The Weirdest Things Humans Have Shot Into Space

Ever since we have begun exploring space, humans have sent some, well, interesting stuff up there. Besides the obvious supplies to keep the astronauts at the International Space Station alive and healthy, we have also sent up experiments, pictures, cars and more. We take a look at some of the most interesting things we have sent up into the solar system, some which may never return to Earth.

Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber

Astronaut Jim Reilly helped welcome R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars to the Kennedy Space Center. The lightsaber is being taken into space aboard the real-life spacecraft Discovery during mission STS-120. (NASA)

In 2007, a space shuttle carried Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber to space. NASA’s STS-120 mission included Mark Hamill’s lightsaber prop from 1983’s Return of the Jedi. The weapon was loaned to NASA by George Lucas and was presented to NASA officials in typical fashion: By Chewbacca himself. The officials were escorted by Stormtroopers, Sith lords, and bounty hunters to make sure the lightsaber was successfully loaded for transport to the International Space Station.


Sperm being prepared for launch. (NASA)

NASA wanted to answer the age-old question of what happens if humans get it on in space? Can we reproduce in microgravity? So the space agency sent human and bull semen samples to space to see if they can move freely enough and fast enough to potentially fertilize an egg (no egg will be involved in this current experiment). The sperm will then be re-frozen and sent back to Earth where scientists will test to see if its capable of reproduction.

Andy Warhol’s Doodle

Doodle by Andy Warhol in the top lefthand corner that made it to space, along with drawings from five other artists.

Artist Andy Warhol scribbled his initials on a ceramic tile no bigger than a thumbnail, and it made it to space. But it doesn’t really look like initials, though we will leave you to make your own decision. Warhol’s doodle was one of six miniature drawings, created by six different artists, that were smuggled to the moon on the Apollo 12 mission. Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, and Forrest Myers, who organized the project, all drew on the same chip. It is the first piece of art to be on the moon’s surface, some say, though others would debate that point.

Buzz Lightyear

Video screen capture of Buzz Lightyear on orbit with fellow crew members Greg Chamitoff and Mike Finke. (NASA)

Disney and NASA teamed up to develop some hands-on activities, demonstrations, and exhibits that focused on Buzz Lightyear’s time aboard the STS-1234 and his year living on the International Space Station.

New York Baseball Memorabilia

Astronauts Mike Massimino (r.) and Mike Good. Massimino holds up the home plate used at Shea Stadium for the 2007 season. (NASA)

Astronaut Garrett Reisman was a passionate Yankee fan, so he brought a small vial of dirt from the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium on the space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-123 mission in 2008. He also brought a banner and hat autographed by George Steinbrenner, who was the principal owner of the team for 37 years. But not to be outdone, Mets fan Mike Massimino brought the home plate from Shea Stadium with him on a different Endeavour mission.

Wright Brothers Plane

Part of the airplane the Wright Brothers first flew was brought to space on Apollo 11. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Fabric and wood from the airplane the Wright Brothers flew in 1903, when the aircraft came a few feet off the ground, traveled to space on the Apollo 11 mission and were in the lunar module Eagle that landed on the moon. There is now a plaque in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. that commemorates the two great achievements: the first powered, controlled flight and the first human lunar landing.

A Tesla

In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named “Starman” heads towards Mars. (SpaceX via Getty Images)

When Elon Musk and SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, they sent a cherry red Tesla Roadster sports car, complete with cameras to capture the views, into orbit. There is a spacesuit in the front seat, a nearly indestructible disk carrying a digital copy of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, Foundation, and a plaque engraved with nearly 6,000 SpaceX employee names.

Corned Beef Sandwich

John Young (left) and Gus Grissom flew on the first crewed Gemini flight, Gemini 3, on March 23, 1965. Here, they’re shown in the spacecraft simulator at the McDonnell plant in St. Louis. One additional “passenger” on the real flight was a corned-beef sandwich that Young smuggled aboard in his pocket. (NASA)

John Young is famous for his Apollo 16 moonwalks and role as commander of the first space shuttle mission. But at NASA, he is known because he caused a major space shuttle scandal when he smuggled a corned beef sandwich into space. Young put the sandwich in his pocket right before launching on Gemini 3 in 1965, which was the first U.S. mission to carry two astronauts. The sandwich was documented in a brief conversation between young and his crewmate, Gus Grissom. The incident raised concerns about “crumbs in space,” and one member of Congress called it the “$30 million sandwich” because it sparked a review by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations.


Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachov eating his Pizza Hut in space. (YouTube)

Pizza Hut really wanted to be the first company to deliver pizza in space, so they paid over a million dollars to get pizza to Russian Yuri Usachov in 2001. The pizza was sent to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard a resupply rocket. According to ABC“the pizza was seasoned with extra spices, especially salt since it’s known that taste buds become a little dulled in space. And although pepperoni is the chain’s most popular topping, the company settled for salami since pepperoni did not preserve well during the required 60-day test: it grew mold.” The Americans were not allowed to eat it because NASA has a policy against advertisements on their spacecraft.

Human Remains

Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of the planet Pluto, requested that his ashes be sent to space. (Getty Images)

Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, was the first human to have his remains sent outside the solar system. His ashes were placed aboard the NASA spacecraft New Horizons. One of his final requests was for his ashes to be sent into space, so a small container carrying his remains was affixed to the inside of the upper deck of the probe. The container was inscribed, “Interred herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘third zone’ Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).” Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 9, 1930.

Aston Martin’s Lovable Loser Never Won a Damn Thing

With a lifetime record of 100 starts and 100 losses, thoroughbred Zippy Chippy might possibly be the most lovable loser in the history of racing sports.

A close second? Another powerful beast we’d gladly keep in our stable at home despite its losing record, the DP215 prototype from Aston Martin

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

Designed to take to the track as an entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963, the project which became known as DP215 was started two months before the race was set to take place and the engineering department tasked with building it was given a shoestring budget of just £1,500.

Despite the lack of funding, the Aston Martin Racing Department was able to cook up a build that earned a place in the Le Mans record books – even though it didn’t finish the race.

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

Powered by a four-liter version of the six-cylinder twin plug engine Aston Martin used in the DP212 model which competed at Le Mans in 1962, DP215’s steel box-frame chassis had to be modified in order to accommodate engine No. 400/215/01.

Driven to improve the car’s balance and prevent its rear end from lifting up at high speed, chief engineer Ted Cutting used wind tunnel testing to fine-tune DP215’s aerodynamics.

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

During testing at Le Mans, Cutting’s automotive genius was on full display as DP215 became the first car to officially break the 300 kilometer per hour (186.4 MPH) barrier when it hit 198 miles per hour on the Mulsanne Straight in the middle of a practice run.

However—as DP215’s drivers Phil Hill and Lucien Bianch found out at Le Mans—great power comes with great responsibility, as well as the need for a five-speed transmission that can handle it.

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

Unfortunately for Hill, Bianchi, and Aston Martin, the heightened torque of No. 400/215/01 was too much DP215’s DBR1-type CG537 transmission to handle and it blew after just two hours while the car was in first place and beating Ferraris by as much as 12 seconds per lap.

Adding insult to injury, DP215 was forced to retire from a race while leading for the second time when its transmission blew once again at the Reims-Gueux the following month.

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

Shortly thereafter, the Aston Martin Racing Department folded and DP215 was subsequently sold for scrap metal following an accident with a van during night testing on the M1 motorway.

Eventually acquired by an Aston Martin collector in 1992, Cutting was brought in to help restore the car to its original state, including reuniting it with No. 400/215/1 and putting in a 1,000-piece replica of DP215’s lovable-yet-losing transmission.

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype which RM Sotheby’s will auction at Monterey 2018. (Tim Scott ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

Now, with fewer than 300 miles on its odometer since its rebuild began in ’92, DP215 is crossing the block at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in August.

Estimated to sell for as much as $25 million, it’s possible the price of DP215 may surpass the $22.6 million the DBR1 race car—the most expensive British car ever sold at auction—brought in last year at Monterey Car Week.

“I’ll be surprised if [the DP215] sells for more than the DBR1,” said Hagerty auction editor Andrew Newton. “But then again, in that room there’s gonna be those buying Ferrari GTOs, and significant Ford GT40s. There’s going to be so much money in that room.”

Find out more about Monterey here and about DP215 in the video below.

Police Capture Alleged Child-Killer Who Taunted Them for Decades

On July 15, 2018, a pair of police detectives approached a gray-haired man outside his trailer at 13722 Main St. in Grabill, Indiana. They asked the man, 59-year-old John D. Miller, to speak with them at the Fort Wayne Police Dept.

In his affidavit for probable cause, Det. Brian Martin said he asked  Miller if he knew why they wanted to talk with him.

Miller looked at the detectives.

“April Tinsley,” he said.

On the first day of April 1988, eight-year-old April Tinsley disappeared.

Police found her body in a ditch on April 4th. She’d been sexually assaulted then asphyxiated. They obtained a DNA sample from her underwear—and for two years, that was about it. It was a horrific murder, a profound violation that resonated throughout Fort Wayne, but there was no resolution. Only fear.

In 1990 the killer struck again, but this time he used words. On a barn door he scrawled, “I kill 8 year old April Marie Tinsley did you find her other shoe haha I will kill agin.”

No one knew for sure if it was the real killer. If it was, he relished the fear he’d caused and wanted more excitement. And there was plenty of fear to go around. In early April 1992, four years after April Tinsley’s murder, the Logansport Pharos-Tribune published an account of nervous parents in and around Fort Wayne reacting to an attempted abduction and reports of a strange car following children as they headed home from school. This pattern continued across the years.

It didn’t help that early descriptions of the man were too innocuous, too vague to help. He drove a blue truck. He was white, in his thirties, and a little disheveled. In northeastern Indiana he could have been anyone. As the years passed, however, he parceled out sick bits of evidence, and his targets were little girls, just like April.

In 2004, reported the Washington Post, he left a note for a girl that read in part, “Hi honey. I been watching you I am the same person that kidnapped an rape an kill April Tinsely you are my next victim.”

He threatened to blow up one harassment victim’s home. He left used condoms on the bikes of other girls and he left Polaroid shots of his genitals. April Tinsley’s killer was Fort Wayne’s boogeyman, and he loved it.

But the entire time he was passing out his sick greeting cards, he was giving police more evidence. More DNA, even a more in-depth physical description that could one day be used against him.

He was a very lucky boogeyman, as it seemed like he was also stupid.

Not stupid enough to get caught.

Then came the Age of Forensic Genealogy.

Forensic Genealogy is one of those things that seems so obvious the moment you learn about it—obvious since consumer DNA tests became available. At least three websites permit storage of DNA data from customers, but only one is free: GEDMatch.

A Wikipedia description of GEDMatch is as good as any: “GEDmatch is an open data personal genomics database and genealogy website based in Lake Worth, Florida.”

Thousands of users have uploaded their raw DNA files from 23andMe and, and through these GEDMatch often unearths pairings of relatives and distant relatives that might not be found via paid sites.

Once law enforcement realized what a fantastic tool it could be, they opened a new era in criminal investigation: comparing an unknown subject’s DNA with samples willingly uploaded to GEDMatch.

April Tinsley, age 8
8-year-old April Tinsley (Fort Wayne PD)

With the aid of highly-trained genealogists capable of tracing the most complex family trees back across generations, investigators began wrapping seemingly intractable cold cases to the tune of one or two a month sometimes.

The most famous so far was the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, whose DNA matched the infamous Golden State Killer. With DeAngelo’s high-profile arrest, other police departments across the country took the cue and began delving into family trees, sometimes apprehending a suspect from a mere thread of DNA linking them to a great-great-granduncle.

There are no perfect solutions, but there’s no ignoring how many cold cases were resolved after DeAngelo’s arrest.

Like the murder of April Tinsley.

John D. Miller
Mugshot of John D. Miller, alleged killer of April Tinsley. (Fort Wayne PD)

Fort Wayne detectives followed a genetic roadmap to John Miller’s door on Main Street in Grabill, Indiana. Forensic genealogy, aided by all the evidence April Tinsley’s killer left behind as he fulfilled his need to terrorize children, pointed to Miller and his brother. Detectives collected another DNA sample from Miller’s trash, and it matched.

So, there they found him, a disheveled man looking older than 59, with flat shark eyes and bad teeth. He did look like the boogeyman, after all.

He reportedly confessed after he said her name. He told of abducting the girl, of raping her, and of how he then strangled her before defiling her dead body. It was simple. It was horrible.

Miller’s run-down trailer in Grabill stands empty and surrounded by crime scene tape. One more boogeyman has come into the light.

These Bespoke Scramblers Are Ideal for City-to-Track Riding

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Only thing better than one pristine off-road bike ready to hit the trails? Two.

Auto Fabrica is a bespoke motorcycle company that was started by two London-area brothers in 2013. The pair design, model and manufacture beautiful handmade motorcycles according to their and client’s ambitious, aesthetic-driven visions.

A perfect example isn’t hard to find: for one client, Auto Fabrica took two straightforward Yamaha SR500 frames as the base to make this formidable pair of café-racer-styled off-roaders. The 7E and 7D both have rebuilt and refined engines, and also feature handmade “sand-bent” exhausts, which they’ve positioned higher than normal on the frame so the bikes can power through high water or tricky ground terrain. Also note the slightly slimmer tires: they’re not scary-burly, making the bike a city-friendly ride as well (read: not full-blown Motocross).

While most of their builds have an old-school, classic style, one of the most notable concepts from Auto Fabrica is the Type 11 (pictured below): it’s the first contemporary build to come out of the shop and so far has been released in only limited numbers. By now the design is three iterations in and has only gotten more sleek and TRON-like each round. Countless colorway and finish options are available, and the design is subject to further evolve beyond the early prototypes.

Like what you see? Head over to Auto Fabrica’s website for news and info on all their latest builds.


Exploring the Charms of English Wine Country

There is no international export more immediately identified with France than champagne.

Evidently, nobody told the French everybody’s favorite celebratory sparkling wine was invented and popularized in England. In the never-ending stream of issues the French and Brits find to argue about, this effervescent debate says the very word and indeed all varietals of champagne are the exclusive domain of that titular region of Northern France.

Meanwhile, the British point out that the effervescent vino was invented by the English scientist and doctor Christopher Merret in the mid 1600s before Dom Perignon got his gloves on the recipe and made it all became the sole domain of Rheims.

This battle of bubbly is becoming pointless as the hardworking men and women of idyllic Sussex in the south of England are making their own sparkling wine in exportable amounts across multiple regional wineries. As they produce each year’s vintage, the proud Brits couldn’t care less where champagne came to be. The French can have it.

Unlike traditional wines that arrive at your table sans bubbles (many of which flourish amidst hot days and cool nights), the grapes forging sparkling brands grow best in consistently cooler, stable climates. Located only about 80 miles south of the Champagne Region of France as the longitude lines run, Sussex offers just those conditions, throwing in ideal chalk-spiked spoil to produce ample grape crops. Winers stud the rolling hills between London and England’s south coast — calling across the channel to the French to bring it on in a sort of alcohol-fueled Agincourt.

During a recent tour of Sussex and the green stretches of the South Downs, four of the best U.K. vineyards and wineries offered a look at their growing operations and more than a few sips of their fresh and fruity products. With the Royal Wedding christening a new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Southern England is ready to kick in the doors of the world’s finest wine cellars.

Wiston Estate Winery

Wiston House (Wiston Estate Winery)

Dominated by a sprawling country house that’s now used by the UK’s Foreign Office for official gatherings, the Wiston Estate has been owned and managed by the Goring family since 1743 when it had to give up the real estate that now hosts Buckingham Palace. Its 6,000 acres now includes thousands of vines growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

Led by award-winning winemaker Dermot Sugrue, Wiston produces top shelf sparkling wines in smaller batches — including Wiston Estate  Blanc de Noirs and Cuvees 2009 and 2013.

Dry without back bite on the palette, there’s a sophistication about Wiston’s offerings, especially the Wiston Rose.

Rathfinny Wine Estate

Rathfinny Wine Estate (Rathfinny Wine Estate)

Established in 2010, Rathfinny boasts one of the largest vineyards along the countryside and produces its wines in a bigger operation than Wiston. Putting out in the neighborhood of 100,000 bottles per year with the express intention of making wine for imbibers far and wide. London’s historic and prestigious Savoy serves up Rathfinny selections with its famed afternoon tea.

Offering Blanc de Blancs, Rose and Blanc de Noir, Rathfinny’s wines are smooth and gentle on the tongue.

Detours for Culinary Accompaniment

High Weald Dairy (High Weald Dairy)

A good sparkling wine stands well on its own, but it picks up extras character when partnered with food. Set between these Sussex wineries, small farms produce culinary treats Susses chefs like to pair with the neighboring wines.

High Weald Dairy was founded in the late 1980s and produces small batches of award winning cheeses from nearby cattle, sheep and goat herds. Selling their curds across England, High Weald is especially proud of its goat and sheep-based cheeses.

Nearby, Trenchmore Farm keeps Sussex restaurants stocked with some of the U.K.’s finest beef. Specially in a crossbreed of Sussex and Wagyu cattle, Trenchmore was winner of the Sussex Food and Drink Awards Farmer of the Year 2017.

An orchard of apple trees runs along one side of the farm. The fruit goes into Silly Moo, an outstanding light, medium dry hard cider. This reporter brought a bottle home across the Atlantic.

Ridgeview Wine Estate

Ridgeview Wine Estate (Ridgeview Wine Estate)

Owned by Mike and Chris Roberts, Ridgeview opened in 1995 and sits properly enough atop a ridge overlooking the breadth of the South Downs. Taking advantage of that ideal climate and soil to grow that familiar, essential mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Ridgeview runs a streamlined operation, boasting some of the oldest vines in the U.K. Brits can find the company’s Fitzrovia Rose and Rose de Noir at Waitrose or Marks & Spencer, but Ridgeview also exports internationally.

Bluebell Vineyard

Bluebell Vineyard Estates (Bluebell Vineyard Estates)

Though the smallest of the four wineries listed here, family owned and operated Bluebell offers a wide spectrum of wines. From the Barrel Aged Blanc de Blancs 2013 to the Classic Cuvee 2014, Bluebell’s selections are deliberately fruit forward — often lighter and sweeter to its sister vineyards across the Downs.

The winery’s grounds are studded with bluebell skirting the forest edges, while it’s slightly more inland venue substitutes a clay-based soil for the chalk of the other three vineyards.

Bluebell first released its wine for the 2007 vintage. Since then, its 2011 Blanc de Blancs (a pale, lighter sparkling wine that works perfectly as an aperitif or dessert finisher) recently won the Food Match Trophy at the 2016 Sommelier Wines Awards.

Searcy’s Brasserie and Champagne Bar and Beyond

Searcy’s Brasserie and Champagne Bar (Searcy’s Brasserie and Champagne Bar)

Heading back to the capital city, London is studded with joints that specialize in serving England-made wines.

While the larger operations amongst these four are already sending their wine far and wide across the world, a central London HQ for everything British sparkling is the Searcy’s Brasserie and Champagne Bar in the 150-year-old St. Pancras Station. Offering the longest bar space in Europe – running a floor about the length of the Eurostar Chunnel train’s track, the warm art deco dining room offers lessons in U.K. sparkling from Searcy’s Drinks Ambassador, Joel Claustre.

Afternoon tea at Jean-Georges at The Connaught serves up glasses on English sparkling puts a seasonal amuse-bouche, fresh finger sandwiches, patisseries and all of the trimmings.

Along Piccadilly across from Green Park and in sight of The Ritz, Hide is an independent restaurant and bar set up by Hedonism Wines and Ollie Dabbous. Hedonism’s extensive wine list, including UK offerings from Sussex and beyond. If a diner finds a wine they love, they can pick it up for sale at the nearby Hedonism store in Mayfair.

Finally, the great London steak joint Oblix – positioned high above London more than midway up The Shard – piles British sparkling wines onto its own strong list. While enjoying their top notch meat and seafood with views only the tallest building in Europe can provide, Oblix diners can match white and rose bubbling wines perfected an hour south in not-so-sunny Sussex.

This 1953 Allard J2-X Is Headed to the Auction Block

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Nicknames are a bit like Wikipedia pages.

1953 allard
via Sotheby’s

Earning them generally means — for better or worse — you’ve done something notable.

1953 allard
via Sotheby’s

In the case of the 1953 Allard J2-X, hitting the auction block with Sotheby’s in Monterey this August, its nicknames — “Little Red” and “The Blacksmith’s Revenge” — pay tribute to a wacky treasure of an auto with an even better backstory.

1953 allard
via Sotheby’s

The slow-cooked creation of famed British race driver and car designer Sydney Allard (who made his name stitching cars together during WWII), the Allard is a Frankensteinian bucket of box-section frames, spare parts and an American engine, all somehow coaxed together into the J2-X, a very fast (and very red) dream racing machine.

1953 allard
via Sotheby’s

The best part? Only 83 were ever built. This one runs an Oldsmobile V8, sports a four-speed transmission, and in contrast to the J2 (which Tom Cole and Allard himself raced to third place in Le Mans), features a lengthier cockpit.

1953 allard
via Sotheby’s

Little? Bucket of mismatched parts (check those tiny windshields)? Yes and yes. But mythic nonetheless. Find more info on the upcoming auction here.


Inside the First Ever Sotheby’s Auction Dedicated Entirely to Gold

As financial markets foreign and domestic continue to rise and fall with the tides of the Twittersphere, many business folks are still putting their money into good ole solid gold as a safe haven for investment. It’s a hack that resurged in 2000, and eventually made its way down to local infomercials where even the least savvy capitalists could swap their gold jewelry for cold hard cash. Now, in a play cleverly timed with new heights of market volatility, Sotheby’s has decided to present this hot commodity in its rarest forms with The Midas Touchan auction comprised entirely of golden lots.

An Imperial carved giltwood ceremonial armchair, 1804, commissioned for Napoleon’s Throne Room at the Tuileries. (Sotheby’s)

From Ancient Egypt and the Greek myth of King Midas to the conquest of the New World and the Gold Standard, the items traverse several millennia and take on a slew of shapes, sizes, and, perhaps most importantly in this case, weights from the shockingly pragmatic to the most progressive modern masterpieces. While the Sotheby’s team is still hard at work sourcing the finest in gold specimens, there’s already an “Imperial carved giltwood ceremonial armchair” leading the sale. Dating back to 1804, the chair was originally commissioned for Napoleon’s Throne Room at the Tuileries palace. It’s a rather practical piece of decor, and yours for just $265,000 to $397,000 (£200,000 to  £300,000). Whether you choose to actually sit on it remains at your discretion, but, after all, if it was good enough for Napoleon’s posterior, why not yours?

Marc Quinn, Song of the Siren, 2010 (Sotheby’s)

There’s also a sculpted bust of supermodel Kate Moss, cast in 18-carat gold by British contemporary artist Marc Quinn, who has rendered Moss in various states of undress over the years. This particular rendition, weighing in at a whopping 17.6 pounds and completed in 2010, is entitled “Song of The Siren.” It’s expected to fetch a cool $397,000 to $529,000 (£300,000 t0 £400,000); just a small fraction of the tens of millions in sales anticipated from the event as a whole.

The lots will open up for bidding online beginning Oct. 9, with a live sale taking place at Sotheby’s London headquarters on Oct. 17, where it’s expected that security will be high and the collective net worth of bidders in attendance will somehow be even higher.

The 18 Most Relaxing Hotel Amenities on Earth

A vacation is meant to interrupt the drudgery of your workaday life.

Hence why the British call it a holiday.

But between the planning, schlepping and impending doom that awaits in your inbox upon return, vacations can sometimes feel like a job all their own.

Correcting that? Our guide to 18 decadent, globe-spanning hotels with a single goal in mind: helping you turn your brain off and chill out for once.

From wine bathing in a Tuscan castle to Tahitian massages to a 10-day Ayahuasca retreat, the path to supreme relaxation lies ahead.

Alila Purnama

Alila Purnama
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean

The Details: A five-room, 10-person classical Indonesian Phinisi ship featuring a master suite with 180-degree windows and private deck. Not to mention custom teak furniture throughout and an indoor-outdoor saloon.
The Therapy: When’s the last time you took a private ship to a private beach on a private island? Beyond the full 16-person staff that looks after your every need and curiosity (marine biologist/dive instructor, executive chef, massage therapist, etc.), the Alila Purnama offers the opportunity to charter a trip to your own private oasis.

Hotel do-c Ebisu

Hotel do-c Ebisu
Shibuya, Tokyo

The Details: Capsule hotels are common to Tokyo, but this one feels transported from the future, as guests sleep in small soundproof chambers within a larger vaulted room. It’s basically the world’s most luxurious military barracks.
The Therapy: A Finnish-style spa on premise meant to rejuvenate the body through a traditional cycle of heat exposure and cooling off. Guests check in at 1 P.M. and out at 10 A.M. the next day, with the hours between accounted for with a thorough recharge-and-reset routine.

Four Seasons Vail

Four Seasons Vail
Vail, Colorado

The Details: In addition to easy access to the second largest ski area in North America, this property features a year-round outdoor pool and plenty of outdoor activities, from guided hikes to an all-seasons kids recreation program.
The Therapy: A specially designed spa offering for men which includes a hot milk bath and a glass of local bourbon followed by a full body massage using a Bourbon Bubbler scrub (“an intoxicating blend of brown sugar and real Kentucky Whiskey”).

the Retreat at Blue Lagoon

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon
Grindavik, Iceland

The Details: The Retreat opened earlier this year as the first “luxury hotel” at Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon. Features 62 rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows for unimpeded views of the breathtaking Icelandic countryside.
The Therapy: Unique to this hotel are a handful of suites that have private, direct access to the lagoon itself, meaning you can stroll out of bed and into world-famous mineral hot springs without having to utter a word to anyone.

The Wellesley Knightsbridge

The Wellesley Knightsbridge
London, U.K.

The Details: This 36-room hotel does not shy away when it comes to amenities, which include complimentary butler service, Hermès bathroom supplies and a Rolls-Royce Ghost that’ll taxi guests to anywhere within a 1.5-mile radius.
The Therapy: As if the rest wasn’t enough, The Wellesley also features Europe’s largest in-hotel humidor, as well as a private terrace replete with cigar experts offering a Cigar & Cognac Experience.

Mashpi Lodge

Mashpi Lodge
Quito, Ecuador

The Details: Despite being located within the Metropolitan District of Quito, this property sits in the heart of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest, allowing guests to wake up to canopy views right outside their window.
The Therapy: Aside from a top-notch spa, Mashpi is all about guests immersing themselves in the incredible natural habitat that surrounds the lodge. This includes cloud forest gondola rides, an open air hot tub and a jungle-adjacent yoga deck.

Kasbah Tamadot

Kasbah Tamadot
Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Details: A 28-room hotel from the one and only Sir Richard Branson, the Kasbah is located high up in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and features stunning views of the surrounding landscape and rooms housing antiques from the four corners of the world.
The Therapy: Traditional Moroccan Hammam massages, which, for the uninitiated, feature local black soap and full-body exfoliation using a special mitt. Sounds lovely.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Saariselka, Finland

The Details: This colony of log cabins and glass igloos in the Arctic Circle offers sauna experiences as well as husky and reindeer “safaris.”
The Therapy: Get yourself a glass igloo and fall asleep watching the soothing undulations of the Northern Lights. Stomach sleepers need not apply.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Ubud, Indonesia

The Details: This property looks like a hotel out of James Cameron’s Avatar, situated among the lush vegetation and equipped with a suspension bridge that connects various parts of the property.
The Therapy: Spa features include traditional Balinese Chakra ceremonies as well as riverstone bathing, all set against a tropical rainforest backdrop.

The Jupiter Hotel

The Jupiter Hotel
Portland, Oregon

The Details: Housed in a revitalized motor lodge, this hotel features singularly designed rooms with unique local art, and sits just five minutes from downtown Portland.
The Therapy: A little something they call the 420 package: vape pen, munchies, discount tickets to local dispensaries and more.

The Manta Resort

The Manta Resort
Pemba Island, Tanzania

The Details: The Manta Resort is a gorgeous all-inclusive cluster of seaside villas overlooking the Indian Ocean on Tanzania’s Pemba Island. Daytime activities include scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and safaris.
The Therapy: You’ve heard of sleeping with the fishes? The real crown-jewel of Manta is their Underwater Room, an isolated villa 250 meters with a landing deck, accessible roof for stargazing and an underwater bedroom.


Canyon Point, Utah

The Details: This property is nestled among the canyon- and plateau-filled landscape of southern Utah and allows access to the majestic State and National Parks the American Southwest plays home to.
The Therapy: A world-class spa that draws from local influences: each treatment begins with a traditional Native American ritual known as smudging, which involves burning white sage and fanning it over the body.

Castello di Casole

Castello di Casole
Casole d’Elsa, Italy

The Details: Situated in a former castle in the rolling hills of Tuscany, you can eat and drink till you turn red, white and green in the face here.
The Therapy: Wine baths. Need we say more?

The Way Inn

The Way Inn
Huaraz, Peru

The Details: Located in the Peruvian Andes, this retreat features modern, minimally designed rooms themed inspired by the local community.
The Therapy: A 10-day Ayahuasca- and plant-based cleanse meant to align your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual faculties.

Finca Cortesin

Finca Cortesin
Caseres, Spain

The Details: Featuring 67 rooms that all boast at least four-meter ceilings, this hotel takes its cues from traditional Andalusian design. Plus: a 6,000-square-meter beach club to ensure you get plenty of that Costa Del Sol, uh, sol.
The Therapy: For those of you who seek solace in the links, this property was deemed the top Golf Resort in Europe by Leading Courses. (Editor’s note: Andalusia also invented the siesta, or midday nap, so book an early tee time.)

The Brando

The Brando
Tetiaroa, French Polynesia

The Details: Yes, it’s called the Brando because it was started by Marlon Brando. It sits on an atoll surrounding a three-mile-wide lagoon, features unrivaled beaches and employs a number of cutting-edge technologies with the goal of true carbon neutrality.
The Therapy: Aside from its near isolation, Brando offers a spa that features Taurumi massages, a traditional Tahitian technique with an emphasis on spirituality.

Il Salviatino

Il Salviatino
Florence, Italy

The Details: A hand-restored 15th-century villa with views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan hills where visitors will find the softest Tuscan linens, a two-tiered swimming pool and a sui generis attention to their clients’ ever want and need.
The Therapy: If you wind down by losing yourself in a good book, Il Salviatino features one of the coziest libraries on earth: expect luxurious leather couches and a wide array of rare leather-bound classics.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat
Clanwilliam, South Africa

The Details: If the name doesn’t give it away, you’ll be staying on a nature reserve in the middle of the South African wilderness. Only able to accommodate 34 guests at a time, this is one of Nat Geo’s “Unique Lodges of the World.”
The Therapy: In the inaugural spa and wellness awardsBushman’s Kloof was awarded Best Spa in Africa & the Indian Ocean region. So on top of the safaris, you have that to look forward to.

Atmantan Wellness Resort

Atmantan Wellness Resort
Pune, India

The Details: A well-appointed retreat featuring rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies that open to the densely vegetated Sahyadri Mountains.
The Therapy: Atmantan features multi-day yoga retreats that include individual wellness consultations, body-composition analysis, postural assessment, daily activities and a post-trip assessment.

Note: If you buy through the links in the article, RealClearLife may earn a small share of the profits.

Patagonia’s Updated Arbor Line Is Made 100% From Recycled Material

When it comes to the three Rs, no one does it like Yvon Chouinard’s Patagonia.

After launching reduce hub and reuse program, their latest effort to recycle is simultaneously a waste-management professional and casual hiker’s wet dream: an updated line of Arbor packs made from 100% recycled materials.

arbor pack

The collection includes a top-loading Market Pack 15L ($79), quintessential Daypack 20L ($89), throwback Classic Pack 25L ($99) and hike-ready Grande Pack 28L ($129).

arbor pack
Market Pack 15L ($79)
arbor pack
Daypack 20L ($89)
arbor pack
Classic Pack 25L ($99)
arbor pack
Grande Pack 28L ($129)

Wait a gosh-darn minute, haven’t we seen these designs before? Sure have. The heritage styles are tried-and-true Patagonia fashion, from the durable water-repellent (DWR) finish to the trail-tested pockets and carry straps. But despite their economical price tag, they are now exponentially more environmentally friendly.

The 100% recycled design means that at least 8.5 plastic bottles are reused per bag. And thanks to solution dyeing, 96-percent less carbon dioxide is produced and half a gallon of water is saved per bag compared with conventional methods.

As Popular Mechanic points out, while “heritage design” gets thrown around willy-nilly these days, these bag styles can actually be traced back to the brand’s ‘70s beginnings, when the company was called Chouinard Equipment.

Recycled packs and fun facts to share on the trail? Hand ‘em over.

Note: If you buy from these links, RealClearLife may earn a small share of the profits. 

The Best Music Festivals for the Rest of the Summer

The music festival scene has gone gangbusters. Ashley Flohr, the senior account manager of concerts & live events at Google, notes that in the past 5 to 10 years, the proliferation of music festivals has exploded.

“There used to be a handful of key destination-style music festivals – it has turned into a music festival for every person, city, taste, and style. It changes the landscape,” Flohr said.

With the move towards more boutique festivals, one for every music genre, there is less need to make a pilgrimage to attend. There are more festival opportunities in your own backyard.

“People going all out with costumes and fashion, it isn’t just about the music anymore,” Flohr said.

The Festival Experience

Flohr suggests that you make it a “staycation” if you attend a local festival, or if you are doing a destination, do more than just the festival.

“I’m seeing a trend of using the city as the after party – there are so many more after parties and pre-parties integrated with the festival than ever before,” she said.

Festivals offerings include: lakes, talent shows, late night silent discos, wine tasting, beer gardens, themed bars like saloons, Ted Talk-like readings, and hands-on workshops.

Amidst the growing popularity of boutique festivals, larger festivals that offer many of the same lineups are working to differentiate themselves through these unique event experiences. From pop-ups to sponsored parties, the ground level offerings have grown exponentially.

“You could go to Palm Springs during Coachella and not even go to the festival,” she said.

Flohr explains that the manifold offshoot events allow you to curate your own experience: “Because music festivals are taking the approach of South by Southwest and offering a menu of events, you can explore and don’t have to be confined to a playpen all day.”

While attendees focus on creative self-expression and festival fashion, festival production is focused on wow factors and large-scale photogenic art. Examples include drones that look like fireworks or installations using recycled materials, with lots of crossover artists and blending of genres.

Flohr reminds festival goers to be prepared. If you’re going to a camping festival, you’re in that world for the weekend. There is a wealth of information online, so make sure you have everything you need.

“Every time I see a sad girl wearing nothing at night,” Flohr said as she shook her head. “Dress trendy and appropriately. This is especially true at Burning Man where it gets down to 30 degrees in the desert at night.”

Flohr recommends Everfest for all your festival questions.

Festival Highlights

A fan at the Pitchfork Festival at Union Park on July 15, 2017 in Chicago.(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Pitchfork Music Festival – Next weekend (July 20-22) in Chicago, this indie music fest features the best and most promising indie stars. Flohr says that it’s small, but always a great festival.

Festivalgoers are seen at the 2017 Panorama Music Festival at Randall’s Island on July 30, 2017 in New York City. (Noam Galai/WireImage)

Panorama Music Festival – Coming up on the last weekend of July (July 27-29) at Randall’s Island Park, Panorama is a refreshing divergence from your typical music festival. Headliners include Janet Jackson and Lil Wayne. Flohr says it’s so diverse you can’t even categorize it.

General atmosphere seen on day four of Lollapalooza at Grant Park on August 6, 2017 in Chicago. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Lollapalooza – Lollapalooza goes off on the first weekend in August (August 2-5). Attracting a younger crowd, you can expect a huge mass of people. Mini-festivals spin off at night, so you can continue the experience throughout Chicago.

Burning Man (Ashley Flohr)

Burning Man – Burning Man (August 6-September 3) is in a festival class all its own. Founded on 10 guiding principles including radical inclusion, gifting, immediacy, and decommodification, it is a celebration of arts, a microeconomy, and will transform your idea of a festival.

Flohr is a Burning Man fan, but warns that “You’re going to earn your way – there are music festivals, and then there is Burning Man. It is not for the faint of heart … it’s a weeklong commitment, a huge collaboration. It’s very difficult and wears you down in a good way, because it isn’t easy to get to or easy to prepare for.”

“The first thing it tells you when you sign up is that you might die at Burning Man, which is a far cry from Coachella as a destination music festival, where you could have a 5-star experience.”

Flohr recommends Burning Man for anyone who feels like they’ve seen it all.

International Festivals

If, however, the pilgrimage aspect of music festivals appeals to you, you can always satiate your wanderlust with a trip abroad.

Bjork and Arca perform onstage during Fuji Rock Festival 2017 on July 30, 2017 in Yuzawa, Japan. (Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

There are several international music festivals to choose from, including Fuji Rock in Japan at the end of July and Splore in New Zealand (where it’s summer in February).

Splore 2017 at Tapapakanga Park, in Orere Point, New Zealand. (Splore)

This Hungarian Craftsman Makes Furniture From Old Bourbon Barrels

The Adirondack chair was invented exactly as one hopes it was: by a guy on summer vacation in need of some patio furniture. That man was Thomas Singer, the year was 1903, and the destination was — you guessed it — Upstate New York. More than a century later, little has changed: 11 wooden boards, straight back, sloped seat and armrests wide enough to ballast a cocktail glass or two.

Park a pair of those puppies on a porch and get busy growing old. They’ll hang in right there with you.

But if you’re buying a chair that will stick around forever, do you really want it to resemble every other patio chair in town? Why not go with something different, handmade, unequivocally yours?

That’s where craftsman Balazs Maldovan and his Etsy store, the Hungarian Workshop, come in. Maldovan was building patio furniture out of redwood when he moved to San Diego and linked up with Stone Brewery, a massive brewhouse based out of Escondido. Stone sent an old bourbon barrel his way, requesting an Adirondack chair. Maldovan obliged. Hungarian was born.

These days, Maldovan’s filled out his furniture offerings — barstools, pub chairs — and added an unexpected mix of wares, selling everything from bar-tap handles to farmhouse clocks to longboards.

Working with bourbon barrels, predictably, has its challenges: Maldovan spends a decent amount of time online hustling to find more barrels (some whiskey, some wine), while the curved, omni-unique nature of barrel staves makes them difficult to wrangle together. Not to mention, the broad range of his products makes some options far more difficult to build than others — assembling a chess set can take as long as multiple lounge chairs.

Below, we’ve chosen five of our favorites from his hard-earned collection. Some small, some tall, all made from barrels that once housed some good hooch. Hope you’ve been saving.

farmhouse clock

Farmhouse Clock
“Clock face” barrel heads from a variety of different distilleries. Handsome as all heck-fire.

pub stools

Pub Stools
The dream barroom starts here. There’s something effortlessly satisfying about those random numbers on the seat, too.

barrel chair

Barrel Chair
Full. Grain. Italian. Leather. We’ll take two.

Hungarian Workshop’s signature hotcake. Approachably priced, and those curved staves work overtime on lumbar support.


The product of working beachside for years. It’s fitted with over-sized wheels for a smooth cruise.

Note: If you buy through the links in the article, RealClearLife may earn a small share of the profits.

This Cherry Red Ducati Scrambler 803 Is Eye-Catching and Brilliant

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ducati scrambler

Another day, another breathtaking custom bike making us consider a new major life purchase and attendant midlife crisis. Today it’s a cherry red Ducati Scrambler 803 designed by London-based deBolex Engineering.

The team were given free reign on this private commission, and true to their style no detail was spared. DeBolex is a small custom shop that carries the torch of adventurous ‘50s and ‘60s-era race-car culture, when heavier parts were swapped off saloon cars and replaced with aluminum to test the limits of the machines and their drivers. Their mods preserve the essence of the originals but are built with components that make for easier, more efficient driving and — let’s be honest — better looks to boot. And they’re not shy about keeping stock parts where they do they job, keeping the bikes from veering into hyper-designed, pure-art territory.

ducati scrambler

On this Scrambler, they’ve added a custom-made exhaust, Andreani fork cartridges, Maxton shock, an Accossato throttle and switches, Venhill brake lines and more. Talking to Bike Exif, deBolex described the unusual design: “We’re forever inspired by classic race machines … and we always had one direction planned for this project: a full fairing. This diverted us away from our distinctive belly pan and radiator cowling design. And required a re-think on how we could incorporate more intricate elements, such as the oil cooler and air intake openings, using similar build techniques.”

ducati scrambler

A bit more about the Scrambler: it’s an early effort Ducati targeted at Americans that was successful not for speed (it’s Ducati’s least powerful bike) but because of its supreme performance for its purpose (mucking around and having fun) and curvy, stylish looks. Production was halted in 1974 and only just reintroduced in 2015, again targeting a more casual, dare we say entry-level rider with a surprisingly accessible price point (compared to the $65K+ tags that come with some of their higher-end builds). You can get a new Scrambler starting around $8,500, and with the modifications you might have in mind, the sky’s the limit.

ducati scrambler

In other words, it’s the perfect canvas for custom bike shops to go absolutely HAM. Keep ‘em comin’.