Camera collectors have a reason to be happy. A gold plated camera which has been encased in lizard skin has surfaced. The camera, a Leica Luxus was auctioned on November 22 at Hong Kong. This is one of the special edition cameras made in 1932 and is the only surviving from the lot of four.
The camera is expected to fetch around $2,785,960. It has been sold with its original crocodile camera case, has a bell push release along with a 50 mm Elmar lens and was gifted to a British camera collector after World War II. The Leica Luxus was in stores all these years and it was only in 2001 that the current owner took the camera to Antiques Road Show to get its worth assessed.
Mark Allum, the presenter of the show realized the worth of the camera and its pre sale estimates have now being pegged at over $2,785, 960.
Leica had been a leader in camera manufacturing since 1913. The cameras were not only ahead of time but also had the latest technology of that era. The camera played a vital role in the development of photo industry during 1930’s. However, the identity of the photography enthusiast who finally bought the camera has not been disclosed.
A spectacular Orange Diamond fetched $35.5 million at a Geneva auction recently.
It is considered the largest fancy vivid orange diamond in the world by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It was estimated to sell for only $17 million to $20 million.
If the name Zhenli Ye Gon sounds familiar, it’s because he is the same Chinese-Mexican drug kingpin from the story of the largest amount of cash ever seized in one persons possession. If you don’t recall that story, back in 2007 Mexican drug agents and American DEA raided an unassuming house in the suburbs of Mexico City after receiving a tip about suspicious activity from an informant. After securing the property, the agents proceeded to check the residence room by room. Low and behold, when they opened the door to a back bedroom, agents were shocked to discover a mountain of neatly stacked money three feet high and six feet wide. In total, the mountain was made up of $207 million in mostly US hundred dollar bills. It was the largest amount of drug money ever discovered in history.
That house was owned by a businessman named Zhenli Ye Gon. Zhenli Ye Gon moved from Shanghai to Mexico in 1996 to work in the import/export business. By 2002, he was running a supposedly legitimate chemical importing company called Unimed Pharm Chem. Somewhere along the way, Mr. Ye Gon allegedly began re-directing a portion of his imports from legitimate businesses to the Sinola drug cartel. The cartel then used these precursor chemicals to manufacture massive quantities of crystal meth which were then shipped to the US.
Zhenli Ye Gon was actually not at the house when the raid went down and when he found out what happened he fled north, to The United States, of all places. When he reached the US, Zhenli claimed he was forced to hold on to the $207 million by a Cabinet member of Mexico’s then President Filipe Calderon. Zhenli admitted that the money was from the Sinola cartel and further claimed it was to be used in Calderon’s upcoming re-election campaign. Oh, and he also admitted that the total amount of dirty money he was “forced” to babysit was actually closer to $350 million.
Zhenli Ye Gon was indicted in The United States in 2007, but after a series of witnesses recanted or coincidentally turned up dead, the case was eventually dismissed. However, he is still fighting the government to not be extradited to Mexico where drug trafficking laws are slightly looser.
So how does this saga connect back to Las Vegas? Earlier this week, The Las Vegas Sands corporation was fined $47.4 million by the US Attorney’s office for failing to alert authorities to Zhenli Ye Gon’s very suspicious gambling activities. It turns out that between 2004 and the raid in Mexico in 2007, Zhenli gambled away just over $125 million in cash mainly at The Venetian (which is owned by Las Vegas Sands corp). Every casino is obligated to alert American authorities to any suspicious transactions that may involve illicit money.
Between 2006 and 2007 alone, Zhenli transferred $45 million in cash to the Venetian from various banks and money exchanges located around Mexico. He proceeded to not only blow the entire $45 million, but an additional $35 million he received on credit from the casino. For a while, Zhenli was by far and away the largest all-cash-upfront gambler in the history of Las Vegas and thanks to these unprecedented losses, the casinos treated him like a God. The casinos showered him with comped rooms, private jets, meals, cars, girls… we’re talking comps that are beyond mortal imagination. In total, Zhenli lost $85 million at the Venetian and another $40 million at a small handful of nearby casinos.
Eike Batista was born November 3, 1965 in Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil. His father was the Minister of Mines and Energy for a state-owned conglomerate. As a teenager, Batista moved with his family to Europe when his father was promoted to new positions in Switzerland, Germany then Belgium. After the family returned to Brazil, the 22 year old Batista stayed in Europe and took a job as a door to door insurance salesman. When he was 23, Eike moved back to Brazil where he launched a gold trading company called Autram Aurem. Over the next 20 years, he went on to launch five new companies that specialized in mining gold, silver, natural gas, petroleum and various other commodities. The companies were controlled by Eike’s umbrella firm, EBX Group.
Eike’s wealth began to soar in the mid-90s, thanks to booming markets in commodities, real estate, entertainment, tourism and hospitality in Brazil. Pretty soon, Mr. Batista found himself sitting on a bonafide 10 figure bank account. When times were good, Eike violated one of the most important rules of modern business: Never personally guarantee anything. If your business borrows money, never personally guarantee to pay the loan back.
In December 2010, Eike Batista told 60 Minutes that Carlos Slim should watch out, because some day soon he would be stealing the Mexican tycoon’s title as richest person in the world. Two months later, Batista told Business Week that within 10 years his net worth would top $100 billion. Bold statements for a man whose net worth at the time was just $8 billion, compared to Carlos Slim’s $63 billion. But fast forward two years and those predictions didn’t seem so crazy after all. As worldwide commodities markets continued to soar, by August, 2012, Batista’s net worth grew an astonishing 331% to $34.5 billion. That was enough to make him the richest person in South America and the eighth richest person in the world.
Unfortunately, August 2012 turned out to be the absolute peak of the worldwide commodities market and subsequently Eike Batista’s personal wealth. Over the last 12 months, Batista’s OGX has declined 87% after oil production slowed from 750,000 barrels per day to just 15,000. The collapse of mineral prices equally obliterated Batista’s remaining four companies. Making matters worse, because Eike personally guaranteed $3.5 billion worth of corporate loans, a variety of creditors began to circle him like vultures.
In less than a year, Eike Batista has seen his wealth decline 99.4%, from $34.5 billion to just $200 million. If this decline remains or gets worse, it may turn out to be the largest evaporation of personal wealth in human history. After his Playboy model wife left him, he actually began parking his $1.2 million Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR in the living room, because he could. In recent weeks, Eike has been forced to the Benz along with mansions, artwork, a $19 million racing yacht and three private jets. Only time will tell if Eike can make a comeback, but things are certainly not looking good at the moment. Eike himself announced over twitter that anyone who bets against him now will be “caught with their pants down”. I guess anything is possible… How would you feel if you lost $34.5 billion in 12 months?
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