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New year, same ol’ stupid.
Here’s the first roundup of 2022.
Naked Brand Group used to sell lingerie. Now it’s selling EVs, because this is 2022, and making a hard left turn from elastic to electric makes perfect sense during pandemic 3.0.
Everyone just throws up their hands now and says, “Insane? Count me in!”
During pandemic 1.0, online sales for Naked’s Frederick’s of Hollywood (FOH) plunged like a neckline. In the collateral décolletage, it became a meme stock, natch.
Meantime, commercial electric-vehicle maker Cenntro — a company whose only experience with cup size involves a coffee mug holder — had a hefty backlog of orders and needed cash to increase production. Somebody must’ve called somebody who knew somebody who talked to his brother-in-law (there’s always a brother-in-law) and voila! Merger! Out with FOH, in with EVs.
Well, the stock has tanked over 50% as investors decided for now that pivoting from bustiers to batteries is like swapping peanut butter for airplane engines. While we’re at it, let’s make an FOH NFT and sell it in the Metaverse for Baby Doge.
Obviously, when these three titans of Wall Street pitch digital currencies on the blockchain, they know what they’re talking about. At least Ryan Huegerich thought they did.
The New York resident is suing the celebrities, accusing them of pumping up the value of a digital token last year with “false or misleading statements” on social media. The cryptocoin in question, called EthereumMax (EMAX), went way up, and then way down.
You mean, they’re just shills?
Huegerich is seeking class action status. He claims EMAX started trading on May 14 at $0.00000005875 (you read that right), then peaked in June at $0.000000863, before the financial Botox started to peter out “immediately after Defendant Kardashian’s post.” EMAX is currently trading at — lemme double-check the number of zeroes — $0.000000018.
Did he not make himself aware that Floyd Mayweather paid the SEC $600,000 in 2018 over previous crypto failure-to-disclose accusations? (Mayweather did not admit any wrongdoing.)
Did he not notice that Kim Kardashian put “#ad” on her Insta post? (It’s there, on the bottom right.)
Did he really take financial advice from Paul Pierce?
Your honor, I move to dismiss with prejudice.
One more celebrity crypto note.
Matt Damon has caught flack for a Crypto.com commercial where he compares the courageous act of investing in digital currencies to the Wright Brothers and being an astronaut. Yes, the guy who played an astronaut says it takes the same ginormous cojones to buy Shiba Inu as to go to Mars.
Here’s my favorite headline about Damon’s commercial: “Good Shill Hunting.”
Novak Djokovic is about $2 million poorer than he might’ve been if he’d won this year’s Australian Open. That ain’t happening.
At first I was going to call out Australia for granting Djokovic permission to enter the country, only to change its mind after he’d arrived. That would be unfair. That would be dumb.
But then the tennis champion, who’s won the Open a record nine times, admitted:
— He didn’t truthfully fill out a travel document for Australian border authorities when he claimed he hadn’t traveled anywhere for 14 days before his arrival. Social media posts reportedly showed Djokovic traveling between Spain and Serbia during that time, and Novak blames his agent for checking the wrong box on the immigration form. GAME
— He may have broken Covid rules in his native Serbia by participating in a photo shoot after testing positive for Covid, though Novak says he kept his distance and wore a mask until pictures were taken. SET
— He presented awards to children last month at a tennis event one day after he received a positive Covid result, though he says he did not know about the result until after he breathed all over the kids. MATCH
The Champ has aced another title, though this one doesn’t pay well.
Here we go again.
It’s one thing to be like every other American CEO and constantly cave to Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s another to act like the rest of us are idiots.
Intel recently apologized to China for telling suppliers to avoid using components made in the Xinjiang region, where the U.S. State Department believes the Chinese government is perpetrating genocide and enslaving Uyghur laborers.
This week Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was questioned by Alan Murray about the kerfuffle, at the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center (the what?). Gelsinger tried to explain that it’s really no big deal. “We found that there was no reason for us to call out one region in particular anywhere in the world because there’s many regions in the world that are having issues of such a matter.” Genocide issues? Like (counting on one hand), Myanmar, Syria, Ethiopia and South Sudan? Those hotbeds of chip component production?
Did I mention that Intel is a sponsor of the Beijing Olympics?
Go to 18:30 in the video:
Elizabeth Holmes decided to testify in her own defense.
Dumb. She was found guilty on four of 10 counts.
Maybe she would’ve been guilty of more counts if she hadn’t testified.
Unlikely. One juror said that during deliberations, the panel “scored” witnesses based on their credibility.
Holmes will be sentenced eight months from now, giving her plenty of time to raise capital — maybe through Theranos NFTs, or a BloodCoin™ — to fund a healthcare SPAC with “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli.
Couple of quickies:
What a coincidence!
Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida resigned from his post at the nation’s central bank earlier than expected. At the same time, we learned he sold a stock fund in February 2020 as the market was going down because of Covid fears. He just recently disclosed he bought back into the same stock fund three days later — right before the Fed announced plans to rescue the economy. And we are supposed to believe that this was part of a pre-planned portfolio rebalancing.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Bill Gates, whose generous giving to vaccine development has saved countless lives, announced on Twitter this week, “We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration.”
I couldn’t decide which of the following money items was dumbest, so we have a tie.
First, people are spending millions of dollars on real estate in the metaverse. This is not *real* estate. This is *un-real* estate.
But that isn’t stopping people from trying to make money. CNBC reports there’s a real estate developer called Republic Realm which spent $4 million on a “parcel” of “land” on metaverse site Sandbox. Realm CEO Janine Yorio says her company sold 100 “private islands” last year for $15,000 apiece. “Today they’re selling for about $300,000 each,” she told reporter Andrea Day, “which coincidentally is exactly the same as the average home price in America.”
I guess this isn’t any dumber than betting on collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps in 2008. Perhaps we’ll get a metaverse mortgage broker. We can call it Countrywide.
Moving on to real real estate: Los Angeles, the capital of wretched excess, has finally discovered how much is too much.
Nile Niami is a former B-movie producer who became a spec home developer. About ten years ago, when mega mansions began popping up all over L.A. like massive sparkling vajazzle, Niami decided to build something so big that no one could top him.
What he created on a four-acre hilltop is “The One,” a 105,000-square foot estate on four acres, surrounded by a modern moat, with 360-degree views of Los Angeles and the ocean. The house has 21 bedrooms and 42 baths. “You could use a different bathroom every day for six weeks,” says CNBC Wealth Reporter Robert Frank.
There are seven swimming pools, a bowling alley, a ginormous gym with its own juice bar, a full-service salon, a tequila bar (originally planned to be a “jellyfish room” but the jellyfish were too expensive), a 40-seat theater, a 30-car garage, yada yada yadaaaaaa. “This house was designed for the biggest party you’ve ever seen,” Robert tells me.
Niami somehow managed to convince very rich investors to fund construction, but the project went $180 million in debt.
“The One” ended up being one big house of cards, financially, and it likely faces a bankruptcy auction if it doesn't sell by next month. The house is officially on the market for $295 million, but Robert thinks potential buyers will wait to see what kind of price they can get at auction.
Who would buy such a thing? Robert says Niami may have been dreaming of some dashing young billionaire “who loves to have parties and just have beautiful women there all the time lounging in pools.” But he says a more likely buyer would be a Saudi royal. “They don’t want anyone anywhere near their houses except for their staff.” Robert explains more here, and his impressions of the house:
The new owner will have to deal with several lawsuits from creditors and neighbors — the house has no certificate of occupancy yet.
In an “only-in-2022” turn of insanity, Niami pitched the idea of a digital coin (OMG that again) which would be backed by the house.
Here’s his pitch.
This is the one crypto idea not catching fire.
Still, in a way, “The One” has won. It is so big and has caused so much trouble that the building rules have changed in Los Angeles so that a house of this size is “The One and Done.”
“The fact that you can’t build this again makes it a lot more valuable,” Robert says.
Maybe it’s not so dumb after all.
We also have a tie for stories to help this column end on a positive note.
First, watch this gripping video of LAPD officers pulling a pilot out of a small airplane that crashed onto train tracks. As the train bore down on them, the officers showed uncommon valor as a common virtue. (It’s kinda scary.)
The most well-written story of a very young 2022 is about two women, who refer to themselves as “middle-aged lesbians,” and their cats. The cats have been holding a spiffy new blender hostage in its box for three weeks, refusing to let the women near it. It’s purr-fect.
Thanks for playing along. As always, you can recommend future dingbats for this column in the comments, or email email@example.com.
Cover Image: “Chimpanzee with VR Headset”/timandtim, Getty Images