Martha Stewart is released from prison. Sprung from Camp Cupcake after midnight, she flies to her New York farm for five months of house arrest

By Gary Susman
March 04, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Martha Stewart: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty

Most prisoners, upon release from the federal prison in Alderson, W. Va, are driven to the bus station and given a one-way ticket out of town. Not federal inmate 55170-054, better known to you as Martha Stewart. At 12:30 a.m. Friday morning, Stewart was driven to a nearby airport in an SUV with darkened windows. There, she boarded a private jet and waved to TV cameras, shooting from a flatbed truck her company had rented for the occasion, before the plane took off. Two hours later, she was home at her farm in upstate New York, where she’ll spend the next five months under house arrest.

During her five months behind bars, the 63-year-old mogul spent her days cleaning, cooking, foraging for wild greens, and teaching yoga classes. (She also reportedly lost 20 pounds.) In a statement posted Friday on her corporate website, she called her prison experience ”life-altering and life-affirming.” Her prison term was healthy for her company, too; during the five months she’s been paying her debt to society, the share price of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has doubled to $34, adding about half a billion dollars of paper wealth to Stewart’s own net worth.

Stewart, who is still planning to appeal her conviction for lying to the government about her ImClone stock sale, opted to serve the prison half of her sentence beginning last fall, saying that she wanted to be home again in time for March planting in her garden. The terms of her home confinement sentence may not make that possible, though, since her electronic ankle bracelet will keep her from leaving the house. She’ll be allowed to go outside for 48 hours a week, and only for work, grocery shopping, religious services, or medical treatment.

At least she’ll be able to conduct business, which she was not allowed to do at the prison nicknamed ”Camp Cupcake,” though she received frequent visits from business associates there. As a convicted felon, she won’t be able to return to her old job as CEO of MSLO, but she’ll remain the company’s creative director, penning a column for her magazine and planning her two forthcoming TV shows: a revamped version of her daytime homemaking show and a primetime spinoff of The Apprentice.

”Someday, I hope to have the chance to talk more about all that has happened, the extraordinary people I have met [at Alderson] and all that I have learned,” Stewart said in her statement. ”Right now, as you can imagine, I am thrilled to be returning to my more familiar life. My heart is filled with joy at the prospect of the warm embraces of my family, friends and colleagues. Certainly, there is no place like home.”