NEW YORK – As more names pop up in the Martha Stewart insider trading scandal, America's queen of hearth and home is undergoing a surprising makeover.
Forget Martha Stewart, the flying Walenda of kitchen stunts. Now it's Martha Stewart, stock market networker extraordinaire - the big name celeb in Wall Street's half-lit world where Hamptons society meets the inside track to high finance.
At the center of the action: Wall Street's powerful, controversial and publicity-shy takeover artiste, Carl Icahn. Orbiting around Icahn along with Martha are Stewart chums ranging from her now-disgraced "close personal friend" Sam Waksal, to the Bush administration's undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Charlotte Beers.
Waksal himself served as CEO of ImClone Systems (IMCL), the cancer-cure company, until he resigned in May. He has since been charged by federal prosecutors with nine felony counts of insider trading in ImClone's shares.
Yet whatever Waksal's own fate, Martha and her group certainly seem to have waxed fat simply by knowing Waksal when Icahn was backing him and ImClone itself was riding high.
In at least two cases, Martha and her pals were able to get in on the ground floor as insiders on investment deals closely tied to ImClone itself.
Though the company was based in Tarrytown, N.Y., government filings indicate that various of Cadus' financial matters were initially handled out of ImClone's own offices on Varick Street.
Martha appears as an original preferred stock investor in Cadus Pharmaceutical, along with Sam Waksal and his two daughters, Elana and Aliza.
So does Martha's friend and adviser, public relations biggie Charlotte Beers, who eventually became a member of the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Beers resigned from the board last year to assume a high post in the Bush administration. Her financial statement, filed with the U.S. office of government ethics, shows that as of the spring of 2001 she held ImClone stock valued at between $100,000 and $250,000.
Sam Waksal also appears as a board member in Cadus, along with Mark Rachesky, who worked as an investment adviser to Icahn.
One of the more surprising early investors in Cadus turns out to be a Westport, Conn., neighbor of Martha's named Dr. Bart M. Pasternak.
Pasternak's name surfaced two weeks ago when Time magazine reported that congressional investigators wanted to know more about his sale of 10,000 shares of ImClone stock in late December. Time said probers wanted to know whether an insider tip might have come by way of Pasternak's ex-wife, Mariana, a long-time friend of Martha's.
Mariana happened to have accompanied Martha on her private jet to Mexico on Dec. 27, when Martha sold roughly $228,000 of her own ImClone stock.
Martha has denied any wrongdoing, and through lawyers, Pasternak and his ex-wife have done likewise.
The Post has already reported on the activities of yet another company that is also closely tied to ImClone.
The company, Scientia Health Group, is officially headquartered in Bermuda, but its corporate offices are actually located in rented floor space in ImClone's own Varick Street headquarters.
The Post reported two weeks ago that papers show stockholders in Scientia include Martha and her celebrity lawyer, Allen Grubman, as well as Carl Icahn and financier Leon Black, who once worked as head of mergers and acquisitions for Drexel Burnham and Co.
Now published reports have added two more names to the Scientia list: financier Nelson Peltz and Bart Pasternak, who last year invested $134,000 in Scientia Health.