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Martha Helen Stewart (née Kostyra; born August 3, 1941) is an American business magnate, television host, author and magazine publisher. As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has gained success through a variety of business ventures, encompassing publishing, broadcasting, and merchandising. Stewart's syndicated talk show, Martha, is broadcast throughout the world, she has written numerous bestselling books, and she is the publisher of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

In 2001, Stewart was named the third most powerful woman in America by Ladies Home Journal. In 2004, she was convicted of lying to investigators about a stock sale and served five months in prison. Stewart began a comeback campaign in 2005, with her company returning to profitability in 2006.

Biography

Martha Stewart was born in Jersey City, New Jerseymarker to middle-class Polish-American parents Edward "Eddie" Kostyra (c. 1912 – 1979) and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra (b. Buffalo, New Yorkmarker, September 16, 1914 – d. Norwalk, Connecticutmarker, November 16, 2007). She lived in Jersey City until the age of 3, when her family moved to Nutley, New Jerseymarker . She was raised in Nutley along with her five siblings . Stewart graduated from Nutley High Schoolmarker in her hometown .

Her family instilled in her a strong passion for activities in the home. Stewart's mother taught her how to cook and sew. Later, she learned the processes of canning and preserving when she visited her grandparents' home in Buffalo, New Yorkmarker. Her father had a passion for gardening, and passed on much of his knowledge and expertise to his daughter.

Stewart was also active in many extracurricular activities, such as the school newspaper and the Art Club. During this time, Stewart began a modeling career. She was hired and appeared in several television commercials and magazines, including one of Tareyton's famous "Rather fight than switch" cigarette advertisements. Finishing with straight As, she was awarded a partial scholarship to Barnard Collegemarker in New York City.

Initially she intended to major in chemistry, but switched to art and European history, and later architectural history. It was around this time that she met and later married her husband, Andrew "Andy" Stewart, on July 1, 1961. Martha left Barnard and continued her moderately successful modeling career, while her husband finished his law degree at Yale Law School. She returned to Barnard a year later, to graduate with a double major in History and Architectural History. In 1965 her only child, daughter Alexis Stewart was born.

At this time, Stewart began to hone and develop her business skills. In 1967, she became a stockbroker. She was very successful, but left the profession in 1973 to have more time with her daughter and restore her new home in Connecticutmarker. It has been suggested that a scandal involving Levitz Furniture may have contributed to her decision to leave the firm of Monness, Horstman, Williams, &Sidel . Several Principals at the firm allegedly received kick-backs from Levitz for selling stock in the financially-troubled company . Stewart and her husband decided to move to Westportmarker, Connecticutmarker. They purchased and undertook a massive restoration of the 1805 farmhouse on Turkey Hill Road that would later become the model for the set of the Martha Stewart Living television program. Stewart and her husband undertook the entire venture by themselves. During the project, Stewart’s panache for restoring and decorating became apparent.

In 1976 Stewart started a catering business in her basement with a friend from her modeling days, Norma Collier. The venture quickly became successful, but soured when Collier alleged that Stewart was difficult to work with, and was also taking catering jobs on the side. Stewart soon bought her portion of the business. Stewart was also hired as the manager of a gourmet food store, The Market Basket at the Common Market, which she transformed into a booming success.

Meanwhile, Stewart's husband had become the president of prominent New York City publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc. In 1977, he was responsible for releasing the English-language edition of The Secret Book of Gnomes series, by Dutchmarker authors Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet which quickly became a blockbuster success and New York Times Best Seller. He contracted Stewart's company to cater the book release party, where she was introduced to Alan Mirken, the head of Crown Publishing Group. Mirken was impressed by Stewart's talent and later contacted her to develop a cookbook featuring recipes and photos from the parties that Stewart hosted. The result was Entertaining, ghostwritten by Elizabeth Hawes.

From there, word of her skills and business grew rapidly.Entertaining became a New York Times Best Seller, and the best selling cookbook since Julia Child and Simone Beck'sMastering the Art of French Cooking, released two decades earlier.

Rise to fame and career

Martha Stewart at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere.
Following Entertaining's success Stewart released many more books under the Clarkson Potter publishing imprint, including Martha Stewart's Quick Cook (1983), Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres (1984), Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts (1985), Weddings (1987), The Wedding Planner (1988), Martha Stewart's Quick Cook Menus (1988), Martha Stewart's Christmas (1989), and many others. During this time she also authored dozens of newspaper columns, magazine articles and other pieces on homemaking, and made numerous television appearances on programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live. She divorced her husband in 1989.

In 1990 she also signed with Time Publishing Ventures to develop a new magazine, Martha Stewart Living, for which Stewart served as editor in chief. The first issue was released in late 1990 with an initial rate base of 250,000. Circulation would peak in 2002 at more than 2 million copies per issue. In 1993, she began a weekly half-hour service program based on her magazine, which was quickly expanded to a full hour, and later to a daily format, with half-hour episodes on weekends. Stewart also became a frequent contributor to CBS's The Early Show, and starred in several prime time holiday specials on the CBS network.

On the cover of their May 1995 issue, New York Magazine declared her as "the definitive American woman of our time."

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

In September 1997, Stewart, with the assistance of business partner Sharon Patrick, was able to secure funding to purchase the various television, print, and merchandising ventures related to the Martha Stewart brand, and consolidate them into a new company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Stewart served as chairwoman, president, and CEO of the new company and Patrick became Chief Operations Officer. By organizing all of the brand's assets under one roof, Stewart felt she could promote synergy and have greater control of the brand's direction through the business's activities. That same month Stewart announced in Martha Stewart Living the launch of a companion website, marthastewart.com, and a catalogue business, Martha by Mail. The company also has a direct-to-consumer floral business, marthastewartflowers.com.

On October 19, 1999, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public on the New York Stock Exchangemarker under the ticker symbol MSO. The initial public offering was set at $18 per share, and rallied to $38 by the end of trading, making Stewart a billionaire on paper. The stock price slowly went down to $16 per share by February 2002. Stewart was then and continues to be the majority shareholder, with a commanding 96% control of voting power in the company.

Stock trading case and conviction

According to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Stewart avoided a loss of $45,673 by selling all 3,928 shares of her ImClone Systems stock on December 27, 2001 after receiving material, nonpublic information from Peter Bacanovic, who was Stewart's broker at Merrill Lynch. The day following her sale, the stock value fell 16%.

In the months that followed, Stewart drew heavy media scrutiny, including a Newsweek cover, headlined as "Martha's Mess." Notably, CBS anchor Jane Clayson grilled Stewart on the air June 25, 2002 about ImClone during her regular segment on The Early Show. Stewart tensely continued chopping cabbage and famously quipped, "I just want to focus on my salad."

October 3, 2002, Martha Stewart resigned her position, held for four months, on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, following a deal prosecutors made with Douglas Faneuil, assistant to Bacanovic.

On June 4, 2003, Stewart was indicted by the government on nine-counts including charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Stewart voluntarily stepped down as CEO and Chairwoman of MSLO but stayed on as chief creative officer. She went on trial in January 2004. Prosecutors showed that Bacanovic ordered his assistant to tell Stewart that the CEO of ImClone, Samuel D. Waksal, was selling all his shares in advance of an adverse Food and Drug Administration ruling. The FDA action was expected to cause ImClone shares to decline.After a highly publicized, five-week jury trial that was the most closely watched of a wave of corporate fraud trials, Stewart was found guilty in March 2004 of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators and sentenced in July 2004 to serve a five month term in a federal correctional facility and a two year period of supervised release (to include five months of electronic monitoring).

Stewart agreed in September 2004 to begin serving a five-month prison term while her appeal was still pending. In October 2004, she reported to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginiamarker. She was released on March 4, 2005, after which she was placed under electronic monitoring for an additional 5 months.

Bacanovic and Waksal were also convicted of federal charges and sentenced to prison terms. Stewart also paid a fine of $30,000.

In August 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had agreed to settle the related civil case against Stewart. Under the settlement, Stewart agreed to a five-year bar from serving as a director, or as the CEO, CFO (or other officer roles in which she would be responsible for preparing, auditing, or disclosing financial results), of any public company. In June 2008, the UK Border Agency refused to grant her a visa to enter the United Kingdommarker because of her criminal conviction for obstructing justice. She had been planning to speak at the Royal Academymarker on fashion and leisure industry matters.

Current projects

Following her release from prison in March 2005, Stewart launched a highly publicized comeback, and was once again involved in Martha Stewart Living. Offerings of her company's Martha Stewart Everyday line at Kmart were expanded to include a new line of ready-made home furnishings, and its mass market interior paint line became available at larger Sears stores. However, the most heavily promoted aspect of her comeback was television. Stewart returned to daytime television with The Martha Stewart Show and appeared in an adapted version of The Apprentice (called The Apprentice: Martha Stewart). Both shows premiered in September 2005, and both were produced by Mark Burnett. The Martha Stewart Show is currently in its fifth season.

Her prime time Apprentice spin-off received poor ratings, which some attribute to popular dislike for the opportunistic tone of the network's massive promotional campaign and to NBC's slotting the show up against the hit drama Lost. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart was not renewed for a second season.

In October 2005, Stewart also released a new book called The Martha Rules on starting and managing a new business, and a month later her company released Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. In October 2006, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, a reference book about looking after your house, was published by Clarkson Potter. She also is a regular contributor of cooking, gardening, and crafts segments on NBC's Today show. Stewart's daily talk show was nominated in six categories for the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2006, including Best Host and Best Show.

MSLO launched a line of houses that carry her name to be built by KB Home initially in Cary, North Carolinamarker and various other locations nationwide. The first homes, which were inspired by Stewart's homes in New York and Mount Desert Islandmarker in Mainemarker, were completed in early 2006. Ultimately 650 homes are planned with prices from low $200,000 to mid-$400,000s. A line of paper-based crafts for EK Success is also in development. In September 2007, she launched an upscale line of homewares for Macy'smarker, which is the largest brand launch in Macy's history. Appearing in commercials for the line, Stewart stated she has designed more than 2,000 items exclusively for Macy's. The line includes bedding, bath, cookware and dinnerware. In addition to television and merchandising, MSLO launched a 24-hour satellite radio channel with Sirius in November 2005, on which Stewart currently hosts a weekly call-in show.

Stewart also made a special appearance on the comedy-drama series Ugly Betty in the November 16, 2006 episode "Four Thanksgivings and a Funeral", in which she gave her friend Wilhelmina Slater (played by Vanessa Williams) tips on how to prepare a turkey. Justin Suarez (played by Mark Indelicato) is a fan of Stewart.

In July 2006, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced a multi-year agreement with FLOR, Inc., the eco-friendly manufacturer of high-style modular floor coverings, to manufacture and market a new line of Martha Stewart-branded carpet tiles. The Martha Stewart Floor Designs by FLOR line debuted in 2007 with the distinctive design and color palette associated with the Martha Stewart brand. The agreement with FLOR was part of the Martha Stewart organization's growing home furnishings program, which includes a wide range of products such as furniture with Bernhardt, wall color with Lowe's, and floor coverings with FLOR.

On September 14, 2007, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that it inked a partnership with E & J Gallo Winery to produce a wine brand with label "Martha Stewart Vintage" (for sale in 6 cities, January, at $15). 15,000 cases to be sold include: 2006 Sonoma Countymarker Chardonnay, 2005 Sonoma Countymarker Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Sonoma Countymarker Merlot (for Atlantamarker, Bostonmarker, Charlottemarker, N.C.marker, Denvermarker, Phoenixmarker, and Portlandmarker, Oregonmarker). Martha Stewart also signed contract with Costco Wholesale Corp. to offer frozen and fresh food (label - Kirkland Signature).

In July 2008, Craft items under the names "Martha Stewart Celebrate" and "Martha Stewart Create", two divisions of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, premiered in Wal-Mart stores. The deal came about in part due to the closing of more than 600 K-Mart stores in the U.S.

Personal life

At age 20, she married Andrew "Andy" Stewart, on July 1, 1961. She left Barnard Collegemarker for a year after she married but later returned. Her daughter Alexis Stewart was born in 1965.In 1989 Martha and Andrew divorced.

Stewart has not remarried, but dated Charles Simonyi for 15 years until February 2008. After his relationship, Charles Simonyi married Lisa Persdotter, on November 22, 2008.

Stewart is an avid animal lover. Her pets include champion show Chow Chow dogs, French Bulldogs, Himalayan cats, and Friesian horses. Stewart also created a video on behalf of fur bearing animals after being approached by PETA while in jail. Stewart stated, “I used to wear real fur, but, like many others, I had a change of heart when I learned what actually happens to the animals”. On April 12, 2008, it was announced via Stewart's official blog that her Kublai Khan Paw Paw Chow Chow Chow, one of Stewart's dogs, died at age 12.

Martha Kostyra, Stewart's mother, died at the age of 93 on November 16, 2007. Kostyra had appeared on Martha Stewart Living numerous times.

Stewart currently resides in Katonah, New Yorkmarker, a hamlet of Bedford, New York. She also maintains a residence on Mount Desert Islandmarker in Mainemarker, known as Skylands, the former home of car designer and tycoon Edsel Ford.

See also



References

  1. The Reinvention of Martha Stewart, BusinessWeek
  2. Martha Stewart Living posts a quarterly profit, MSNBC
  3. Ancestry of Martha Stewart
  4. Curran, John. "In her New Jersey hometown, Martha Stewart's downfall stings", The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 14, 2004. Accessed October 22, 2007. "A straight-A student, she belonged to almost every club there was at Nutley High School."
  5. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/people/archive/peoplearchive.php/Martha_Stewart/biog
  6. "More 'Ridiculousness'," Newsweek, July 8, 2002
  7. "Martha Stewart quits exchange board" BBC Oct. 4, 2002
  8. "Stewart Convicted on All Charges," CNN, March 5, 2004
  9. "Stewart Convicted on All Charges"
  10. "Martha, out and about" CNN
  11. "The Broker Who Fell to Earth," The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2006
  12. "Stewart sentenced to five months in prison" Reuters, published in The Sydney Morning Herald, July 17, 2004
  13. Securities and Exchange Commission Litigation Release No. 19794 / August 7, 2006
  14. Daily Telegraph issue dated 20 June, 2008
  15. http://www.flor.com/service/flor/shop/collections/Martha-Stewart.html
  16. Martha Stewart to sell signature wine
  17. [1]"Martha Stewart Still Stewing Over Donald Trump", 12 January 2008
  18. [2]
  19. Martha Stewart Dating Former Microsoftie? InsideMicrosoft, 29 December 2006
  20. Martha Stewart Renounces Fur, Hosts PETA Video Exposé
  21. Martha Stewart: Unlikely PETA spokesperson
  22. Martha Stewart's Mother Dies - Tributes, Martha Stewart : People.com


Sources

  • Sellers, Patricia (November 14, 2005). "Remodeling Martha". Fortune, pp. 49–62.


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