Friday, April 02, 2010

Australian "Ned Kelly" painting sells for record

Pauline Askin
SYDNEY, March 31 (Reuters) - Australia's most expensive painting, a Sidney Nolan "Ned Kelly" work, was given away on Wednesday only days after setting the nation's art record.
Caption: This photo released by auction house Menzies Art Brand shows a reproduction of Sidney Nolan's 'First Class Marksman', a painting of the famed Australian bank robber and bushranger Ned Kelly which has sold for 5.4 million Australian dollars ($4.9 mln) on March 25, smashing the previous record for an Australian artwork sold at auction in Sydney.(AFP/HO/File/Menzies Art Brand)
The painting, titled "First-Class Marksman", of Australia's iconic outlaw sold at auction last Thursday for A$5.4 million (US$4.96 million).

Less than a week later the previously anonymous buyer, the Gleeson O'Keefe Foundation, stepped forward and donated the painting to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
"They've bought this really signature Nolan work for us, which we are absolutely thrilled about and it was A$5.4 million and it looks fantastic on our wall," said Clare Martin, the gallery's media manager.
Dubbed the missing Nolan, art market experts say the painting reached a staggering price because it was the only work in the Ned Kelly series that remained in private hands. The other 26 are at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.
Sidney Nolan is considered Australia's most internationally acclaimed artist. Nolan died in 1992.
"First Class Marksman" depicts Kelly wearing a square metal helmet over his head, which he used as armour to protect himself from police, and pointing a rifle into the Australian bush.
"I think this sale certainly puts us on the world stage and indeed a record for Australian art," Litsa Veldekis, chief executive officer of Menzies Auctions in Sydney, told Reuters.
The previous record for a Sidney Nolan piece, titled "Death of Constable Scanlon", sold for A$1.3 million in 2000. The highest price for an Australian painting prior to Thursday's auction was in 2007, when Brett Whiteley's "The Olgas for Ernest Giles", sold for A$3.4 million.
The Gleeson O'Keefe Foundation was set up by surrealist painter James Gleeson, who died in 2008, and his longtime partner Frank O'Keefe to acquire and give to the Art Gallery of New South Wales works of lasting importance.
(Reporting by Pauline Askin; Editing by Alex Richardson)
GetRTR 3.00 -- MAR 31, 2010 14:13:05

Wanted: Investors to turn Saddam's villas into gold By Sabah al-Bazi

TIKRIT, Iraq, March 31 (Reuters Life!) - Saddam Hussein made his palaces a desert paradise, but now his hometown is seeking foreign investors to turn the late dictator's playground into a tourist mecca.
Local officials see the 76 abandoned Saddam villas sprawled across hundreds of hectares (acres) as a potential gold mine for Tikrit's cash-strapped Salahuddin province.
"These villas only need rehabilitation and a few other things to turn the whole area into a wonderful tourism site," Jewher Hamad al-Fahel, the head of Salahuddin's investment commission, told Reuters Television.
Saddam built big at Tikrit, his tribal stronghold about 150 km north of Baghdad. He put up six villas at his birthplace, the village of al-Awja, alone and made the Tikrit palace complex his largest.
Boasting artificial lakes and date orchards, the site totals 136 buildings and covers more than 400 hectares, according to the US Army. American troops used it as a base until turning it over to Iraqi authorities in November 2005.
Now many of the sand-colored structures, often domed and turreted and with marbled interiors, sit decaying near the Tigris River. Some still show heavy damage from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Saddam.
Salahuddin Governor Mutasher Hussein Allawi said he was eager to smooth the way for foreign investment in the villas since his budget was too small to rebuild decrepit infrastructure quickly.
"Iraq needs huge investment companies, because the devastation that took place after 2003 is something terrible", he said.
Foreign tourists to Iraq are overwhelmingly Muslim pilgrims visiting holy sites, with a handful of visitors drawn to ancient ruins.
The number of religious visitors hit 1.25 million last year, more than doubling since 2007 as violence has eased, according to a Tourism and Antiquities Ministry spokesman.
Iraqis seeking an in-country getaway tend to go to mountain areas in the north.
Tikrit's would not be the first Saddam mansion to be turned into a resort. A guesthouse at a hulking palace at Babylon, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, has become a popular spot for honeymooners.
Central and southern Iraq hold about 160 Saddam mansions, 60 in Baghdad alone. Those in the mainly Kurdish north have yet to be tallied.
On a bustling Tikrit street, resident Abdulla Mohammed said he welcomed foreign investment.
"Salahuddin's security situation is good compared with other provinces, we are upbeat about the future," he said.
Salahuddin province's stance underscores Iraq's eagerness for outside investment. Deputy Industry Minister Adel Karim told Reuters Iraq could offer production-sharing deals with state companies to draw foreign investors.
(Additional reporting by Aseel Kami, writing by Ian Simpson, editing by Paul Casciato)
GetRTR 3.00 -- MAR 31, 2010 16:13:14

Man rams car into parked plane in Nigeria

Ani Akpan
CALABAR, Nigeria, April 1 (Reuters) - A man who claimed to have been sent by Jesus to punish sinners rammed his car into a parked plane at an airport in southeastern Nigeria , an aviation spokesman said on Thursday.
No one was hurt in the incident on Wednesday and the spokesman said Nigeria had no problem with security.
The United States put Nigeria on a list of countries needing to improve security after Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested on suspicion of trying to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner in December using explosives hidden in his underwear.
"There is no problem at all at our airports, no cause for alarm, as we have the necessary security on the ground," said Akin Olukunle, spokesman for the Federal Airport Authority.
He said the driver had broken through two security gates at Calabar international airport and rammed his car into the Arik Air plane before soldiers arrested him.
The suspect was heard yelling that all Nigerians were sinners and must repent or perish, a reporter who was at the airport said. The man, who is from Nigeria's southeastern state of Akwa Ibom, said he had been sent by Jesus Christ.
Authorities were questioning him in Calabar.
The crew of the plane, which had arrived from Lagos and was on its way to the capital Abuja, were not injured and no passengers were on board at the time.
"Our men rushed to the scene and evacuated crew members on board," Olukunle said. "We have beefed up security."
A bomb squad found no explosives in the car and flights continued despite the incident.
(Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Angus MacSwan)
APR 1, 2010 17:24:50

Unpaid Spanish air hostesses strip in protest

Adriana Ricardo
MADRID, March 31 (Reuters Life!) - Flight attendents owed up to nine months' wages by a grounded Spanish airline have posed nude for a calendar to draw attention to their plight, one of the cabin crew turned models said on Wednesday.
The calendar, numerous excerpts of which appeared in the Spanish media, shows the Air Comet attendants, all female, posing provocatively in and outside airline cabins, and in one case on top of a jet turbine.
"We are just demanding our rights to receive what is ours, we each have eight or nine months of unpaid salaries," attendant Adriana Ricardo, who appears in the calendar, told Reuters.
Air Comet, run by the embattled chairman of Spain's main employers' association CEOE, Gerardo Ferran, filed for administration in December after a British court impounded nine of its aircraft at the request of German bank HSH Nordbank.
(Reporting by Jonathan Gleave, editing by Paul Casciato)
MAR 31, 2010 22:16:15

Club gears up rugby sevens for youth

Matheos V. Messakh , Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 04/01/2010 2:03 PM | Sports

Global Jaya Bintaro high school scored a 19-10 win over Labschool Kebayoran Baru to mark its status as the first high school to win the first Britmindo Schools Rugby Sevens after two rounds Wednesday.

In the match for the third and fourth place earlier in the evening, SMA 3 high school defeated Al-Chasanah 29-0.

Britmindo Schools Rugby Sevens is a rugby sevens competition held by Labschool Kebayoran Baru and Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club (JBRC) to introduce and develop rugby among the youth.

The two-day tournament includes SMA 3 high school Jakarta, Labschool Kebayoran Baru, Global Jaya Bintaro high school and Al-Chasanah high school Tanjung Duren.

The girls division will be held Thursday with participants from the same schools.

The tournament was part of the club effort to introduce rugby sevens among the youth especially after Oct. 9 2009 when the International Olympic Committee voted to include rugby sevens in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"We are looking ahead to a bigger event now and see the inclusion of rugby seven in the Olympics as a good opportunity. We want to take it further to introduce it to young people, hopefully we can also include it in the Southeast Asian *SEA* Games," said Denny, chairman of the Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club.

The Jakarta Banteng Rugby Club was developed in 2004 by Indonesian Rugby Football Union as a pioneer of the National Rugby team in Jakarta and surrounding areas.

They have been holding regular training sessions throughout the year for all levels of players, from juniors to the first 15 competitive teams.

The club has players who have been involved in coaching at schools and universities in Greater Jakarta including Darunnajah Islamic school, SMAN 3 high school, SMA Lab school Kebayoran, Cita Buana, Sekolah Pelita Harapan, Sekolah Global Jaya, Monash College Jakarta, Trisakti University, Tarumanegara University and Jakarta State University.

Rugby is now played regularly in 12 provinces in Indonesia with players numbering in the hundreds, along with a growing number of supporters.