When a society spends thirty years not only allowing a small number people to amass ludicrous amounts of money for valueless transactions that serve mostly to further exacerbate the dangerous imbalance in income stratification at a time when "equality of opportunity" is no longer a concept to which the monied class and its elected representatives can pay lip service with a straight face, but also creating an environment in which the members of that same small group are praised for their avarice and paraded in public as benevolent engines of commerce whose success is all that fuels a supposedly vibrant economy for which the rest of us are supposed to [...]
If you are interested in real estate or fashion or entrepreneurship, this history of the Bal Harbour mall is pretty fascinating. The Shops at Bal Harbour, if you don't know, just north of Miami Beach, holds last year's record for retail dollars made per square foot in the U.S. It is full of trees and turtles and koi and ashtrays and crazy-rich people. And its original success is based on low base rents with a percentage of store revenue for the landlord—as well as a pretty crazy geographical noncompete, which has since been greatly eroded. The percentage rent thing is smart, when Bulgari and Graff and Van Cleef are [...]
Today in New York City, someone just bought this wee Harry Bertoia sculpture for $50,000, well above estimate. And also late this morning at Sotheby's, at the "important 20th century design" auction: a set of used 70s silverware was estimated at $6000 to $8000. It sold for $50,000. But in stranger news, the market for Nakashima furniture seems to be a little off! Lots withdrawn! Low bids accepted! I smell anxiety about the economy on the horizon.
Oh dear, here we go again: “Wall Street is a meritocracy, for the most part,” an irate but of course unnamed onetime Citigroup executive confides to junior father confessor Gabriel Sherman in this week’s hallucinatory New York magazine cover story, “The Emasculation of Wall Street.” “If someone has a bonus, it’s because they’ve created value for their institution.”
In the jumpy, suggestible universe of Gabe Sherman, Wall Street sleuth, things really are that simple: The beleaguered financial overclass creates value, in a rationally ordered system of maximally awarded talent. And the clueless public sector, intoxicated on post-meltdown regulatory prerogative, meddles with the primal forces of nature, skews executive [...]
The New York Post account of the Sid and Mercedes Bass divorce is PHENOMENAL. So well done! It's the greatest thing ever, ever, EVER. Don't miss the part where the young Mercedes Tavacoli Diba Kellogg Bass is described by rich person chronicler Charlotte Hays this way: "When she met the ambassador, she was heavier than she is now, and, of course, she’s no great beauty. But she was the ultimate geisha." AND: "And so nine weeks after Mercedes, then 41, lobbed that fateful piece of bread, she called her husband, Ambassador Francis Kellogg, from her five-star Parisian hotel suite. 'Goodbye, darling,' she said. 'I’m marrying Sid.'" OH YES. [...]
Here's the most needlessly dramatic sentence you'll read today: "The curtain is slowly coming down on the lifestyle of the old Western world establishment, and the impact on the art market is spectacular."
NO, NOT THE CURTAIN!!! COMING DOWN! On the old Western world establishment! Aaaaagh!
Anyway, there is something of a mini-debacle in auction-land? All of the old garbage from the Lyons Demesne, in County Kildare, which is itself for sale, built 1785, was sold, but not for very much money! And this sale is rendered in the most vicious phrasing imaginable! "The monumental portrait of Mrs. Thomas Edwards Freeman done around 1778 made a laughable [...]
Who says wealth doesn’t trickle down? As the nation’s redundant masses tremble, Oliver-Twist-style, before the spectacle of a Democratic-run Congress deciding whether merely to reward quarter-millionaires or the full-scale kind with lavish tax cuts, they might do well to consult the sobering tale of billionaire enclosure of central California’s water supply. It’s hard to see just how the nation’s owning classes will produce additional helpings of gruel (or at least low-wage service-sector jobs) if they’re so deeply averse to spreading around something as essential to agriculture, health and sanitation as water.
This saga, retailed in dogged and gruesome detail by Alternet’s John Gibler, concerns the enterprising private [...]
$91,500 for a t-shirt? Yes. It finally happened. Congratulations to us, and to the Hermès men's store on Madison Avenue for just hanging it quietly on a shelf with some rather more normal clothes. (I mean, expensive clothes! But everything looks cheap next to this price tag.)
This t-shirt, to be fair, is made out of crocodile, hence its price. Literally, the entire shirt is just luxurious, beautifully sewn swaths of crocodile. This makes it possibly rather uncomfortable, and perhaps a little heavy, for a t-shirt. Seems like you might feel a little clammy in it? Also kind of awkward to just have everyone stare at your shirt. ("Is [...]
"The family’s patriarch and matriarch keep a low profile, splitting their time between a large, lavishly furnished apartment on Paris' famous Left Bank and a 6,000 acre estate in the sought-after Loire Valley." —Don't you think there's something going wrong over at Forbes when they decide they have to apply descriptors to "Left Bank" and "Loire Valley"?
Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Work at 5:30 Every Day — And You Should Toomashable.com/2012/04/05/she…
— Caitrin O'Sullivan (@CaitrinO) April 9, 2012
"I mean honestly, people, if you don’t have a rich husband and a job that’s willing to be flexible with your hours, it’s entirely your fault." Oh sure. Though I'm pretty sure the Facebook COO is far richer by now than her husband. Anyway, I'll be leaving work today at 4:30 p.m., so you know, watch my moves, people.
NO. He asked for Aaron Carter. AWKWARD. RT @DONDAWorldwide: We found the "Nell Carter" that Kanye requested.
— DONDA Group (@DONDAWorldwide) January 5, 2012
The Twitter account for DONDA Group is most likely not the official Twitter account for Kanye West's new… space… design… science… cult… thing. (If you missed it, because you have a life, Mr. West announced on Twitter a new magical Santa's Workshop last night and is bringing Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson back from the dead, or something.) But it should be.
We lookin for a locksmith, a candlestick maker, the lil' Mexican exorcist lady from Poltergeist & a driving instructor [...]
For some reason I decided to take this fall TV season with terrible seriousness and I dutifully set my DVR for all the new offerings. Most of it was easily discarded by the second episode. (So thank goodness for some returning shows; "Bored to Death" is again absolutely awesome.) "Pan Am" is soulless and dreadful and slow. "Prime Suspect" is great to watch and incredibly edited and makes New York City look fun and gritty, but still when it comes up on the recorded shows list, it rings no emotional bells. "Charlie's Angels," good grief, I turned off the pilot 20 minutes in, it's despicable. (And so long forever!) [...]
In the passing convulsions of partisan government, it’s easy for our corporate lieges to depict themselves as victims. There’s always some legislative push, or Congressional leader, to bedeck with alarmist rhetoric about the “tax-and-spend” set in Washington—even as these same clever professional victims harness the supine Congress to tamp down the estate tax, extend regressive tax cuts and ensure that the regulatory state keeps weighing the financial industry’s various roulette wheels in the house’s favor.
But behind the all the public inveighing over the wild-eyed excesses of our Jacobin Congress and (more laughably still) an "anti-business" White House, our business chieftains are, true to management form, pursuing [...]
A weekend of the long social media knives apparently just took place at rich people social network A Small World. The email excerpted above was sent to members this morning. The private social network, sold to Harvey Weinstein and then dumped by him, stopped taking new members back in February. Now they've purged their rolls of what were apparently troublemakers and/or poor people.
Meanwhile, over on A Small World founder Erik Wachmeister's new site, "Best of All Worlds," the interface is busy asking me what I am an expert in. Choices so far include "Art," "Philanthropy," "Farming" and "Hunting."
Do you know more about the A Small World shenanigans? [...]
Welcome to the most bizarre thing we've read yet this crazy election week. Marc Leder, who hosted the now wildly infamous covertly recorded Romney fundraiser, at which normal everyday white people learned that Mitt Romney hates them in the way that most Republicans only hate black people and gays, is going to nail that wonderful brave video-recording person to a wall and use him (or her!) as a sconce. "He is in the process of narrowing down the suspects and is contemplating contacting law enforcement," is what they say. Good luck with that, because I can think of about 47% of America who'll happily contribute to the legal [...]
The Pavillion Agency's vice president Seth Norman Greenberg "has also known families to prize nannies who can steer a 32-foot boat, help manage an art collection or, in one case, drive a Zamboni to clean a private ice rink." —This "economy of nannies" story is amazing.
Cathay Pacific first class, JFK to Hong Kong: caviar and handwritten notes from the cabin crew.
We are a little obsessed with yachts, simply because they are floating piles of burning f-you money, the most astounding sort of consumption. When "Eclipse" was completed in 2009, everyone said, "wow, that's a big boat!" But then earlier this year, we noted that two even bigger boats were being built in Germany (including "Topaz" and another) and, oh no! Now it's time for the Monaco Yacht Show. MORE BIG BOATS. Get ready, the Times reports: "Sales of superyachts correlate directly with the rising number of billionaires in the world." Who would have thunk? Still, turns out they took a hit in the first dip of [...]
Apart from the sinister specter of socialism, the most common complaint raised against increased federal oversight of our financial markets is that it empowers aloof bureaucrats to “pick winners and losers” on Wall Street, and therefore defiles the essence of free-market competition.
But as Louise Story makes clear in a New York Times dispatch from the arcane battles over disclosures in the derivatives market, the real reason that investment banks resent government intrusion is that is too much, rather than too little, competition. They believe that picking winners and losers is clearly their job. Storey gamely tries to report on the doings of a nine-member conclave of New [...]