Category Archives: Billionaire

Does Gold’s Breakout Mean Silver Is On The Launchpad?

Gold and silver prices continue to push higher. They’re starting to get some attention from the mainstream, too. A new uptrend in gold is clearly underway, but silver’s performance has so far trailed gold’s. Let’s take a look at the price behavior over the past six-plus years of both metals to see if we can gain any insights about silver.

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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Report $135 Million in 2018 Income

In their second year of government service, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reported income from their companies and investments of as much as $135 million, according to their annual financial disclosure reports made public on Friday.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reported an income range of $29 million to $135 million for 2018, down from a range of $82 million to $222 million in 2017.CreditCreditToby Melville/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

All told, the couple’s real estate holdings and other investments were worth as much as $786 million, down slightly from 2017. Their total annual income was between $29 million and $135 million, a range that was lower than what they reported in 2017.

Mr. Kushner’s partial ownership of his family-run real estate business, Kushner Companies, has drawn criticism from ethics experts, particularly as the firm has solicited investments from foreign sources, including in the Middle East, where Mr. Kushner is a top White House liaison.

Although Mr. Kushner held on to the bulk of his stake in the company, which he once ran, he sold some of his assets to a trust controlled by his mother.

One of those divested assets was his share in Kushner Companies’ flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Last year, Kushner Companies struck a deal with Brookfield Asset Management for a roughly $1 billion bailout of the troubled property. Brookfield’s property arm is partly owned by the Qatari government.

Ms. Trump reported 2018 income totaling between $6.7 million and $10.7 million. She has resigned from her leadership roles at her fashion business and her family’s real estate and branding company since her father became president, but she retained stakes in some of those businesses.

Ms. Trump earned just under $4 million from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which has become a magnet for visiting executives and foreign officials with interests before the federal government.

Ms. Trump reported another portion of an advance from Penguin Random House, for her book “Women Who Work,” this time totaling $263,500. She also reported donating it to the Ivanka M. Trump Charitable Fund. In 2017, she received about $289,000 from that advance.

The couple’s total income was between $29 million and $135 million in 2018, compared with a range of $82 million to $222 million in 2017.

The drop was due, in part, to their divestment of several assets that previously generated tens of millions of dollars in income for the couple, including the stake in 666 Fifth Avenue.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Kushner apparently had paid almost no federal income taxes for several years running.

Source: by Jesse Drucker and Agustin Armendariz | The New York Times

How A Hijacked Listing For One Of Los Angeles’ Most Expensive Homes Led To A $60MM Lawsuit Against Zillow

() It’s hard to overstate the opulence showcased in developer Bruce Makowsky’s $150-million spec house, dubbed “Billionaire.” Perched above Bel Air, the four-story mansion offers a world of pure imagination within its walls.

A Bel-Air mansion built on speculation is at the center of a legal dispute after a Zillow listing for the $150-million home was hijacked by an unknown user. (Berlyn Photography)

Jockeying for attention across 38,000 square feet are 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, three kitchens, 130 artworks, a 40-seat movie theater, a $30-million fleet of exotic cars, two wine cellars stocked with Champagne, a four-lane bowling alley and a candy room filled with towering cylinders of sweets.

Image is everything when seeking nine figures for a single estate. What, then, happens when that image is allegedly tainted? That’s what a lawsuit filed by the self-assured, suede-jacket-wearing Makowsky against real estate company Zillow aims to find out.

Earlier this year, Zillow falsely showed that the mega-mansion sold for tens of millions less than its asking price. Makowsky sued for $60 million in damages, citing permanent harm to the property’s perception.

On April 19, Zillow filed to dismiss the suit, chiefly citing a section of the Communications Decency Act that protects web operators from being responsible for information published by its users. The hearing is set for June 24.

The sham began in February, when an unknown user with a Chinese IP address and fake phone number side-stepped Zillow’s security measures and toyed with the sale prices displayed on the mansion’s listing.

Zillow displays pages for roughly 110 million homes in the U.S., and it allows owners to go in and change information about their home when necessary. Usually, that means noting a recent remodel or added square footage that may affect a home’s value, but the feature also opens the door for false information.

On Feb. 4, Zillow showed that Makowsky’s home — which is on the market for $150 million — sold for $110 million. It never did. Over the course of the next week, the real estate site falsely reported sale prices of $90.54 million and $94.3 million, as well as a phantom open house that never took place.

Soon after, Makowsky’s attorney Ronald Richards pointed out the falsities to Zillow’s legal team in an email. After some back and forth, included in the lawsuit, Kim Nielson, senior lead counsel for Zillow Group, responded with this:

“Any home on our website can be claimed by the homeowner. There are a series of questions that must be answered, but if someone attempts to claim it enough times, they will know the questions asked (and be able to figure out what information they need to verify their identity).”

She added that not all claims are manually reviewed, which allowed the user to manipulate the listing details without proving their identity.

Later that month, a limited liability company owned by Makowsky filed the lawsuit seeking $60 million in damages. It claims that Zillow “admittedly published false information” and destroyed the property’s perception as an elite listing worth more than $100 million.

Makowsky himself has axed the price twice since bringing the spec house to market for $250 million two years ago. He most recently trimmed the tag to $150 million in January, saying that he was just trying to be realistic.

Makowsky made his fortune selling handbags on QVC before shifting to high-end real estate about eight years ago as the head of BAM Luxury Development Group. (Cindy Ord / Getty Images)

Taking aim at Zillow’s security process, the lawsuit alleges that Zillow has no safeguards in place to stop trolls or criminals from claiming a property and posting false information.

A spokeswoman for Zillow declined to comment on the pending litigation but stressed that it goes to great lengths to display current and accurate data on its website, which is largely sourced from public records.

The complaint also stresses Zillow’s market power. The website leads the real estate industry with an estimated 36 million unique monthly visitors, and Makowsky said multiple colleagues called to congratulate him on a sale that never happened.

But of those millions of monthly visitors to Zillow, few are searching for homes priced in the nine figures other than for aspirational reasons. Fewer have the actual means to afford it.

Only a handful of local L.A. residents, and a small market outside of that, have the ability to buy homes listed for north of $100 million. As of 2017, there were 680 billionaires in the U.S, according to the research firm Wealth-X, and about 2,750 worldwide.

Jerry Jolton, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, said three things need to come together to sell a home in the $100-million arena: luck, timing and the right client.

“We’re dealing with a very exclusive group of people who’ve attained such wealth,” he said.

Oftentimes, developers eye international wealth when floating a nine-digit listing. However, Jolton said foreign buyers account for only around 21% of L.A.-area homes sales over $20 million.

Beyond visitors to online listing services, Makowsky faces another challenge in his pursuit of a high-dollar deal: comparable sales in the tony Westside area.

Michael Sahakian, also with Coldwell Banker, sold the property that now holds Makowsky’s mansion back in the ’90s. While noting the estate’s opulence, he said its placement in East Gate Bel Air — one of the city’s most exclusive and pricey pockets — will make selling it a challenge.

Most homes there sell for around $2,000 to $3,000 per square foot. For context, Makowsky’s estate is on the market for $3,947 per square foot.

Still, because an acre of East Gate goes for around $20 million, it’s rare for a home larger than 30,000 square feet to go up for sale.

Makowsky, in his early 60s, made his fortune selling handbags on QVC before shifting to high-end real estate about eight years ago as the head of BAM Luxury Development Group.

His development brand is largely a reflection of his own extravagant interests and tastes; many of the lavish furnishings, finishes and other accouterments incorporated into his projects are sourced from his travels around the world. Custom furnishings produced by high-end brands such as Fendi, Bentley and Louis Vuitton often play an integral role in his homes.

Among his notable projects was a testosterone-infused showplace in Beverly Hills that featured a $200,000 sculpture of a giant blue hand grenade and a replica of James Dean’s motorcycle. Originally listed at $85 million, the 23,000-square-foot house sold in 2014 to Minecraft creator Markus Persson for $70 million.

Source:

Wealth Of Top 1% Surpasses $100 Trillion: More Than Global GDP And All Central Bank Balance Sheets

Back in March, when looking at the latest political wave sweeping across Europe, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid wrote a report which observed that “it’s hard to get away from the fact that populism is currently going through an explosion in support at present” of which today’s vote of no confidence of Swedish prime minister Lofven was just the latest example. DB focused on Europe, as shown in the following chart, and noted that high double-digit youth unemployment has become a hotbed for anti-establishment sentiment, which has everything to do with the economy, and lack of opportunities.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/populism%20db.jpg

The German bank then warned that the “liberal world order” is in jeopardy, and concluded rather ominously:

As of now the rise in populism hasn’t yet destabilised markets however we find it difficult to get away from the fact that uncertainty levels are bound to remain high while such power brokers remain in major elections. Indeed the unpredictability of  Trump’s policies is such an example, with the recent tariff threats which have subsequently escalated market concerns about a trade war being one. At a time when global central banks are moving towards an unprecedented era of tightening and dealing with years of massive asset purchases, risks from rising populist support has the ability to seriously disturb the prevailing equilibrium of the last few years and subsequently markets.

Fast forward to today, when Bank of America strategist Barnaby Martin tackles the thorny issue of ascendant populism, which he attributes to the “lost decade” following Lehman’s collapse and what he dubs the “era of hubris” – a time when the richest 1% has seen its collective wealth surpass $100 trillion.

Martin begins by reminding us that a decade ago, “the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent shock waves through financial markets” to which the response was an unprecedented amount of central bank support, both in terms of its size and creativity.

And as we have observed on countless occasions, with central banks as a tailwind, financial markets have outperformed real assets over the last decade. Even so, the dichotomy in many cases is staggering:

Note that the cumulative total return on ICE BofAML’s Global Broad Market bond index since ‘08 is 50%…yet the growth in house prices globally over this time has been just a miniscule 1%.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/wealth1.jpg?itok=Wotf47FS

Simply said, the last decade has seen those who hold financial assets become richer, as markets have lurched higher; meanwhile those without such assets – the vast majority of the middle class – have been increasingly left behind, however, even as wage growth remained stagnant and indebted governments have struggled to provide strong social support. As a result, a great wave of populism emerged as “issues such as wealth and income inequality have started to polarize societies much more.”

The next chart shows in staggering fashion just how “rich” the rich are today, especially when compared to some other big numbers and markets. According to BofA estimates the wealth of the top 1% globally has surpassed $100tr now…a number greater than the sum of the big-4 central bank balance sheets, current world GDP and the cost of the ‘07/’08 global financial crisis, for instance.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/wealth2.jpg?itok=w_K7x8xk

The great divide between the haves and the have nots has manifested itself not only in terms of accumulated wealth, but income as well, as the wealthy have had greater income-generating opportunities at their disposal, mostly due to access to better technology and education. It is therefore mostly the wealthy that have been able to reap the benefits of globalization, and perhaps the reason why the “not so wealthy” have been eager to tear apart the globalist system, and willing to listen, follow and vote for any populist leader who promises that.

Meanwhile, the top 1% richest in the world have witnessed impressive income growth since 1980 – in many cases, multiples of that seen by the less well-off in society. Also notice what Martin calls the “hollowing out” of the middle class over this period – where income growth has been the weakest- as “many have simply found their jobs replaced by either highly-skilled or low-skilled workers.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/wealth3.jpg?itok=XOdApfX7

Which brings us back to the core topic: the rise of social discontent, manifesting itself in growing populism. Observing the growing wealth and income inequality, Martin writes that these have been “important factors (albeit not the only ones) contributing to the rise in voters’ frustrations and resentment across the world.”

The result, as Deutsche Bank showed back in March, has been for the electorate to increasingly embrace “populist” or “anti-establishment” parties in hope of better times…and to shun mainstream left or right institutions.

As the next chart shows, the growth of populist voter tendencies has been clear since the late ‘80s, with the trend increasing in the post-GFC era. 

There are few signs as yet of it fizzling out. At the end of 2017, ten governments in Europe included one or more authoritarian populist parties, according to Timbro. Average voter support for far left populist parties has also notably risen since 2011.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/populist%20parties%20vote.jpg?itok=RzSfeqW3

In his conclusion, Martin echoes DB’s Reid, saying that “the continued rise in income and wealth inequality globally suggests that populism is here to stay” and yet it remains to be seen how effective it will be at tackling inequality and placating voter frustrations.

Meanwhile, even economies that have witnessed strong growth in recent times have struggled to generate “inclusive growth” instead becoming the world’s new breeding grounds of pervasive inequality. As the next chart shows, income inequality in China has jumped dramatically since 1990 despite very strong economic momentum.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/china%20inquality.jpg?itok=bAEzzulj

What is ironic, is that since 2008, the Chinese government – which is terrified of a middle-class revolt – has introduced measures specifically aimed at reducing inequality. But as chart 4 highlights, while this has slowed the rise in income inequality in China, as yet it has not meaningfully reduced it. Will China be ground zero of the next social revolution as the people decide their “communist” leaders have betrayed them and take matters into their own hands.

Source: ZeroHedge

US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Lists Park Ave. Apartment For $33 Million, Three Times What He Paid For It

No sooner did we report that the housing “recovery” over the last 10 years has skipped many “underwater” communities in the United States, than we found confirmation of the opposite: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is selling his Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan for three times the price that his aunt paid for it 18 years ago. He has listed the apartment for $32.5 million. His Aunt is listed as the broker on the sale.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu1_0.jpg?itok=lnYFX1us

The sale is happening at the same time that residents of numerous commuter towns across the United States have seen the values of their houses collapse to less than half of what they were in 2006, prior to the housing crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/reuters%201_0.jpg

Mnuchin recently listed the 6500 square-foot, 12 room apartment that he bought from his aunt in 2000. It was purchased then for just $10.5 million. It had been in his family since the 1960s and, when he turns around to list the property this time, he stands to net $22 million more than what he paid for it, if his asking price is met.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu3_0.jpg?itok=4EUYT0Mq

The apartment is being listed by Warburg Realty and is located inside of 740 Park Ave., inside the historic Rosario Candela building. Other famous former tenants of this building include the Rockefellers and the Kochs. Currently, Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone Group, lives there. The building was developed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu4_0.jpg?itok=TopA2YDH

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu5_0.jpg?itok=3p1pygwf

Other than that, it’s just your average ordinary run of the mill apartment on Park Avenue: five bedrooms, a wall wood paneled library, a wet bar, a formal dining room, a private elevator, 11 foot ceilings, marble floors and a sweeping spiraling staircase that still has its original banister.

The first floor of the apartment has six bathrooms and an 800 square-foot living room.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu8_0.jpg?itok=51SeH33K

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu9_0.jpg?itok=ZYPpvXPo

Upstairs, the apartment has a master suite, walk-in cupboards, study, two more bathrooms and three extra bedrooms. The apartment spans two levels in the building on both the eighth and the ninth floor and it also has a large kitchen with a “breakfast nook”.

While that all seems extremely glamorous, Mnuchin hasn’t even used this apartment as his main residence, reportedly. Mnuchin was living in California before his appointment to the Trump administration, but has since bought a $12.6 million apartment in Washington DC.

We’re glad to hear that Mnuchin was able to ride out the housing crisis successfully. We were worried about him for a moment.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/mnu11_0.jpg?itok=tqTdqWfS

Source: ZeroHedge

Amazon Tops Trillion-Dollar Market Cap, Bezos Extends Lead As World’s Richest Man

Jeff Bezos was already the richest man in world history, but thanks to the surge in Amazon’s share price today – becoming the third company in history to top $1 trillion market capitalization (after Apple and PetroChina) – his net worth is up almost $70 billion in 2018, nearing $170 billion.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/jeff-bezos.jpeg?itok=5v0_75dD

After a brief dip on its earnings, Amazon has not looked back, surging above the key $2050.27 briefly ($2050.50 highs) to become another trillion-dollar market cap company…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-09-04_8-39-46.jpg?itok=7eAuQkZ9

Amazon reached this milestone almost exactly one month after Apple. Next up – Microsoft or Alphabet?

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-09-04_8-37-27.jpg?itok=rLny3RFV

Do not worry though – Amazon is not a bubble!

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-09-04_8-31-10.jpg?itok=Ncw8mTOS

Interestingly, few remember that Apple was not the first company globally to ever hit $1 trillion in market capitalization.

The feat was achieved momentarily by PetroChina in 2007, after a successful debut on the Shanghai Stock Exchange that same year.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/market-cap-petrochina.jpg

And as we noted previously, the $800 billion loss it experienced shortly after is also the largest the world has ever seen.

* * *

This pushes Bezos’ dominance of the global wealth leagues even higher…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-09-04_8-34-40.jpg?itok=yrTJazl7

Source: ZeroHedge

Out-Of-Warranty Tesla Owners Left With No Better Choice Than Fix Their Own Cars

Due to a lack of reputable mechanics, widespread service centers and aftermarket parts, some out of warranty Tesla owners are left with no choice but to try and fix their cars themselves. Such was the case of Model S owner Greg Furstenwerth, a self described “Tesla fan”. CNBC detailed his journey through repairing his own out of warranty Tesla when the company “treated him like [he] didn’t own a Tesla” after his warranty ran out.

Furstenwerth was one of the first Model S owners, pre-ordering in 2013. He was even one of the first in the state of Hawaii to own a Tesla. Like some fans of the company have done after buying their Teslas, he even undertook a cross-country journey to prove that the world did not need gas powered vehicles and that there was nothing to be anxious about regarding the vehicle’s range capabilities.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/tsla%2011_0.jpg?itok=119Woivi

“Those were the golden years”, according to Furstenwerth. While the Model S was under warranty, he shared his experience in dealing with Tesla service, which was positive. The interactions with the company were plentiful.

“Tesla used to call me,” he told CNBC. “They’d tell me, ‘hey we noticed that there’s something going wrong with your car.’ Or when I had my flat they did their courtesy roadside service. They really took care of me, actually, as an original pre-order.”

But when the warranty ran out, so did the personal attention: “…as soon as I exceeded my warranty, the interactions all went away. I was treated like I didn’t really own a Tesla,” he told CNBC. 

Because he was one of the first to have faith and purchase a Model S, he is now being “rewarded” by being one of the firsts who will need to get repairs done to his Tesla while it is not covered under warranty. The number of customers that are falling out of warranty, like Greg, will increase in coming years.

Greg claims that after he fell out of warranty and needed repairs, the company would not offer him a loaner car or a mobile mechanic to help him when he needed to find a service center outside of Seattle, where he lived.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/fix_0.jpg?itok=OzwymnK3

His next quest was to try and find independent mechanics, but he soon found out that there were very few who were willing and able to work on the Model S. He found out along the way that there are only a few mechanics who can fix the Model S, and they generally do it by buying scrap Model S cars and salvaging parts or reverse engineering parts using 3D printers.

This is apparently because Tesla doesn’t make spare parts, diagnostic tools or repair manuals readily available to people trying to perform service on their cars. And due to the modest size of the car fleet, there is also a surprisingly small aftermarket for Tesla parts.

So Furstenwerth was forced to take it upon himself to figure out how to fix his car on his own.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/tsla%20B_0.jpg?itok=WnYC7zoK

He learned by “taking it apart and putting it together several times” while at the same time visiting online forums that offered suggestions. He was able to find some parts online, but it was tedious work trying to track them down individually. Among his problems since 2013 have been “leaking tail lights, failing door handles, a passenger window behind the driver that fell out of place and faulty wiring in his driver’s side door,” according to the article.

The process was so painful for him that at one point he even “considered destroying the car”.

The original article includes video showing Furstenwerth disassembling and reassembling his own Model S. 

In terms of quality, Furstenworth claims that when he finally got his Tesla open, it was built like a “lego car” and that disassembling and reassembling it was “like putting together legos [and] taking apart legos”.

“If you can put together Legos you can put together a Tesla Model S,” he told CNBC. 

After resorting to having to fix his own car, Greg, like many other loyal Tesla fans, isn’t getting mad at the company. Instead, he is trying to help other Model S owners learn how to fix their own cars, too. Despite this, he has some advice for the company:

“I want to see Tesla wildly succeed,” he says. “I have no problem with them being vertically integrated, and running things the way they do for cars that are in warranty. But if they want to get in the mass market, unless they’re gonna run every single service center in every single small town, there’s no way it’s acceptable to have people for minor issues drive and kill an entire day to go to the service center, just for some free Keurig coffee.”

We can imagine that the reaction of other Tesla owners who aren’t such vehement fans, will be far less supportive.

Source: ZeroHedge