thank you" to her former self for trying the Medifast plan (and fat Tina weeps with relief), does the viewer realize, "wow, that's the same person." You have to have a heart of stone not to get a little choked up.

It turns out the conversation, and the two versions of Tina, are completely real and done without any special effects beyond careful editing. Watch the spot and then we'll explain how it was done.

We talked to Eric Sorensen, creative director at the ad agency Solve, to find out how the ad was made. It's a simple idea that was very carefully executed.

Filming began in January of last year with a group of Medifast customers who were willing to commit to the diet. They were told to imagine themselves after they had lost weight, and then told to ask themselves about it, what it was like to be thin. On the set, the actual conversation took place with a nutritionist.

Then, nine months later, the folks who had lost the most weight were asked back. "You have to shoot essentially the same commercial twice, and you have to have the camera in the exact same location at the beginning and at the end," Sorenson says. Even the position of the furniture was logged.

With newly thin Tina sitting in the other chair, she then responded to the questions she had asked herself back in January. "It wasn't very scripted at all," Sorenson says. In the first session, Tina had experienced "a pretty emotional day on the set," Sorenson says, which naturally became TV gold once she returned in fall looking like a million dollars.

"I bought a swimsuit this year for the first time in like eight years," Tina tells herself. The effect is pronounced because Tina appears to have received a much more flattering wardrobe, hair and makeup prep in the second take -- but it's still cool.

Notably, there's no CGI. It's just very, very clever editing.

Here's a "making of" video, so you can see how it was done.

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