Heh. Naked short selling. Sounds like something a frat boy would do, right? Well … it sort of is. Read all about the SEC's bold move to crack down on market manipulators and more, in our daily roundup of finance, media, law, and real-estate news.
How DO you fit five bedrooms, three maids rooms, six bathrooms, six terraces, a library, a sitting room, a dining room, several walk-in closets, and a private gallery all in one apartment? We know you were wondering...
In further proof that the Brooke Astor will debacle is the ultimate high-low glamour contest of the year, news surfaces today of a charming little related anecdote from overseas. The Post tells us the story of Lia Opris, Brooke's former maid, who is one of the only witnesses to the signing of two late codicils to her will (ones that favor her son, Anthony Marshall, heavily). Since the legitimacy of these codicils is contested, her testimony is very important. So important that a year ago, while she was recuperating from a car accident in her hometown in Romania, lawyers working for Marshall arranged to have someone visit her house to get her on the phone. That someone was Romanian prince Paul Philip. The ploy didn't work, but he tried again, this time bringing his wife, Princess Lia. The tab described it as "something akin to a work-a-day crime-scene witness opening her door somewhere in the United States and finding President and Laura Bush standing there, begging a small tactical favor," but let's be honest: It would be more like if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie showed up. It's kind of a romantic story, actually. So romantic, in fact, that the Post waxed all fairy tale on our asses:
There was no word if the prince was wearing his crown at the time — or on a subsequent occasion, when he returned to her door, his wife, Princess Lia, at his side. Told that Opris was at her sister's house, the royal pair hence proceeded thither. Again, the maid demurred.
"Thither"? "Hence"? We wonder what kind of words the Post would use if they wrote a story about us? Probably something along the lines of "fagatron" and "twatermelon."
Battle 'Royal' [NYP]
• Despite Roger Ailes's declaration that Fox Business Channel would start a “revolution” against rival business channel CNBC, this war appears to have petered out after a skirmish: Only about 6,300 people a day, on average, watch the babes of FBN, compared to the 283,000 who tune in to CNBC for that dreamy hunk Charlie Gasparino. [NYT]
• Let the stunts begin! David Letterman plans to shave off his beard on the air next Monday: "Can we get a guy in here Monday to shave me? Now, a good guy, because the last time we did this, I looked like—when he was done, I looked like I'd been in a knife fight." No word yet on whether Conan O'Brien, who's writers unlike Letterman's are still on strike, will lose his whiskers. Meanwhile, Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel turned down Colbert's invite to appear on his show, showing solidarity with the strikers. [NYDN, NYO]
• The Writers Guild is facing its own little labor problem: The East Coast branch's internal staff claims that the contract they signed back in October was later changed without their permission. Let's see, what's that word … something writers always love. Oh, right, irony. [NYP]
Recently, we were watching John Waters's 1998 movie Pecker, which starred all kinds of great people like Martha Plimpton and Lily Taylor and Edward Furlong, before he got weird and started getting arrested and dating his manager. Anyway, as in all John Waters movies, there were about five really brilliantly funny parts in it, one of which was a game the characters played called "Shopping for Others," in which they'd go to the supermarket and sneak things into the shopping carts of fellow shoppers when they weren't looking. (Like a long phallic gourd in the cart of a mousy single woman or a stack of Depends for a smarmy dude in tight jeans, etc.) Anyway, we got to thinking: How about if, this year, we make New Year's resolutions for others? We've never made New Year's resolutions ourselves — it's weird, every year New Year's Eve rolls around, and we realize we're still kind of perfect! — but we've always felt we were missing out on that great American tradition. Not to mention, frankly, there are people that could use our assistance. So. To celebrate the great New Yorkers who make this blog possible and to help them continue their gloriousness into 2008, we've generously ginned up some resolutions for their benefit.
Oh, no, she didn't! Charlene Marshall, the wife of Brooke Astor's son Anthony Marshall, who was recently indicted for looting his late mother's estate, showed up all huffy at an Upper West Side Barnes & Noble Monday night, where author Frances Keirnan, was reading from her book The Last Mrs. Astor: A New York Story, a biography about the grande dame's life and philanthropy that touches on the recent scandal. During the Q&A session, a witness told "Page Six," Marshall caused a scene by confronting the author about her reporting. She was "waving her hand furiously," the witness said. "It was such bad form on her part." Still, the source notes, "She looked good. She's lost weight and had her hair done." There's nothing like having your entire world fall apart to bring a flush to your cheeks and help you lose that extra five pounds!
The dogs! Brooke's dogs! Somehow the treatment of beloved Brooke Astor's beloved dogs is now a barometer of the meanness of her son, Tony Marshall, recently indicted for "swindling" his mom out of millions. "He killed the dogs!" one of Brooke's friends gasped in horror. Of course, Tony didn't kill the dogs. But in the Dickensian tropes that envelope this scandal — he fed his own mother gruel, Tony's son charged — Tony has become Fagin. Every meanness is credited. He wanted to put the dogs to sleep, said the Daily News, quoting an anonymous source. In her last days, he wouldn't let his mother see her dogs, Tony's son charged. All this is, of course, contrasted with Annette de la Renta's loving consideration of the dogs. De la Renta, who became Brooke's legal guardian in the end, is the dog rescuer. She's got mutts; they roam her apartment. She invited dogs to her daughter's wedding. She even bought Brooke one of her dachshunds.
The charges against Anthony Marshall and his lawyer, Francis Morrissey, were revealed today, and they ain't pretty. The accusations include the following:
• They tricked Marshall's mother, Brooke Astor, into thinking that she was broke and needed to sell her favorite painting so Marshall could get a $2 million commission.
• They conspired to increase Marshall's salary (without Astor's knowledge) from $450,000 a year to $1.4 million a year, and used much of that money to buy himself a second yacht.
• Marshall used his mother's money to hire a captain for the yacht at $52,000 a year.
Anthony Marshall and his lawyer and business partner, Francis Morrissey, have been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges relating to suspicious handling of the will of Brooke Astor, Marshall's late mother. Since September, jurors and prosecutors have been hearing from witnesses scrutinizing the signature on a disputed third codicil to Astor's will, and debating the care which Marshall provided her in her final years. Marshall declined to comment to the Times or any other papers in the matter, but he is expected to turn himself over to authorities this morning. Click below to read the only in-depth interview with Marshall and his wife, Charlene, on the subject (and an explanation of Morrissey's controversial role), in Steve Fishman's New York story published earlier this month.
Mrs. Astor's Baby [NYM]
Son of Astor is Said to Face Criminal Charges [NYT]
Related:Daily Intel's complete coverage of the Astor will controversyUpdate:Marshall turned himself in this morning, and it turned out the charges were fraud, forgery and grand larceny.
Name: Cathie Black Age: 63 Job: President of Hearst Magazines, author of Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life), out today!
Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Osso buco at Babbo, and lobster at the Palm.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Run interference, badger, cajole, laugh, have fun, set a higher bar, push for profit, encourage creativity, ask for forgiveness, make my own rules, thank everyone.