Martha Stewart Finds It's Lonely on the Way Down

ByABC News
March 17, 2004, 4:27 PM

March 11 -- As the saying goes, it's lonely at the top. And as Martha Stewart is finding out, it doesn't matter whether you're on your way up or as the case is now down.

Never a beloved figure in her town of Westport, Conn., ("She has zero friends here," says local resident Paula Conway), the domestic diva, just weeks before her conviction on obstruction of justice, making false statements and conspiracy charges, seemed especially alone on a mid-February outing when she hit a local movie theater late on a Tuesday night.

"She looked terrible," Conway says. "She had bags under her eyes."

While her mother, Martha Kostyra, 89, and daughter, Alexis, 38, have been by her side through her ordeal, others have stopped returning her calls. "In recent weeks, she was mostly unsettled by the lack of support from people who claimed to be her friends," says R. Couri Hay, society editor of Hamptons and Gotham magazines, who has known Stewart for 20 years. "[Her famous friends] have turned their backs on her." Losing Control Not A Good Thing

Indeed, for Stewart, a former stockbroker who launched a billion-dollar homemaking empire, life these days is not such "a good thing."

Stewart has been forced to give up control of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., lost hundreds of millions as her company's stock price plunged and become fodder for late-night comedians. It's all because the 62-year-old sold nearly 4,000 shares in pal Sam Waksal's company, ImClone Systems, on Dec. 27, 2001, then lied about receiving a tip that Waksal was about to sell his shares (he knew that the FDA wasn't going to approve ImClone's cancer drug).

The move saved her about $51,000 in losses, but may have cost Stewart her freedom. "I don't really think she was driven by greed," says Christopher Byron, author of the unauthorized Stewart biography, Martha Inc.