Stewart at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere
|Born||Martha Helen Kostyra
August 3, 1941
Jersey City, New Jersey United States
|Alma mater||Barnard College|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur; television and magazine personality|
|Net worth||▲ $638 million|
|Spouse(s)||Andrew Stewart (divorced)|
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.
Stewart was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to middle-class Polish-American parents Edward "Eddie" Kostyra (c. 1912 – 1979) and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra (b. Buffalo, New York, September 16, 1914 – d. Norwalk, Connecticut, November 16, 2007). She lived in Jersey City until the age of 3, when her family moved to Nutley, New Jersey. She was raised in Nutley along with her five siblings. She took the name "Grace" for her confirmation name before graduating from Nutley High School.
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 York. 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 College 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 Andrew Stewart, on July 1, 1961. She left Barnard but 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 Connecticut. 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 Westport, Connecticut. 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..
Andrew Stewart 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 Dutch 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 and Entertaining became a New York Times Best Seller, and the best-selling cookbook since Julia Child and Simone Beck's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, released two decades earlier.
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".
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 Exchange 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.
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).
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 Kingdom because of her criminal conviction for obstructing justice. She had been planning to speak at the Royal Academy on fashion and leisure industry matters.
Stewart wanted to go to prison in Connecticut or Florida. Stewart did not want to serve at Federal Prison Camp, Alderson in West Virginia due to its remote location; in 2004 her lawyer said that the remoteness would make it difficult for Stewart's then-90 year old mother to visit. The judge, Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, recommended to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that Stewart be given her first choice, Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, or her second choice, Coleman Federal Correctional Complex. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice said that the BOP would not send her to FCI Danbury because the news media could too easily access the facility. The bureau could not send Stewart to FCC Coleman because of complications from Hurricane Ivan; the Coleman complex filled because inmates from Federal Correctional Institution, Marianna were moved to Coleman. Therefore the Federal Bureau of Prisons assigned Stewart to Alderson. The spokesperson said that he was concerned that the assignment to Alderson could be perceived as being vindictive. Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart's daughter, said that she believed that the BOP "may have made a point of sending her far away."
Cedarbaum ordered Stewart to report to her prison sentence before 2 pm on October 8, 2004. By September 27, 2004 Stewart received the BOP ID 55170-054. At about 6:15 am on October 8, 2004, she reported to FPC Alderson. Stewart said that her prison nickname was "M. Diddy." While in confinement she took a job and became an informal liaison between the administration and her fellow inmates. The People special Scandals! That Rocked America stated "Some expected America's goddess of domestic perfection to fall into terminal despair. Instead, with the drive that would make her a billionaire, Stewart took her lemon of a sentence and made lemonade. Heck, she made a lemon soufflé." Stewart was released from FPC Alderson at 12:30 am on March 4, 2005. She was then placed in a two year term of supervised release; during five of those months she was placed in home confinement with electronic monitoring. Stewart served her home confinement at a residence in Bedford, New York. She was allowed to leave her house for 48 hours per week for work-related visits. After her home confinement ended, but while her supervised release continued, she was required to remain employed and required to not associate with people with criminal records. In addition, during the supervised release she was required to receive permission from federal officials if she was going to leave the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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 Carolina and various other locations nationwide. The first homes, which were inspired by Stewart's homes in New York and Mount Desert Island in Maine, 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's, 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 County Chardonnay, 2005 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Sonoma County Merlot (for Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, North Carolina, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon). Martha Stewart also signed a 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.
At age 20, she married Andrew "Andy" Stewart, on July 1, 1961. She left Barnard College for a year after she married but later returned. Her daughter Alexis Stewart was born in 1965. In 1989 Martha and Andrew divorced.
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 York, a hamlet of Bedford, New York. She also maintains a residence on Mount Desert Island in Seal Harbor, Maine, known as 'Skylands', the former estate of automobile designer and tycoon Edsel Ford with gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen (1922).
Martha Stewart (born August 3, 1941) is a television and magazine personality known for her cooking, gardening, etiquette, and arts and crafts projects, and as a general lifestyle guide and homemaker. She is also a successful businesswoman, an American icon, and a convicted felon.
"Its a good thing" - catchphrase
Martha Stewart (born August 3, 1941 is an American entrepreneur, author, and media personality. Stewart is famous for the Martha Stewart Living TV show and magazine. In 2004, she was convicted of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale. She served five months in a West Virginia prison. She was on ABC but moved to another channel.