The royal family of Qatar, apparently striving for art-world credibility, purchased a Paul Cezanne painting ("The Card Players") last year for the equivalent of about $250 million, which is twice as much as the previous most-expensive painting sold for. (Qatar is vying with the United Arab Emirates to become the Middle East's major intellectual hub.) At the same time that Qatar's purchase was made public in February, artwork of the probable value of about $200 million became news in reports of the imminent Facebook initial public offering. Graffiti artist ("muralist") David Choe stood to make about that amount because he took stock instead of money to paint the lewd themes on the walls of Facebook's first offices. Even though Choe was quoted as saying, originally, that he found the whole idea of Facebook "ridiculous and pointless," his shares today are reportedly worth up to one quarter of 1 percent of the company.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
• Last year, the Cape Town, South Africa, "gentlemen's club" Mavericks began selling an Alibi line of fragrances designed for men who need excuses for coming home late. For example, as men come through the door, they could splash on "I Was Working Late" (to reek of coffee and cigarettes) or "My Car Broke Down" (evoking fuel, burned rubber and grease).
Science on the Cutting Edge
• Can't Possibly Be True: "(A) growing number of scientists" are at work on biocomputer models based on movements of slime to solve complex-systems problems, according to a December report in London's Daily Telegraph. Though slime molds are single-cell organisms lacking a "brain," said professor Toshiyuki Nakagaki ofJapan'sFuture University Hakodate, they somehow can "organize" themselves to create the most direct route through mazes in order to find food. Said professor Atsushi Tero, of Kyushu University, ordinary computers are "not so good" at finding such ideal routes because of the quantity of calculations required, but slime molds seem to flow "in an impromptu manner" and gradually find the best routes.
Least Competent Criminals
• According to prosecutors in Camden, S.C., in November, Christopher Hutto, 30, needed money badly to buy crack cocaine, but the best plan he could devise was getting a friend to telephone Hutto's mother and demand a ransom. Though Hutto, according to the phone call, supposedly had been beaten up by kidnappers and dumped in a secret location and was "near death," the "kidnapper" asked only for $100. The un-eager mother dawdled a bit until she and the caller had negotiated the ransom down to $60. (The money drop was made, and sheriff's deputies arrested Hutto running from the site with the booty.)
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