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Giacometti sculpture in sealed bid auction – starting price $90mn

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A sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti is being auctioned by Sotheby’s with a reserve price of $90 million but the winning offer on Tuesday could remain secret as it is being sold by sealed bid.

If “Grande femme I” sells for more than $100 million, Giacometti will equal Pablo Picasso as only the second artist with four works beyond that threshold.

The nearly nine-foot (2.68 meter) bronze of a spindly female figure, cast in 1960, is part of a series of large outdoor sculptures originally intended for Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York but never installed.

Under the rules of the hybrid auction, interested buyers can make only one secret bid of at least $90 million.

The auction closes at 1600 GMT Tuesday and the work will go to the highest bid, if it is at least five percent higher than the second highest, otherwise a second round will take place.

Unlike a traditional auction, Sotheby’s will not reveal the purchase price, although the buyer can if they wish.

Since 2010, three works by the Swiss artist, known for his elongated, emaciated figures, have already sold for more than $100 million, the only sculptures to have reached this level.

“L’homme au doigt” (Man Pointing), a 1947 bronze, sold for $141.3 million at Christie’s in New York in 2015, the most expensive sculpture sold at auction.

“Grande femme I” is “the culminating example” of Giacometti’s work, said Brooke Lampley, vice chairman of Sotheby’s global fine art division.

“This work is really the apotheosis of his exploration of the female standing figure over the course of his lifetime,” she said.

“It’s mesmerizing. It places us in the artwork. How you encounter it and how it makes you feel is so much part of the work and his intention.”

Throughout his career, the sculptor gradually enlarged the size of his works up to the monumental “Grande femme I” towards the end of his life.

“The Grande femme is intended to be vast, enormous and dwarfing to a regular human,” said Lampley, to stimulate “reflection and an introspection about your place in the world.”

The star of the autumn sales at Sotheby’s, the “Grande femme” will be followed on Wednesday by a sale of contemporary art and a second of Impressionist works and modern art.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201026/giacometti-sculpture-in-sealed-bid-auction-starting-price-90mn/57450.html

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Cher welcomes ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ to new home in Cambodia

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Superstar Cher welcomed “the world’s loneliest elephant” to Cambodia Monday to begin a new life at a specialised sanctuary after the creature was rescued from grim conditions in a Pakistani zoo.

The plight of Kaavan — a 36-year-old bull elephant at Islamabad’s dilapidated zoo and originally from Sri Lanka — sparked global uproar from animal rights groups, who launched a campaign to save him.

His cause was boosted by spirited social media support from actress and musician Cher, who travelled to see him off from Pakistan and then to Cambodia to welcome him to his new home.

Wearing a black face mask, the Oscar winner was on hand at Siem Reap airport and waved excitedly at the plane after it landed around 2:30 pm (0730 GMT).

“I am so proud he is here,” she told AFP, after greeting Kaavan through an opening at the base of the crate.

“He’s going to be really happy here,” said Cher, adding that she was hopeful his ordeal was over.

Dubbed the world's loneliest elephant by the press, Kaavan was the only Asian elephant in Pakistan. Photo: AFP

Dubbed the world’s loneliest elephant by the press, Kaavan was the only Asian elephant in Pakistan. Photo: AFP

Mammoth undertaking

Kaavan’s much-anticipated journey was “uneventful”, said Amir Khalil, a veterinarian from animal welfare group Four Paws, adding he behaved “like a frequent flyer”.

“Kaavan was eating, was not stressed — he was even a little bit sleeping, standing, leaning at the crate wall,” he said.

Transporting an adult elephant by plane is no small task, and has only been undertaken a handful of times.

Helpers packed his trunk with 200 kilos (450 pounds) of food to snack on during the seven-hour flight, while a tube system was installed in his transport crate aboard a jumbo Russian cargo plane to handle up to 200 litres (58 gallons) of urine.

After Kaavan touched down, monks offered him fruit, chanted prayers and sprinkled holy water on his crate to bless him.

For the last leg, he was loaded onto a truck for the three-hour journey to his new home, a wildlife sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province which already hosts three female elephants.

Cher followed behind in her own vehicle as Kaavan made his way through farmland and past the famous Angkor Wat temple.

“Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be ‘the world’s loneliest elephant’,” deputy environment minister Neth Pheaktra said.

“We expect to breed Kaavan with local elephants — this is an effort to conserve the genetic fold,” the minister told AFP.

After being unloaded from his giant travelling crate, Kaavan walked around his new enclosure — perhaps glad to stretch his legs after his long journey.

Cher was at Siem Reap airport and waved excitedly at the plane after it landed. Photo: AFP

Cher was at Siem Reap airport and waved excitedly at the plane after it landed. Photo: AFP

Years of campaigning

Kaavan’s move is the culmination of years of campaigning from animal rights groups, who say the animal’s behaviour in captivity demonstrated “a kind of mental illness” likely due to the zoo’s woeful conditions.

In May, a Pakistani judge ordered that all the animals at the zoo be moved.

Upon hearing about Kaavan’s freedom, Cher had tweeted that the decision marked “one of the greatest moments” of her life.

A team of vets and experts from Austria-based Four Paws spent months working with Kaavan to get him ready for the trip — a complicated process due to his size and the amount of food needed en route.

The elephant also had to be taught to enter the four-tonne metal crate that was then secured in the belly of a mammoth Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane for the journey.

Four Paws, along with Islamabad authorities, also safely moved three wolves and some monkeys from the zoo. Currently only two Himalayan brown bears, one deer and one monkey remain.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201201/cher-welcomes-world-s-loneliest-elephant-to-new-home-in-cambodia/58046.html

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New Zealand raises concerns with China over Australian soldier image

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WELLINGTON — New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said on Tuesday that her government has raised concerns with China about its using an image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

Australia has demanded Beijing apologise and take down the fake image, posted on Twitter by a senior Chinese official on Monday, marking another downturn in deteriorating relations between the two countries.

“New Zealand has registered directly with Chinese authorities our concern over the use of that image,” Ardern told reporters in the parliament in the capital Wellington.

“It was an unfactual post, and of course that would concern us. So that is something we have raised directly in the manner that New Zealand does when we have such concerns.”

The tiny, trade-focused Pacific island nation has stayed clear of the growing feud between China and Australia, and has long-standing diplomatic, trade and political interests with both countries.

New Zealand has a shared history, close cultural ties, geographic proximity and a strong economic relation with Australia. China is its largest trading partner, with two-way trade exceeding NZ$33 billion.

New Zealand, which is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group with Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, joined a statement calling on Beijing to reverse its decision to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong.

Ardern’s government also backed Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Organization (WHO) despite a warning from Beijing.

New Zealand will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) next year, taking over from Malaysia, where the global event was held this year.

Australia’s relationship with China has deteriorated since Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, China outlined a list of grievances about Australia’s foreign investment, national security and human rights policy, saying Canberra needed to correct its actions to restore the bilateral.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201201/new-zealand-raises-concerns-with-china-over-australian-soldier-image/58045.html

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Deforestation in Brazilian Amazon surges to 12-year high

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Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged again over the past year, hitting a 12-year high, according to official figures released Monday that drew a chorus of condemnation of President Jair Bolsonaro’s government.

A total of 11,088 square kilometers (4,281 square miles) of forest was destroyed in Brazil’s share of the world’s biggest rainforest in the 12 months to August, according to the Brazilian space agency’s PRODES monitoring program, which analyzes satellite images to track deforestation.

That is equivalent to an area larger than Jamaica, and was a 9.5-percent increase from the previous year, when deforestation also hit a more than decade-long high.

“Because of such deforestation, Brazil is probably the only major greenhouse gas emitter that managed to increase its emissions in the year the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the global economy,” said the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental groups.

Forests such as the Amazon play a vital role in controlling climate change because they suck carbon from the atmosphere.

However, when trees die or burn, they release their carbon back into the environment.

Bolsonaro, a far-right climate-change skeptic, has presided over rising deforestation and wildfires since taking office in January 2019.

His government is pushing to open protected lands to mining and agribusiness, and has slashed funding for environmental protection programs.

Environmentalists say those policies fuel the destruction of the Amazon, about 60 percent of which is in Brazil.

“The Bolsonaro government’s vision of development for the Amazon is a throwback to the rampant deforestation of the past. It’s a regressive vision that’s far from the effort needed to deal with the climate crisis,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Cristiane Mazzetti said in a statement.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who presented the figures in a press conference, defended the government’s committment to fighting deforestation.

“The message I bring in the name of President Bolsonaro is that we will continue working with science and technology to support the work of environmental protection agencies,” said Mourao, a retired army general who heads Bolsonaro’s Amazon task force.

The latest annual deforestation figure was the highest since 2008, when 12,911 square kilometers of forest were destroyed in the Brazilian Amazon.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20201201/deforestation-in-brazilian-amazon-surges-to-12year-high/58043.html

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