Filed under: Wealth
Filed under: Wealth
Gallery: The Timbers, Watch Hill
Filed under: Estates
Gallery: The Citadel
Filed under: Dining
Gallery: More from ZOKA
Filed under: Yachts & Sailing
The list of the most expensive cities in the United States is now out, and unsurprisingly, New York has taken the top spot, with a cost of living that's double its closest follower. Of course, the financial crisis has put a bit of pressure on real estate prices and the cost of goods all over the country, but there are still some places that just cost a fortune.
New York: a two-bedroom luxury apartment (unfurnished) now costs a mere $4,300, off $200 from last year. And, there are other signs that the most expensive city is becoming less expensive, including the shuttering of Café des Artistes and the opening of our first J.C. Penney (ugh).
Los Angeles: this is where you go if you can afford only half the cost of living in New York. Unlike the most expensive city in the country, it makes sense to have a car out there, but get a nice one: you'll be spending a lot of time in it. LA has some of the longest commutes in the country.
Washington, D.C.: in this part of the country, take advantage of a 3.8 percent unemployment rate for the metro area. That's a hell of a lot better than the nationwide 9.8 percent (expected to break 10 percent early next year).
Filed under: Wine
Filed under: Real Estate Developments
Filed under: Estates
Gallery: Westinghouse-Lindbergh Estate
Filed under: Art
When art collectors beef, there are no dis' records. Instead, there's just beef. Canadian art collector Jolles Shefner picked up one of Chaim Soutine's paintings from the Le boeuf (Piece of Beef) series for a mere $68,000 in 1981. She went home and hung it in her living room for the next 23 years. Then, she sold it for $1 million. Half a year after that, Soutine's beef wound up in Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art, which paid $2 million for it. Now, all the people in this chain of transactions have beef. When someone makes a great deal, it's usually at the expense of the person on the other side.
Shefner's heirs sued the middlemen from Jolles' sale and the National Art Gallery – essentially for fraud. Though the truth is still struggling to the surface, Soutine experts Maurice Tuchman and Esti Dunow appear to be involved in both the Shefner sale and the later sale to the National Gallery of Art. Shefner's estate seems to have accused Tuchman and Dunow of market manipulation, using their Soutine savvy to maximize their earnings.
In the lawsuit filings, Shefner's heirs claim that Tuchman and Dunow left "at least half a dozen" comparable Soutine sales from the list they provided to the Jolles to support the 2004 valuation and sale. And, these folks are saying the National Gallery of Art didn't investigate the source of the painting sufficiently. Of course, the family wants the painting back.
Tuchman and Dunow deny any impropriety and have indicated that Jolles' daughter received an independent valuation from an auction house that put the value of the painting at $1 million. But, the dynamic duo of Soutine wanted to restore order to the world. So, they agreed to pay $210,000 to the National Art Gallery in a settlement deal so complicated, you'd think it would be intended to end in the death of James Bond. They will authenticate the painting and maintain a provenance listing. The painting itself will go back to the Shefner family. The National Art Gallery will pick up $1,325,000 in cash from the Shefner heirs and a seven-year promisorry note for $650,000. All three payments come to $2,185,000. The museum walks away with a small profit – and it holds onto the painting until the promissory note is paid.
Filed under: Cigars
Maybe, society has had enough. In Spokane, Washington, even non-smokers came to the defense of the cigar community when public golf courses tried to implement a ban. Other places are relying on creativity, such as tobacconist De La Concha's cigar dinners. In New Hampshire, the legislature is getting involved – a bill may legalize the sale of liquor in cigar bars.
In most places, it's tough to find a social setting where you can enjoy a cocktail and a cigar at the same time. The "live free or die" folks are looking to change that. If tobacconists are able to receive liquor licenses, the resulting store traffic could offset much of the damage being done by the financial crisis.
For Two Guys Smoke Shop in Salem, New Hampshire – where I used to go when I lived in northern Massachusetts – sales have fallen since the state banned smoking in restaurants two years ago, with particular effect in the winter. The ability to sell drinks would make the venue more enticing to customers, keep them in seats longer and likely result in an increase in sales.
There aren't many cigar venues left in New England or elsewhere in the country where you can smoke and drink at the same time. In Manhattan, we have a few spots, and Boston has Cigar Masters. Many cities have their hidden gems, but you have to find them. For the cigar smokers of New Hampshire, however, this could change. And, if you believe that Dixville Notch chooses the president every four years, expect to see similar laws pop up in other states.
Gallery: Ichiro Suzuki in Issaquah