Off the Wires

The sorry fate of tech pioneer Halsey Minor and historic Virginia estate Carter’s Grove

June 4th, 2012  |  Source: Washington Post


It was reputed to be America’s loveliest Colonial­-era plantation house, a jewel of Georgian architecture. Its interiors, with opulent walnut and yellow pine paneling, parquetry and grand staircase — the work of a master joiner summoned to Colonial Virginia from England — are lauded in its National Historic Landmark paperwork as the most beautiful in the South.

For the better part of three centuries, Carter’s Grove rested serenely on the northern bank of the James River. It was built in 1750 by Carter Burwell, grandson of Robert “King” Carter, the English colony’s early land baron, to awe visitors with physical evidence of the bountiful riches that could be wrung from the New World wilderness.

Before the house, the land was the site of Martin’s Hundred plantation and Wolstenholme Towne, an ill-fated English settlement founded in 1620, just a few years after the establishment of Jamestown five miles upriver. Wolstenholme was destroyed during a native Powhatan massacre of English settlers in 1622.

But Carter’s Grove had better luck. For 260 years, it steadfastly survived looting, flood, hurricane, earthquake, a Hollywood crew filming a now-forgotten Cary Grant movie, and a marauding Revolutionary War colonel who billeted his Redcoats there and, legend has it, rode a horse up the main staircase, hacking the grand railing with his sword along the way. A 1928 renovation diminished the Palladian perfection of its exterior, but still, it endured.

Carter’s Grove may have finally met its ruin, however, in the unlikely form of Halsey Minor, a brash 40-something technology investor living in San Francisco.

For the full story, go to:

Tintin Cover Fetches $1.6M

June 3rd, 2012  |  Source: Daily Beast

A rare original Tintin in America cover set a record price on a Paris auction block Saturday, netting $1.6 million.

Drawn by the creator of Tintin, it’s not the first time this piece has set comic book records – the same cover established the record in 2008 when it went for just under $1 million.

The piece was reportedly bought by a private collector, and is one of five original Tintin covers known to be in existence. “If he’d have been able to get it for less I think he would have been happy,” the friend who represented the anonymous buyer at the auction told reporters. The friend would give his name only as Didier. “The aim was not to beat a record; the aim was to obtain the work, before anything else.”

Read it at The Hollywood Reporter

Ferrari GTO Becomes Most Expensive Car At $35 Million

June 1st, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg

A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO made for race driver Stirling Moss has become the world’s most expensive car, selling in a private transaction last month for $35 million.

The distinctive apple-green Ferrari, one of 39 GTOs produced from 1962 to 1964, is listed among May’s high-end sales at, a website for classic car dealers. Two specialist traders last night independently confirmed the transaction and price to Bloomberg News.


The car was sold with the last two weeks by the Dutch-born businessman Eric Heerema, owner of the Nyetimber vineyard in Sussex, southern England. The buyer is U.S.-based classic car collector Craig McCaw, the dealers said. Heerema was not available for comment when Nyetimber was contacted by Bloomberg News. McCaw was also unavailable for comment when his company Eagle River Investments was telephoned.

“The market is very active at the moment,” said James Cottingham, acquisition consultant for Ferrari dealer DK Engineering, based in Hertfordshire, U.K. “A lot of new buyers are expanding their collections and the baby-boomer generation of collectors has reached an age when they’re not using their cars as much as they used to. They want to sell.”

McCaw, who is based in the Seattle area, was the co-founder of McCaw Cellular, which was acquired by AT&T for $11.5 billion in 1993.

Facebook Seen Dropping 20% To Gain Parity With Nasdaq Rivals

May 30th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


Facebook would have to drop another 20 percent for its valuation to match other companies that do business over the Internet.

Facebook, with a market capitalization of $79.1 billion, is trading at 29.5 times the company’s projected 2014 profit of $2.69 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The stock would have to dive to $23.07 to match the average price-to-earnings ratio for the Nasdaq Internet Index based on estimated earnings in the next 12 months, according to the data.

Apple’s Cook Skips $75 Million Dividend Distribution — Without Explanation

May 25th, 2012  |  Source:

Tim Cook, Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO, must think the hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation he has earned since taking the chief executive position is enough. He will forgo dividend payments Apple gives to employees with restricted stock that has not vested, under a program recently announced by the world’s most valuable company.

In an 8K, the firm said:

The amendments provide that if the Company pays an ordinary cash dividend on its common stock, each award will be credited with an amount equal to the per-share cash dividend paid by the Company, multiplied by the total number of restricted stock units subject to the award that are outstanding immediately prior to the record date for such dividend.

Cook is not stupid, so he must be generous. Or he wants the company’s employees and investors to think that he, like everyone else in management, is only worth so much.

Read more: Apple’s Cook Skips $75 Million Dividend Distribution — Without Explanation - 24/7 Wall St.

Facebook shares sink below $38 IPO price

May 21st, 2012  |  Source: NY Post

Facebook's stock is tumbling well below its $38 IPO price in the social network's second day of trading as a public company on Monday.

By early afternoon, the stock was at $34.04, down 11 percent from Friday's closing price of $38.23.

Investors and technology industry watchers are closely tracking the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company's shares. Facebook's initial public stock offering was one of the most anticipated ever, and now serves as a bellwether for other social media companies.

"There must have been some sober second thoughts about this," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group who was first to come out with a "Sell" rating on Facebook's stock on Friday.

It's not that he thinks the world's largest online social network is a bad investment. But at $38 per share, it's just too expensive considering the risks associated with Facebook's brief history and unproven advertising model, he says. His fair price, or "target price," is $30.

To be fair, Facebook's market debut Friday suffered some hiccups. Trading on the Nasdaq was delayed for a half hour due to issues with traders' orders. The stock closed Friday just a few cents above where it priced Thursday night. Although many investors had hoped for a big first-day pop, Facebook's stock opened Friday at $42.05 and fluctuated between $45 and $38 throughout the day before closing at $38.23.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who came out with an "Outperform" rating on Facebook before its IPO, said he thinks the investment banks that arranged the offering overestimated demand for the company's stock. Last week, the bankers, led by Morgan Stanley, increased the offering price range. On Wednesday, Facebook's early investors and other stockholders increased the number of shares they planned to sell in the IPO. Both moves appeared to signal strong demand for the shares.

"The late addition of 84 million shares to the offering overwhelmed demand, limiting the first day price," Pachter said in a note to investors.

On Monday, Facebook Inc.'s stock fell $4.19 to $34.04 in early afternoon trading. The stock dropped as low as $33 earlier.

Shares of some related social media companies also declined Monday. Zynga Inc., which makes FarmVille, CityVille and Mafia Wars, and gets the bulk of its revenue from Facebook users, fell 4 percent to $6.87. The stock hit as low as $6.36, its lowest level since the San Francisco company's December IPO. LinkedIn Corp., a network for professionals, dropped 2 percent to $96.97.

U.S. Stocks Trim Gains As Nasdaq Experiences Delay In Facebook

May 18th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


U.S. stocks trimmed gains as Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said it is experiencing a delay in opening shares of Facebook Inc. (FB) following its record initial public offering.

Facebook Nearly Breaks IPO Price, Pulls Back to $38

The Beau Sancy Diamond

May 14th, 2012  |  Source: Bloomberg


Weighing 34.98 carats, the modified pear double rose-cut stone was worn by Marie de Medici in her crown at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henri IV of France in 1610.

It will be offered at auction by Sotheby's Geneva on May 15.

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Edvard Munch's The Scream sold for $120m

May 3rd, 2012  |  Source: BBC

Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch's The Scream has become the most expensive artwork sold at auction, after it fetched $119.9m (£74m).

The 1895 pastel was bought by an anonymous buyer at Sotheby's in New York. Bidding lasted 12 minutes.

The work is one of four in a series by the Norwegian expressionist artist and was the only one still owned privately.

Proceeds of the sale are to go towards founding a new museum, hotel and art centre in Norway.

Seven bidders were competing for the work, which had a starting price of $40m. The crowd broke into applause, following the sale on Wednesday.

Norwegian day traders cleared of wrongdoing

May 2nd, 2012  |  Source:

Two Norwegian day traders who outwitted the automated trading system of a big US broker and became local heroes have been cleared of all wrongdoing by the country’s highest court.

Svend Egil Larsen and Peder Veiby were handed suspended prison sentences for market manipulation in 2010 after they worked out how the computerised system would react to certain trading patterns – allowing them to influence the price of low-volume stocks.

The two men appealed and the case has over the past last two years worked itself up to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday they were found not guilty, by the narrowest margin of three votes to two, in the final chapter of a widely followed case.

“I am pleased that the case is finished,” Mr Larsen told local paper Dagens Næringsliv, adding that this was the most nervous he had been in any part of the appeal process over the years.

Supreme Court justice Bergljot Webster explained the not guilty verdict, saying that while the defendants did use the system to their advantage, they did so with full transparency which “would indicate that the ... actions should not be punished.”


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