Stock investor pleads guilty to insider-trading charge, movie made
Mar 2011 20

Barry Minkow was just a kid when he started what morphed into a company with a $280 million valuation by the time he turned 20 years old. He was the founder of ZZZZ Best carpet cleaners and spent five years making it into a nationally-known giant in the field.

It was not your traditional “rags to riches” story, however. Turns out, he was running a very successful Ponzi scheme, using money invested by some to pay off others. Days before ZZZZ Best was to merge with KeyServ, a national services company, the walls came down and his scam was uncovered.

He was forced to resign and then faced charges in court that led to a 25-year sentence. He spent seven years in prison. During his stay, he “found Jesus” and converted to Christianity. Upon release, he worked as a pastor in a church.

But, it wasn’t your traditional “rags to riches to rags with redemption” story. Turns out, he got himself involved in another scheme, this one to use insider-knowledge of companies in order to short their stocks, incluidng Lennar, the mega-company that has built hundreds of thousands of new homes during the past decade.

The Feds caught on and this week he plead guilty to a single charge of insider trading. He could spend the next five years in prison.

Mr. Minkow certainly kept himself busy over the years. He even had time to write a movie about his life, titled, naturally, “Minkow”.

Unfortunately, the movie was finished prior to the uncovering of his latest schemes. The movie’s budget is estimated at $4 million.

I guess they can fix it in the editing room.

In my opinion, the wooden acting in this movie is as much a crime as cheating people out of their money.

See if you can catch all the major movie stars in this preview. I found Academy Award winner James Caan (who, ironically, shows up on screen whenever a character uses the word, “con”, two-time Academy Award nominee Talia Shire, Star Wars pretty boy Mark Hamill, Mission Impossible star Emmy Award winner Ving Rhames, Emmy Award winner Armand Assante, and Melissa Ordway, among others.

More: Plea Deal Puts Mindow Redemption Movie in Limbo – Robboe Whelan, Wall Street Journal

Boston condo prices flat in latest S&P / Case-Shiller index
Feb 2011 24

Boston condo values remained about the same as the previous month, according to the latest S&P / Case-Shiller Home/Condo Price Index.

The index measures the current value of condominiums in the Boston metropolitan area – it does not measure value within the city itself. Another caveat is that it uses a unique way to compare values. They pair up condos, using the same properties in 2000 and current day. So, there are some important weaknesses in their analysis. But, since the index is as good a way as any to get an idea of the state of the local real estate market, it does have some value.

The S&P / Case-Shiller Home Index estimates that condominium values are 58.35% higher than they were in January 2000. The value has been about the same for the past four months and equals the value of last November/December.

Boston-area values reached their zenith in October 2005 when they were estimated to have increased over 80% since the millennium.

SOLD! Back Bay single-family home sale has that new car smell
Jan 2011 26

It took a bit of time and a couple of significant price cuts, but an amazing Back Bay single-family townhouse has finally been sold.

The property is located at 128 Commonwealth Avenue. Previously a set of individual condos, it was lovingly restored inside to its historic grandeur. The seller is listed in the public record as Herb Chambers, the car-magnate.

A prominent and historic Commonwealth Avenue mansion, between Clarendon and Dartmouth streets, it is a rare and unique Beaux Arts style single-family residence. An extensive two year renovation brought this historic and grand home back to its original splendor.

The property first came on the market in January 2007. As to be expected for a property of this size and quality, it took quite awhile to find the “one” buyer (a local portfolio manager and minority owner in an investment firm). It was priced at a significantly higher price but was adjusted to a price more in line with the market.

According to the broker’s website, the listing agent was Beth Dickerson, of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

From that site: 128 Commonwealth Ave (more photos and description, there):

Originally designed by famous Boston architect S.D Kelley in 1882, the ornate sandstone façade designed in the Parisian inspired “Ecoles des Beaux-Arts” style was added to both 128 Commonwealth Ave and 130 Commonwealth Ave during a circa 1905 renovation by architect Arthur Bowditch. This Neoclassical Baroque style is one rarely seen in Boston architecture and is a unique feature that establishes 128 Commonwealth Avenue as an exceptional and iconic Boston property.

Additional luxuries of this exclusive property include: – Au pair suite with private entrance onto Commonwealth Avenue – Boston Proper’s finest location – Handsome wood paneled elevator and grand wrapping stairwell connect floors – “No detail overlooked” renovation completed in 2005 – Rich use of exotic materials including onyx and gold leaf – Hand crafted woodwork and built-ins – Hand painted details – Fourteen foot coffered ceilings – Hand made La Cornue range – Butler’s Pantry – Three private decks – Security system – One touch lighting system – Surround sound system – Additional dry storage – Two heated garaged parking spaces – Three heated outdoor parking spaces.

Dec 2009 24

Brookline, welcome your newest residents Patriots QB Tom Brady and his wife and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The couple has put an 11-room gated antique mansion located off of Route 9 in Brookline under agreement with plans of a March closing date.

The new digs, a renovated circa-1850 home on three acres of the old Gardner estate, has four bedrooms, five bathrooms, seven fireplaces (Santa will have his pick!), a luxury kitchen, multiple porches, a deck, and a 40-by-20 Gunite pool. The seller purchased the property for $1.9 million and spent a large sum renovating the home. The couple were also thrilled that the location of the home is close to the school where their newborn son Benjamin will eventually attend school.

Gisele recently sold her Manhattan townhouse for a whopping $13.5 million…good news for the couple since the 2010 tax bill on the new Brookline home is $80,000.

Brady’s Back Bay penthouse remains on the market for sale at an asking price of $10.9M. The price per square foot is a little over $2,000 whereas comparable luxury Back Bay homes have been selling around $950-1,000 per square foot. My thoughts, and just an obvious observation – the pricing needs to come down.

Nov 2006 10

Manny Ramirez’s Ritz-Carlton penthouse is on the market for $6.9 million but if high-rise living isn’t your style, you can pick up a Beacon Hill single family home for $18,500,000 that provides you with 9500 sq. ft. of luxurious Boston living.  For some, these homes are only dreams, yet for others, they are about as luxurious as a college dorm.

The type of places the uber-wealthy look to rest their feet are homes unlike any other in the world.  These types of places make Cinderella’s castle look like a starter home.  I’m talking about the $100m+ category.




Leading that category is Updown Court in England.  This home features 103 rooms, five swimming pools, and 24-carot leafing on the study’s floor.  There’s a squash court, bowling alley, tennis court, 50-seat screening room, heated marble driveway and helipad. All eight of your limousines will fit in the underground garage. Then there are the neighbors, who include the queen (at Windsor Castle) and Elton John.

And you get all of this at a bargain basement price of $122.2m!!  What a steal!!

So, if any of you multi-billionaires out there who read this blog are interested, please call me, I’d be happy to help!