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Martha Stewart says stock sale probe has cost her $400 million

NEW YORK (AP) _ Domesticity maven Martha Stewart estimates she has lost $400 million because of the federal investigation into her ImClone stock trade, she told The New Yorker magazine.

The story by writer Jeffrey Toobin, which reaches newsstands Monday, is based on Stewart's first lengthy media interview on the subject since news broke last June that federal prosecutors were investigating her sale of ImClone System Inc. shares.

She told Toobin that the losses have been mostly in the decline in value of her more than 30 million shares in her multimedia company, but also in legal fees and lost business opportunities.

Stewart noted that her image has suffered and said she's ``puzzled by the public's delight'' in her troubles.

``My business is about homemaking,'' she said. ``And that I have been turned into or vilified openly as something other than what I really am has been really confusing.''

She added, ``It's sort of the American way to go up and down the ladder, maybe several times in a lifetime. And I've had a real long up ... And now I've had a long way down.''

The Jan. 19 interview took place at Stewart's Westport, Conn., home for several hours with several of her advisers, the magazine said.

Stewart, chairman and chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, discussed her sentiments about the probe and the public reaction. She would not speak on the record about the facts of the case and a magazine spokeswoman declined to say whether Stewart's lawyer was present.

Federal prosecutors are increasing pressure on Stewart concerning her sale of 3,928 ImClone shares on Dec. 27, 2001, the day before the Food and Drug Administration announced it would not review the biotech company's application for a promising cancer drug called Erbitux. The stock subsequently plummeted.

Stewart is a friend of Sam Waksal, a co-founder of ImClone. She has maintained her innocence, saying she had an agreement with her broker to sell the stock if it dropped below $60.

In coming weeks, officials in the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission will decide whether to charge Stewart with securities law violations.

Stewart said she'd never leave her company, and has been able to stay focused on her business.

``I'm real lucky, because I am able to sort of compartmentalize,'' she said. ``I can be concerned on one hand, and be productive on the other hand ... I can still sleep.''
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