The most expensive robbery ( Graff Diamonds US$65 million )

September 19, 2009


The Graff Diamonds robbery took place on 6 August, 2009 when two men posing as customers entered the premises of Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street, London and stole jewellery worth nearly £40 million (US$65 million).
It was believed to be the largest ever gems heist in Britain at the time, and the second largest British robbery after the £53 million raid on a Securitas depot in Kent in 2006. The thieves’ haul totalled 43 items of jewellery, consisting of rings, bracelets, necklaces and wristwatches. Britain’s previous largest jewellery robbery also took place at Graff’s, in 2003.

The men arrived at the store by taxi and once inside produced two handguns which they used to threaten staff. They made no attempt to conceal their faces from the premises’ CCTV cameras, and police later discovered that they had used a professional make-up artist to alter their hair by using wigs, their skin tones and their features using latex prosthetics. The artist took four hours to apply the disguises, having been told that it was for a music video. Viewing the results in a mirror, one of the men commented: “My own mother wouldn’t recognise me now,” to which his accomplice is reported to have laughed and replied: “That’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?” The same make-up studio had unwittingly helped disguise members of the gang that robbed the Securitas depot in 2006.

A female member of staff was briefly held hostage as they exited the premises, at which point they fired a shot, although nobody was injured. Having released her they then escaped the scene in a blue BMW vehicle. This vehicle was abandoned in nearby Dover Street, where a second gunshot was fired into the ground while the robbers switched to a second vehicle, a silver Mercedes. They again switched vehicles in Farm Street, after which there was no further information regarding their whereabouts.

All of the diamonds had been laser-inscribed with the Graff logo and a Gemological Institute of America identification number.

Detectives investigating the robbery stated: “They knew exactly what they were looking for and we suspect they already had a market for the jewels.” The suspects’ details were circulated to all ports and airports but police believed they would have an elaborately prepared escape route and had already left the country.

The robbery was being investigated by Barnes Flying Squad, headed by Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace.

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September 17, 2009

The apparent contract killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov shattered the illusions of many who shared his belief that Russia had moved beyond the days when scores were settled with a spray of bullets.

Yet police estimates indicate that in some ways, little has changed since the Wild West years of Russian capitalism in the early and mid-1990s.

Contrary to popular perceptions, even more contract killings are committed in Russia today than were committed 10 years ago, said Leonid Kondratyuk, a top crime expert at the Interior Ministry’s Scientific Research Institute.

“We’re seeing somewhere between 500 and 700 such killings annually,” Kondratyuk said. “But those are just the murders we know for sure were contract killings. In reality, it’s probably two to three times higher.”

Kondratyuk’s estimate is conservative compared to that of Valentin Stepankov, who until June was deputy secretary of the Security Council.

At a January conference in Moscow held by the World Community Against the Globalization of Crime and Terrorism, Stepankov said organized criminal groups were responsible for 26,000 crimes in 2003, up from 3,300 in 1999. He said around 5,000 of those crimes were contract killings.

Stepankov was Russia’s first prosecutor general, serving until he was fired by former President Boris Yeltsin after parliament’s revolt in October 1993. He is now a deputy natural resources minister.

The Interior Ministry’s main criminal investigations department said fewer than 100 contract killings were registered in Russia last year. “But those are cases where we can say for sure it was a contract murder and where a criminal case has been initiated against a known suspect,” spokesman Denis Strukov said. “Those are the only objective numbers we have.”

The discrepancy in the figures reflects a lack of police data and the difficulty of classifying some murders.

“Who’s to say that someone who gets knocked over the head and his briefcase stolen wasn’t the target of a contract murder?” Strukov said.

Contract killings continue to swell because of a weak judicial system and a low probability that those ordering the hits will ever be punished. There also appears to be no shortage of those willing to kill for money, from drug addicts to former military men profiting from their professional training.

The price of a hit varies from a couple hundred dollars to a couple hundred thousand dollars, the experts say, with one singling out the 1998 killing of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova as the most expensive he had come across.

Kondratyuk said the weak judicial system often makes it easier to order a hit than to settle a dispute in court.

“Often a court case will be more expensive than just killing someone,” Kondratyuk said. “Especially since rampant corruption in the justice system means no one can be sure they would win in court.”

“Usually there’s nothing personal about it,” Yakov Kostyukovsky, an organized crime expert from the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, said about contract killings in the business world. “Unfortunately it’s still a typical instrument in dealing with the competition. Al Capone-style.”

Hits Solved ‘Unofficially’

Like Chicago police before Capone went down, Russian police have gained a reputation of being chronically ineffective in tackling organized crime and solving contract killings.

But Andrei Konstantinov, who heads the Agency of Journalistic Investigations in St. Petersburg and has a reputation as the most knowledgeable chronicler of Russia’s criminal underworld, said police are not as hapless as they are often portrayed.

“In many cases police investigators find out, or already know, who organized the hit,” Konstantinov said. “But they can’t gather quite enough information for a conviction.”

Kostyukovsky put a different twist on what he called a “misconception,” delineating between contract murders that are solved on “official” and “unofficial” levels.

The number of contract killings “officially” solved, that is, when enough evidence is passed on to prosecutors to try a suspect, may be low. Far more are solved unofficially, he said.

“If one group of criminals orders a hit on a member of another criminal group, the police might pass on information to the victim’s cohorts about who was behind the killing,” Kostyukovsky said. “If rival bandits are killing each other off, it might be advantageous for the police.”

It might not raise the number of officially solved contract killings, he said, but it is less work for the police.

A retired chief detective, who worked in the St. Petersburg police force for most of the 1990s, said such police tactics are common.

“It happens very often,” said the former detective, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s called ‘realization of operational information.’

“In most cases everyone understands that if the case is turned over to the courts, it will take them three years to get to it, and in the end decide no one is guilty of anything. But if you give the information to a rival group, the issue will be solved very quickly and radically. It’s rarely done out of ‘noble intentions.’ Almost always it’s out of hatred.”

The former detective added that the main reason police have a reputation for being unable to solve contract killings is that small-time hits, which are more likely to be solved, get little media attention.

“If an owner of a small store has another owner of a small store knocked off, no journalists are going to write about it,” he said. “But if someone like Starovoitova is murdered, the media coverage is enormous, and if the killers aren’t found, the impression is that no contract killings are ever solved.

“It’s definitely harder to solve a contract killing than a drunken domestic killing, but things aren’t as bad as the press makes it out to be.”

Most high-profile contract killings in Russia, however, are never solved.

Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes Russia, was shot several times from a passing car after leaving work the night of July 9. Prosecutors have said only that an investigation is underway; there has been no information about possible suspects or any other progress in solving the case.

The Price of a Hit

Contract killings can run anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple hundred thousand dollars, said Konstantinov, bestselling author of the seminal Russian gangster book “Banditsky Peterburg.”

“Take, for example, someone living in a communal apartment with an old lady who just won’t seem to die,” he said. “So he goes and finds a drug addict and pays him $300 to kill her.”

In one low-budget incident in October, police in the Moscow region town of Zhukovsky arrested two Ukrainian nationals on suspicion of knifing to death a 23-year-old Zhukovsky man a month earlier. The two men claimed the victim’s mother had paid them $300 for the job.

Lieutenant Mikhail Voronin of the Interior Ministry’s Scientific Research Institute was even more blunt in describing some killers’ bottom dollar.

“For a bottle of vodka, some homeless guys find they can get the job done with a kitchen knife,” Voronin said.

Having a high-profile businessman or politician killed, however, is a much pricier affair.

Konstantinov said the 1998 hit on Starovoitova is most expensive contract killing he has come across, likely costing around $150,000 because of the number of organizers involved. She was shot in the stairwell of her St. Petersburg apartment building.

It is often difficult to gauge how much was paid for a contract killing, Konstantinov said, due to a long chain of middlemen between the hit man and the person who ordered the hit. The two rarely, if ever, know each other.

“It’s the hit man who usually ends up getting caught, and only he knows how much money he got,” Konstantinov said. “A killing might have been ordered for $20,000, and the hit man only got $5,000. All of the middlemen in between took their cut.”

The alleged chain in the Starovoitova murder involves 11 people, most of whom come from the Bryansk region. Seven are currently on trial in St. Petersburg, and one has testified that the murder was ordered by former Duma Deputy Mikhail Glushchenko.

The whereabouts of Glushchenko, who served in parliament as a member of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and was reputedly a leader of the Tambov group, the most notorious St. Petersburg crime syndicate, are unknown. He is thought to be living abroad.

According to Konstantinov, it is common for killers to be hired from poorer regions — like Bryansk — and brought in to do a job in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

“You can hire someone from Kazan to come in, kill someone and leave quickly, and you’re paying them based on Kazan prices,” he said.

Prosecutors have identified Vitaly Akishin and Oleg Fedosov as Starovoitova’s killers. Akishin is one of the defendants currently on trial. The other six are alleged to have carried out various tasks, including taping Starovoitova’s phone calls, dumping the killers’ clothing in a river and driving the hit men from the crime scene.

Fedosov and three other suspects are still at large. Prosecutors are seeking the extradition of two of the suspects from Europe.

“There may have been more expensive hits [than the one on Starovoitova], but I haven’t heard of any,” Konstantinov said.

Sasha Makedonsky

A majority of Russia’s professional hit men are former secret service officers, military veterans and ex-convicts, according to Kondratyuk. “Of course people who know how to handle a gun are in demand,” he said.

One of the most notorious — and notoriously expensive — hired killers of the 1990s was Alexander Solonik, a former soldier and policeman nicknamed Sasha Makedonsky for his deftness at simultaneously firing pistols in both hands, or “Macedonian-style.” Solonik was said to have demanded tens of thousands of dollars for his services, Konstantinov said.

“I don’t really believe it, though,” he said. “It’s more likely just part of the mythology of the criminal world.”

Solonik, the only man ever to escape from Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison and remain at large, managed to flee to Greece after the jailbreak in 1995. But his body was found on Feb. 2, 1997, about 20 kilometers north of Athens. He had been strangled and wrapped in plastic bags.

Three months later, a suitcase, bag and towel containing the dismembered body of Russian model Svetlana Kotova were found near Solonik’s villa in Athens. Kotova and Solonik were romantically linked, according to Russian media reports.

In 2003, five suspected members of the infamous Orekhovskaya crime group were charged with the two slayings. One of them, Alexander Pustovalov, another notorious hit man, was accused of strangling Solonik. Pustovalov was known as Sasha Soldat because of his military background.

Hiring a Hit Man

But how are killers hired?

“That was a big problem for some businessmen in the 1990s,” Kondratyuk said. “They wanted to have someone killed but couldn’t find a killer. It’s not like you can go ask someone, ‘How much will it cost to have you kill someone?’ and then, after they answer, tell them, ‘Sorry, that’s too expensive. I think I’ll take my business elsewhere.'”

Kostyukovsky concurred that hiring a professional hit man requires some extra considerations. “Business in Moscow and St. Petersburg is a small world,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody else.”

But he said almost every successful businessman knows someone in the security services that can find someone to do the job.

Several factors other than the credentials of the hit man can determine the price of a contract murder, he said. These are the number of bodyguards a target has, the financial windfall from the death of a competitor and the style of the killing, to name a few.

“A contract murder arranged to look like an accident or a coincidence is going to be a lot more expensive than a standard shooting,” Kostyukovsky said.

Kostyukovsky said he believes the mysterious death of anti-corruption journalist and Yabloko Duma Deputy Yury Shchekochikhin to be a contract killing that could only have been arranged by a very expensive “high-class specialist.”

Shchekochikhin died in a Moscow hospital at the age of 52 in July 2003 after suffering a severe allergic reaction. People who saw his body said that his hair had fallen out, a symptom consistent with thallium poisoning.

“He was obviously a very dangerous journalist for someone,” Kostyukovsky said.

Above all, someone ordering a hit has to be able to trust the people he hires to organize and carry out the killing, Kostyukovsky said. “Either that or you have to pay enough money to where you’re sure the job will get done right,” he said.

The case of Moscow resident Milovan Ristic is a prime example of a hit man turning against his employer.

In March, police arrested Ristic in a sting operation and charged him with offering an acquaintance $50,000 in exchange for a photograph of the severed heads of his wife and mother-in-law in an alleged scheme to obtain ownership of his wife’s pharmacy and the apartment where the couple lived. The hired killer backed out of the deal and notified police.

After Ristic’s arrest, police said another man came to them saying Ristic had offered him $25,000 to kill the original hit man, but since the two hired killers turned out to be friends, the man decided to go to the police.

WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE DOG COLLAR

September 17, 2009


The world’s most expensive dog collar was designed by Bark Avenue Jewelers and was on display recently at a tradeshow to launch Randolph Duke’s pet line a partnership between the designer and Bonesoir Couture.

If you really love your dog and have an extra $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 lying around you may wish to lay it on the line for this $1,800,000.00 diamond dog collar.

Seems a $250,000.00 dog collar is not good enough for fido nowadays. In 2007 the people at I Love Dogs Diamonds have surpassed the mark with their Amour Amour dog collar which boasts a doggone hundred carats+ of sparkling diamonds and exquisite jewels, including a seven carat brilliant cut center diamond.

Price tag to give your pooch the world’s most expensive dog collar: $1,800,000.00 USD.

The Top 10 Most Expensive Domain Names!

September 16, 2009

How much is the word “toys” worth on the Internet? Hundreds? Thousands?

Try millions of dollars.

In a close bidding war, Toys ‘R’ Us bought the domain name Toys.com at auction for $5.1 million, placing it among the top 10 most expensive domain names on record.

And industry watchers say that it was probably a bargain.

“Had it not been such a recession, I think it probably would have gone for a little bit more than that,” Ron Jackson, editor and publisher of the Domain Name Journal, told ABCNews.com. In better economic times, he said it might have sold in the $7 to $8 million range.

The reason a generic word like “toys” has such value, he said, is because it’s a massive key word. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people type that word into search engines every day, generating an incredible flow of traffic to Toys.com.

“It’s like having a store in the middle of Times Square,” Jackson said. “The name is really almost priceless.”

Jackson’s industry magazine has tracked domain name sales since 2003.

Others in the industry have speculated that Sex.com sold for $12.5 million, Business.com sold for $7.5 million, and Wine.com sold for $3 million. But as they were not pure cash sales, Jackson doesn’t include them in his records.

Toys.com has not yet been added to his journal’s records, but Jackson expects to add it once the name has been officially transferred to Toys ‘R’ Us.

According to the Domain Name Journal’s records, below is a list of the top 10 most expensive domain names.

1. Fund.com, $9.99 million

2. Porn.com, $9.5 million

3. Diamonds.com, $7.5 million

4. Toys.com, $5.1 million

5. Vodka.com, $3 million

6. CreditCards.com, $2.75 million

7. Computers.com, $2.1 million

8. Seniors.com, $1.8 million

9. DataRecovery.com, $1.66 million

10. Cameras.com, $1.5 million

10. Tandberg.com, $1.5 million

The world’s most expensive diamond bikini

September 16, 2009



This is the most expensive bikini in the world. It is consists of 150 carats of D-Flawless diamonds and worth about 30 million U.S. dollars.

Designed by Susan Rosen, the bikini can best be worn only at beaches. True confession, its fall into the lingerie category is not justifiable as the fabric used for this bikini is a layer of pure diamonds and not a bit of clothe.

Model Molly Sims flaunted this designer bikini and is residing at the centerfold of the 2006 Illustrated Sports Swimsuit issue. The bikini is packed with over 150 carats of D Flawless diamonds. Other ornamental diamonds include:

1) 51 carat D Flawless Pear Shape
2) 30 carat D Flawless Emerald Cut
3) 15 carat D Flawless Rounds (pair)
4) Platinum-set 8 carat D Flawless Pear Shape (pair)

The Most expensive zip code in America

September 16, 2009

For those in the back screaming 90210 please put your hands down, you’re not even close. Beverly Hills 90210 comes in at 15th place according to Forbes for 2005.

The Most expensive zip code in America is 94027 which is Atherton, CA with a median house cost of $2,496,553.00 USD.

California actually takes the top four spots, so if you want to move there you’d better get your personal finances in order.

Here are the 25 most expensive zip codes for 2005:

1 94027 ATHERTON, CA $2,496,553

2 93108 SANTA BARBARA, CA $2,176,251

3 92067 RANCHO SANTA FE, CA $2,144,254

4 92662 NEWPORT BEACH, CA $2,046,577

5 11765 MILL NECK, NY $1,948,636

6 94957 ROSS, CA $1,910,263

7 89402 CRYSTAL BAY, NV $1,806,962

8 07620 ALPINE, NJ $1,773,880

9 89413 GLENBROOK, NV $1,765,000

10 07976 NEW VERNON, NJ $1,760,000

11 11568 OLD WESTBURY, NY $1,759,206

12 90402 SANTA MONICA, CA $1,749,834

13 10013 NEW YORK, NY $1,635,000

14 21056 GIBSON ISLAND, MD $1,626,000

15 90210 BEVERLY HILLS, CA $1,582,886

16 06831 GREENWICH, CT $1,573,755

17 33109 MIAMI BEACH, FL $1,505,655

18 94528 DIABLO, CA $1,452,500

19 94920 BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA $1,421,336

20 94022 LOS ALTOS, CA $1,392,522

21 92657 NEWPORT COAST, CA $1,391,710

22 92625 CORONA DEL MAR, CA $1,388,873

23 94946 NICASIO, CA $1,370,000

24 06878 RIVERSIDE, CT $1,348,653

25 90272 PACIFIC PALISADES, CA $1,329,856

The most expensive fish in the world.

September 16, 2009


Think that having fish as pets is cheap? Well it is if you’re buying goldfish or feeder fish that cost little to replace but there’s one aquarium fish that is not only very costly to replace, it’s also a very rare breed and has a very rare condition, all of which make it the most expensive aquarium fish in the world.

The fish is a platinum arowana and it is 15 inches long. It lives in Singapore, where it is owned by Aro Dynasty, a dragon fish breeder. Its right eye pulls downward and although this is a rare condition, it is not rare for the arowana breed.
However, the pure white color of this particular fish is rare, even amongst its own kind, and is considered a mutation. The fish was displayed at the show Aquarama 2007 where it gained international attention. Shortly after the show, Aro Dynasty received an offer of $80,000 for the fish and after declining, they received another offer of 200 pounds, about $400,000 USD for the fish. Turning that offer down as well, Aro Dynasty still maintains that the fish is not for sale. However, this rare fish is still considered to be the most expensive fish in the world.

Hour Glass

September 15, 2009


If you’re tired of dropping your hourglass and spilling all the sand inside, a little shop in Thailand has a solution for you.
They replaced the sand with diamonds, 10,000 carats of them so if you drop this hourglass, you’ll at least be motivated to clean up.

Before you go booking you ticket to Thailand, we should mention that the price tag on the world’s most expensive hourglass is a messy $6,400,000.00 USD.

DogHouse!It sold for $31,660, which is mere pennies when you consider how invaluable the love of a dog is!

September 15, 2009

If dog is man’s best friend, then it only seems right that man buy dog the most luxurious doghouse there is on the market. This doghouse, which appears almost chandelier-like in structure, as it appears to be able to hang down from a ceiling, is one of a kind and was made by the Japanese company Sanrio. The doghouse features the face of Hello Kitty, a famous Japanese cartoon cat, on it and is made of 7,600 Swarovski crystal beads draped from the very top of the elegant doghouse to the very bottom.

The large red cushion that sits just within the many crystal beads is large and plush enough for a small dog such as a Chihuahua or a terrier to get comfy on. The doghouse was originally created by Sanrio for a toy department store in Tokyo that wanted something unique for a sales event. It sold for $31,660, which is mere pennies when you consider how invaluable the love of a dog is!

World Most Expensive blog ($15M)!!!

September 14, 2009

Bankaholic.com

by Patrick Gavin on October 1, 2008

Site: www.Bankaholic.com

Deal: Bankaholic.com sold to BankRate.com

Size of Deal: $15M

Staff: 1

Sources of Revenue: Adsense, BankRate Partner Program

Sources of Traffic: Organic search.

Source: PaidContent

My Commentary: I was looking at this deal and was thinking if this isn’t the highest price tag paid for a single WordPress blog than it must be the most profitable WP blog ever sold! A deal estimated at $15M, seemingly all organic search traffic (so no cost for the traffic, the site is highly ranked for many top banking terms, ie “CD Rates“), and one employee! Well done John Wu.

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