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Portrait of Camilla's ex-husband Parker Bowles fetches $35 mln at auction

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NEW YORKsold for $34.9 million at Christie’s on Tuesday as contemporary works by artists from Andy Warhol to Louise Bourgeois drew strong prices and spirited bidding.

While Warhol’s “Four Marilyns,” depicting screen siren Marilyn Monroe, drew the evening’s top price, it was upstaged by “The Brigadier,” a large-scale 2003-04 portrait of Parker Bowles, sat casually dressed in military regalia.

Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, and Parker Bowles divorced in 1995.

Several bidders competed for the painting via telephone and in the salesroom, driving the final price to $34.9 million including Christie’s commission and beating the $30 million pre-sale estimate.

It was a second consecutive steady night at Christie’s, which scored the second-highest price ever for a work of art at auction on Monday when Modigliani’s “Nu couche” soared to $170.4 million, smashing the artist’s record by $100 million.

The sale of 66 works, which Christie’s said echoed Monday’s “very strong response from Asia,” took in $331.8 million, beating the low estimate of about $320 million. Thirteen lots went unsold.

Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s’ global head who also served as auctioneer, noted “a move toward European artists” as evidenced by the strong price for the Freud portrait, as well as a record for Lucio Fontana whose “Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio” set an artist’s record of $29.2 million.

Among other highlights, Louise Bourgeois’ monumental sculpture “Spider,” which graced the auction house’s Rockefeller Center entrance, fetched $28.2 million, smashing the sculptress’ record of $10.7 million.

Warhol’s “Four Marilyns” was as expected the sale’s top-priced work fetching $36 million, but fell shy of expectations after Christie’s estimated it would command some $40 million. Estimates do not include commission of just over 12 percent.

The same piece was auctioned for a higher price only two years ago at Phillips. Officials said its quick return to the market was likely a factor in the soft price, although two other major Warhols failed to sell at all.

“We learn from these signals in the marketplace as to where tastes and prices are,” said Laura Paulson, post-war and contemporary art international director.

Christie’s said when works don’t sell or fall short of expectations, reasons ranged from an artist falling out of favor or price points being too aggressive.

The auctions continue on Wednesday with Sotheby’s’ post-war and contemporary art sale.

(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: R-Entertainment

New York tells fantasy sports websites to stop taking bets in state

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WASHINGTONThe New York state attorney general on Tuesday ordered the fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting bets in New York, saying that the operations were essentially illegal gambling, according to copies of letters to the companies seen by Reuters.

DraftKings and FanDuel have been at the centre of a firestorm of controversy since early October when a DraftKings employee won $350,000 from a $25 entry in an American football contest on the rival FanDuel site. The two companies then banned their employees from playing, but local and federal authorities began to investigate whether the fantasy sites offered games of chance, which were essentially gambling.

The letters on Tuesday from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that the fantasy sites were considered gambling because customers “are clearly placing bets on events outside of their control or influence, specifically on the real-game performance of professional athletes.”

In the games, fans pay to compete for daily cash prizes in simulated athletic contests.

In the letters, the attorney general’s office said it demanded that the companies “cease and desist from illegally accepting wagers in New York state.” The letters were sent to both DraftKings and FanDuel and given to Reuters by a spokesman for Schneiderman.

The state of Nevada took a similar action in mid-October, with the Nevada Gaming Control Board saying the companies had to cease operations in the state.


A spokesperson for DraftKings said the company was disappointed at New York’s “hasty action.”

“We strongly disagree with the reasoning in his opinion and will examine and vigorously pursue all legal options available to ensure our over half a million customers in New York state can continue to play,” the spokesperson said.

DraftKings estimated that 56 million people in the United States played fantasy sports.

FanDuel also disagreed with the decision, saying in a statement: “This is a politician telling hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers they are not allowed to play a game they love.”

“The game has been played – legally – in New York for years and years, but after the attorney general realized he could now get himself some press coverage, he decided a game that has been around for a long, long time is suddenly now not legal,” FanDuel added.

According to media reports, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the industry.

The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates companies accused of unfair and deceptive acts, has noted that it has authority over the companies, Senator Bob Menendez and Frank Pallone, both New Jersey Democrats, said on Tuesday.

The attorney general’s order in the midst of an investigation against two targets of that investigation is a “somewhat unprecedented development,” said Jeff Ifrah, a lawyer in Washington whose clients include online gaming and daily fantasy sports sites.

(Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Suzanne Barlyn in New York; editing by Alan Crosby and G Crosse)

Source: R-Entertainment

Pink diamond nets $28.55 million in healthy stone market – Christie's

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GENEVAA large diamond of a rare pink hue fetched 28.725 million Swiss francs ($28.55 million) on Tuesday, the star lot of Christie’s semi-annual jewellery sale in Geneva, where designer eye candy drew strong prices.

A Chinese client based in Hong Kong bought the cushion-shaped pink diamond weighing 16.08 carats and graded vivid fancy pink, which is set in a platinum and gold ring surrounded by a double row of pave-set white diamonds, the auction house said. Its pre-sale estimate was $23 million to $28 million.

The seller was not identified and the buyer, who has named the pink diamond “The Sweet Josephine,” wished to remain anonymous, Christie’s said. The diamond’s origin was not disclosed.

“It is absolutely a top price for a stone of this quality, because of its colour. There are few pink-pink the way this one was,” said Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Luxury Group and its veteran jewellery expert, who conducted part of the evening auction in a packed salesroom.

“It shows we are dealing with a very healthy stone market,” he told reporters. “There is lots of cash in the world right now. At the moment, works of art, diamonds and jewels are a safe haven.”

In almost 250 years of auction history, only three pure vivid pink diamonds of over 10 carats have appeared for sale, according to Christie’s.

A pear-shaped flawless white diamond weighing 50.48 carats fetched 7.89 million Swiss francs in heated bidding, the evening’s second-highest lot, selling to a dealer in the room.

Jewels by Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Cartier and Bulgari soared above pre-sale estimates, including a Bulgari coral onyx and diamond bracelet-watch designed as a coiled serpent.

In all, some 80 percent of the 400 lots on offer sold for 110.26 million Swiss francs, Christie’s said, eclipsing expectations.

Christie’s, founded in 1776, is now owned by French retail magnate Francois Pinault’s holding company Artemis SA.

A large blue diamond, one of the world’s rarest, could fetch $35 million to $55 million at auction on Wednesday, rival Sotheby’s (BID.N) said last week, as an industry group reported strong prices for colour diamonds ahead of the holiday season.

A Modigliani nude painting was sold to an unnamed Chinese buyer at Christie’s on Monday for $170.4 million, the second-highest price ever for a work of art at auction, as deep-pocketed collectors continue to pay, and pay big, for some rare masterpieces up for sale in this year’s autumn auctions season..

“China has been very active yesterday in New York and tonight in Geneva,” Curiel said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: R-Entertainment

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