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"Spectre" sets record for largest movie stunt explosion

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Nail-biting action scenes and blasts are a regular feature in James Bond movies but the franchise’s latest offering, “Spectre”, has scored a world record for the largest stunt explosion in a film, Guinness World Records said on Tuesday.

Actor Daniel Craig, who reprises the 007 role for the fourth time, actress Lea Seydoux and producer Barbara Broccoli were presented with an official certificate confirming the feat while promoting “Spectre” in Beijing.

Guinness Word Records said on its website that the official title holder was “Spectre” Special Effects and Miniature Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould who created the explosive scene.

It said the blast, which lasted over 7.5 seconds and took place in Morocco, had a total yield of 68.47 tonnes of TNT equivalent. It resulted from detonating 8,418 litres of kerosene with 33 kilogrammes of powder explosives, it added.

“Spectre”, the 24th James Bond film, broke records at the British box office upon opening late last month.

It topped the North American box office at the weekend with $70.4 million but fell below initial takings for the last 007 film “Skyfall” which took $88.4 million when it opened in 2012.

(Reporting by Reuters Television in Beijing and Marie-Louise Gumuchian in London; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: R-Entertainment

A treasure trove of 'ancient' archaeology tucked away in Gaza

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GAZANafez Abed’s cramped workroom is filled with sculptures and mosaics with patterns from the Byzantine, Greek and Roman periods. It is an emporium of Middle Eastern antiquity tucked away in Gaza. And none of it is real.

Abed, 55, is a self-taught archaeologist, preserver and restorer who crafts reproductions of ancient pieces he finds or has seen in museums. He gives his work so much authenticity that international experts have been wowed by his skills.

A fair-haired, intense man, he spends almost all his time in his studio, built on the roof of his unfinished house in a refugee camp in northern Gaza. Its windows are covered in plastic to keep out the rain that blows in from the nearby Mediterranean.

“The Museum of Mosaics” is written on the wooden door that leads into his workroom. On a large table in the middle of the dark room stands a reproduction of a statue of Alexander the Great, looking as if it truly dated from 300 BC, amid oil-fired lamps and copies of coins dating back more than 2,500 years.

“My fixation with archaeology runs in my veins,” said the father of seven, who trained as a blacksmith before deciding 30 years ago to dedicate himself to a more refined art.

“I spend more than 10 hours a day here, sitting among my works and reproductions,” he said with a sense of wistfulness. His room was lit by one small lamp, plugged into an extension cable that stretches from the floor below.

It was Abed’s father who got him started, imbuing him with a love of antiquity and the rich ancient history of Gaza, where the blinded Biblical hero Samson lived.

Over the millennia, Gaza has served as a trading port for ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans and Crusaders. Beneath its sands lie ruins from Alexander the Great’s siege of the city, Emperor Hadrian’s visit, Mongol raids and the arrival of the Islamic armies 1,400 years ago.

Napoleon and the Ottomans camped here and British armies passed through in World War One.

Abed frequently tours Gaza’s beaches looking for ancient remains. Sometimes he restores pieces he finds and other times he uses the clay in a reproduction, treating the material in such a way that it looks to be centuries old.

Via extensive reading on archaeology in Arabic and English, he has developed a range of techniques for restoration and aging. To a visitor’s eye, everything looks ancient.

“Some clients, some visitors, including scientists who have visited me, thought some of the pieces were real before I told them they were imitations made by own hand,” he said.


As his skills grew, he gained wider acclaim. By presidential decree, he was appointed deputy director of rehabilitation at the Palestinian Ministry of Archaeology in 1995 and he has also been in charge of the mosaic department.

He has travelled to Jericho and Jenin in the West Bank to work with Italian and Dutch experts on archaeological sites there, and made trips to the Louvre in Paris and museums in Arles and Geneva to help with restorations.

In 2005, the head of the Geneva museum visited Gaza with his wife and talked at length with Abed about his skills.

“He offered me a job at the museum, but I turned it down,” said Abed, making clear his regret. “It was a mistake.”

In 2007, the Islamist group Hamas seized control of Gaza. Since then, travelling abroad has become much harder and life inside the territory has grown tougher, with restrictions on the import of goods and a series of short wars with Israel.

In his studio, Abed works intensely on a range of mosaics. One depicts a beautiful woman riding a charging bull, a copy of an original based in Naples, Italy.

Another set of seven mosaics show the ancient gates to Palestine and there are also reproductions of pieces he has seen while visiting the Netherlands and France.

Most Gazans cannot afford his works, but Abed has a few local clients, including hotel owners and other wealthy people who want to decorate their homes with ancient-looking artifacts. While that is something, business is not as it once was.

“I used to be visited by foreigners, by consuls and ambassadors, by international businessmen and tourists,” said Abed. “There are no foreigners nowadays. The situation got bad.”

(Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Luke Baker and Tom Heneghan)

Source: R-Entertainment

Modigliani nude sells for $170 mln, 2nd-highest price ever paid at art auction

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NEW YORKA 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.

The final price for the 1917-18 portrait “Nu couché” (Reclining Nude) – under the hammer for the first time ever – was second only to Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers) which sold for $179 million at Christie’s in May.

While the buyer was not identified, Christie’s said the painting was bought by a private Chinese collector. Asian collectors have been especially active in the art market for the past several seasons.

Some half-dozen bidders competed for the canvas, which had remained in the same private collection for some 60 years and was offered as the highlight of a specially curated “Artist’s Muse” sale comprising 34 works in total.

In a packed salesroom marked by deliberate but determined competition, bidding started at $75 million – already more than Modigliani’s auction record of $70.7 million – and ticked upwards in $5 million increments before an unidentified telephone bidder prevailed at $152 million.

The final price was $170,405,000 including Christie’s’ commission of just over 12 percent. The auction house had estimated the canvas would fetch more than $100 million.

While nearly 30 percent of the “Artist’s Muse” offerings went unsold – Lucian Freud’s “Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa” was estimated at as much as $30 million but failed to sell – the auction took in $494.4 million in total. That was right in the middle of the pre-sale estimate of $442 million to $540 million.

Nodding to the sale’s unsold lots, Christie’s’ global president and auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen said that was the risk of “pushing the envelope”. He noted some works were either not fresh to the market, or were perhaps aggressively priced.

But strong prices for top works that did sell bore witness to what Pylkkanen called “a masterpiece market” that was fomenting “extraordinary competition”.

A new record was set for an auction sale of work by Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist best known for his vibrant, cartoon-style works. His 1964 painting “Nurse” fetched $95.4 million, within the $80 million to $100 million estimate.

Another artist record, for a Gauguin sculpture, was broken when “Thérèse” sold for just under $31 million, beating the $25 million estimate.

The autumn auctions continue on Tuesday with Christie’s’ sale featuring works from the red-hot post-war and contemporary art category. Sotheby’s’ contemporary sale follows on Wednesday.

(Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

Source: R-Entertainment

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