Controversial Things Everyone Just Ignores About Martha Stewart

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For decades, Martha Stewart has forged an identity as the soft-spoken, mild-mannered queen of domestication. This image helped make Stewart not just a household name the world over, but also led her to become the country's first female self-made billionaire.

But there's more than meets the eye to this lifestyle guru. As her infamous insider trading scandal shows us, Stewart has been no stranger to controversy. At times, these scandals have gotten her in hot water with the law or resulted in some very tense or broken relationships. They certainly are not on-brand with the wholesome image Stewart has curated over the years. 

Whether it's insulting an entire generation of people, creating a rift with her daughter, speaking a little too highly of herself, or starting feuds with numerous people, Stewart has had more than a few less than flattering moments. Here are a few controversial things everyone just ignores about Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart lied to federal investigators

The biggest controversy surrounding Martha Stewart was her insider trading scandal. Back in 2001, Martha Stewart avoided an approximately $50,000 loss when she sold stock in a pharmaceutical company based on the tip that the company's CEO was dumping his stock. (It is illegal to buy or sell stock based on information that is not publicly available.)

Most people believe that this insider trading was what landed Stewart in prison. That's not the case. Stewart was actually convicted of obstruction of justice. During the investigation, she told federal officials that she never received the information and instead had an agreement with her stockbroker to sell if the stock fell below $60. The one document to back up this claim was proven to be a forgery.

Stewart was ultimately convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal investigators. She was given a sentence of five months, plus two years of probation.

Martha Stewart broke house arrest

Speaking of her time in jail, many people believe Stewart served a relatively light sentence at a pretty cushy prison before being put on house arrest. But apparently that was still too much for her. Following her five-month stay at a West Virginia prison, Stewart was sentenced to five additional months of house arrest. And even though she lives on a massive estate, it wasn't large enough to contain her.

According to the New York Post, Stewart was allowed to leave her home for up to 48 hours per week, but only to attend work, church, doctor appointments, and food shopping. But she was spotted around town taking a yoga class and book shopping, among other activities. The Post also reported that Stewart gave an interview in which she "mimicked the voice of her probation officer, bragged of knowing how to remove her electronic monitoring anklet, and spoke of leaving the confines of her house."

Not surprisingly, this did not please authorities. Stewart was forced to spend an extra three weeks of home timeout to think about her actions.

Martha Stewart thinks millennials are lazy

To most, Stewart is simply the soft-spoken homemaker that just wants to make you freshly baked pie. But looks can be deceiving as Stewart is never shy about sharing her opinion of people ... or entire groups of people.

One segment of the population Stewart isn't warm on is millennials. She let loose on the younger generation in Luxury Listings NYC magazine (via Inc.), saying, "I think every business is trying to target millennials. But who are millennials? Now we are finding out that they are living with their parents. They don't have the initiative to go out and find a little apartment and grow a tomato plant on the terrace... I understand the plight of younger people... The economic circumstances out there are very grim. But you have to work for it. You have to strive for it. You have to go after it."

Stewart is essentially calling all millennials lazy. She softens the blow slightly with the acknowledgment of the "economic circumstances" the generation has faced but didn't give it much credence. Millennials have actually seen the slowest economic growth of any generation in history. The Washington Post went as far as labeling them the unluckiest generation ever. It's also not a great business move for Stewart as there are more millennials in America than any other generation.

Martha Stewart's parenting has been called into question

If you're in the limelight, you're always going to be the target of some negative comments. It's one thing for an outsider to dish these out, it's quite another for them to come from someone close to you, such as your daughter.

In 2011, Stewart's only daughter, Alexis, published a book entitled Whateverland: Learning to Live Here. In it, the younger Stewart said some unflattering things about her mother.

According to People, some of the claims Alexis leveled against her mother included: peeing with the bathroom door open and not keeping any sort of prepared foods in the house. Alexis went on to say that her mother was "a hoarder" who took "a very hands-off approach to child-rearing." Stewart's daughter even said that her mother refused to get her a bra when she started puberty.

It wasn't just Alexis who got the short end of the stick, Martha didn't seem to go out of her way for any children. Alexis wrote that on Halloween, her mother used to turn all the lights off and pretend no one was home. All the negative commentary doesn't seem to have caused any strife between the duo. Alexis still dedicated the book to her mother, who called the read "hilarious."

Martha Stewart's former best friend doesn't have nice things to say about her

Stewart's daughter isn't the only insider to call out the star's behavior. Her former best friend referred to Stewart as a "sociopath," amongst many other things.

In the 1970s, Stewart and her then-husband Andy purchased a rundown house in Connecticut. The pair spent years refurbishing the place. It was during this time that Stewart developed the homemaking and catering skills that would make her a media mogul. She enlisted the help of her friend and mentor Norma Collier to turn these hobbies into a career. But after a few months of success, Stewart abruptly dropped her partner, cutting her friend out of the upshot commercial business. Collier was quoted as saying Stewart is "a sociopath and a horrible woman, and I never want to encounter her again or think about her as long as I live."

During this time, Stewart's relationship with her husband and daughter began to deteriorate, as well. She was accused of being controlling, domineering, and belittling her husband for not being a good provider.

Martha Stewart might be a control freak

It comes as no surprise that Stewart is a perfectionist. But that demanding personality apparently went too far in the workplace. In a Vanity Fair article, one former executive Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said, "The company should be more successful, but it is just limping along, because of her — because she doesn't trust anybody and she has to control everything... Martha is delightful, charming, brilliant, fascinating — if you are in the room alone with her. You bring a third person in and it becomes poisonous. She has to dominate."

The article also paints Stewart as being exceedingly greedy to the point that it put her business in financial trouble. One executive said, "Martha's an omnivore. She just wants more, more, more." Others concurred, stating that Stewart always put herself before the company. "[Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia] was almost like two companies: one was the group of people who were trying to run a company that is publicly held. The other was Martha's camp: the little girl who is trying to make sure that she gets as much money as she can."

Martha Stewart compared herself to Nelson Mandela

When Stewart was sentenced to jail for obstruction of justice she naturally tried to save face as much as possible. After all, she was a highly public figure and media mogul who surely had big plans for her post-prison life. Any damage control she could do would go a long way.

She tried to accomplish this through an interview with Barbara Walters. On the same day of her prison sentencing, she sat down with the esteemed journalist. Unfortunately, there was one quote that did Stewart no favors at all. Trying to lessen the magnitude of a prison sentence, the domestic diva said, "Many good people have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela."

Nelson Mandela served 21 years in jail for fighting for equal rights under apartheid rule in South Africa. That's not quite the same thing as cheating in order save a few dollars and then lying about it to law enforcement.

To be fair, Stewart later backtracked off the comment, but surely there was already some damage done.

Martha Stewart once tried to trademark a town and Native American name

Katonah is a suburban town just north of New York City. It also happens to be where Martha Stewart lives. She purchased a 152-acre property there in 2000. One would assume she liked the house. Turns out she also had an affinity for the name of the town.

In 2007, Stewart attempted to trademark the name "Katonah" for use on home furnishings, paints, and other products. Her neighbors were none too pleased and fought to stop the trademark. Ultimately, the two sides reached a compromise. Stewart could use the name only for furniture, mirrors, pillows, and chair cushions and not hardware, paint, lighting, and home textiles.

But it wasn't just the residents of a single town that Stewart angered. She also insulted the indigenous people of the region. Katonah is a Native American name belonging to a 17th-century chief and the local Cayuga Nation wanted no part in sharing it with Stewart. At the time, a representative said, "If it's being done for profit, then of course it's offensive. Of all the names in the world and all the words, why can't she pick something out that's not offensive?"

Martha Stewart was sued by a major business partner

Surely the country's most famous homemaker would only find herself in court once in her life. Unfortunately for Stewart, that was not the case.

In 2012, Macy's sued Stewart's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., for breach of contract. The department store agreed to become the exclusive provider of certain Martha Stewart products in 2006. Just a few months later, Stewart signed a separate deal with J. C. Penney Company, Inc. to sell Martha Stewart-branded goods beginning in 2013, when the Macy's deal was still in place.

It took a year of legal back and forth for the case to be settled. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it only hurt Stewart's reputation. Just a few years after returning from prison, she was back in court, for essentially the same crime: not being true to her word. Previously, she had been convicted of being a liar. This time it was for reneging on her initial contract. This isn't a great reputation for a public figure trying to convince consumers to purchase her products.

Martha Stewart's been mean to Gwyneth Paltrow

Stewart soft-spoken nature belies an inner mean streak. She certainly isn't afraid to unleash her inner critic, no matter how famous or powerful the victim may be. Stewart's most notable feud is with actress Gwyneth Paltrow. It started back in 2013, when Stewart told Bloomberg TV, "I haven't eaten at Gwyneth's house, and I've never seen how she lives. But if she is authentic, all the better. I mean, I certainly hope she is ... She's a charming, pretty person who has a feeling for lifestyle. She wants to be a lifestyle arbiter. Fine. Good. I think I started this whole category of lifestyle."

A year later, Stewart was more aggressive, saying in an interview that Paltrow "just needs to be quiet. She's a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart." Stewart wasn't finished and a few months later featured a pie recipe in her magazine entitled "Conscious Uncoupling." This was a clear shot at the actress' divorce from Chris Martin, in which the couple referred to the split as "conscious uncoupling."

The Academy Award winner's company Goop followed suit, posting a recipe for "jailbird cake." Paltrow was later quoted as saying, sarcastically, "No one has ever said anything bad about me before, so I'm shocked and devastated. I'll try to recover."

She's been mean to plenty of other people

Paltrow isn't the only famous face to be on the wrong side of a Stewart barb. In her first interview after being released from jail, Stewart went after Rachel Ray. She told Nightline Ray's newly released cookbook is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. "[Ray] is more of an entertainer... with her bubbly personality, than she is a teacher, like me," Stewart said. "That's not what she's professing to be."

In 2013, Stewart appeared on Bethany Frankel's talk show where the two tried to clear the air about their tense relationship on Celebrity Apprentice: Martha Stewart. When Frankel said it didn't feel like Stewart liked her, Stewart bluntly replied, "You were a pest."

Stewart also took a veiled dig at the one and only Oprah Winfrey. In 2010, Stewart appeared on Winfrey's show to talk about her experience in prison and appeared upset that the queen of all media never visited her. "I used the time extremely well and I had visitors all the time, very good visitors," she said, "A whole lot of fabulous people came and visited me. I knew you were too busy."