April 24, 2012

Sotheby's to sell 400-year-old diamond - The Beau Sancy

The "Beau Sancy" diamond is tipped to fetch up to $4 million at auction. 

THE 400-year-old Beau Sancy, one of the world's oldest and most-storied diamonds in private hands, is up for sale at Sotheby's auction house. 

Weighing in at 34.98 carats, the sparkling pear-cut gem, above, is estimated to be worth up to $US4 million ($3.87 million).

Those who don't have the money to buy the jewel can see it on display ahead of next month's sale.

Cut from the famous gem mines in the Indian city of Golconda, the diamond made its way through four royal European families and once belonged to Queen Marie de Medici of France.
Its most recent owners are the descendants of the last Emperor of Germany.
The gem is currently on display in Paris. It will travel to London and Zurich before its auctioning in Geneva on May 14.

It’s funny reading that the diamond is “400 years old”! 
I am sure they mean since it was originally cut.
“It may be that diamonds form over periods as short a time as days, weeks, months to millions of years.”

However, I think the Taylor-Burton Diamond is infinitely nicer! Weighing in at 69.42 carats it cost Richard Burton a ‘mere’ $1.1 million!

More information here.

And it couldn’t have belonged to a more beautiful person!

But that is just my opinion!


GENEVA: A centuries-old diamond passed down through generations of European royalty fetched nine million Swiss francs ($9.7 million) at auction in Geneva on Tuesday. The 35-carat "Beau Sancy" diamond was worn by Marie de Medici, Queen consort of Henry IV, at her coronation in 1610.

Five bidders spanning three continents competed for the historic jewel at a Sotheby's auction where there was little evidence of the current global financial woes.

An anonymous telephone bidder purchased the jewel, put on the market by the House of Prussia and described by Sotheby's as one of the "most fascinating and romantic" gems ever to come to auction.

The buyer paid 9,042,500 Swiss francs ($9,699,618) including the buyer's premium for the pear-shaped, double rose cut diamond, more than double the $2 million to $4 million estimate.

"You are buying an historic work of art, you are not buying a diamond," said Philipp Herzog von Wuerttenberg, chairman of Sotheby's Europe, following the sale. "I fell in love with it when I saw it. It's the cut, it's the history," he said.

Beau Sancy attracted bids from North America, Europe and Asia, he said, refusing to give further details about the buyer. The diamond's royal connections date back to 1604 when it was bought for Henri IV of France at the insistence of his wife Marie de Medici who wore it atop her crown at her coronation.

Later that century it was acquired by the Dutch and used to seal the wedding of Willem II of Orange Nassau to Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles I of England. Stuart pawned the rose-cut gem to finance her brother Charles II's fight for the throne.

In 1702, the first king of Prussia gave it pride of place in the new royal crown and it has passed through generations of the House of Prussia until today.

"We've sold much larger diamonds but it has this wonderful romantic history, an unparalleled royal history, it has never been in non-royal hands," said David Bennett, co-chairman of Sotheby's Switzerland, ahead of the sale.

The Beau Sancy went under the hammer at Geneva's Beau Rivage hotel as part of Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels" sale.

A second historic diamond, a 7.3-carat "fancy yellow" formerly belonging to Charles
Edward Stuart, one-time pretender to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland, sold to a telephone bidder for 902,500 francs ($968,085) including the buyers premium.

Four-hundred-year old diamond sells at auction for nearly $A10 million.
Some related posts:
The Most Expensive Coloured Diamonds in the World
 "Pink Star" Diamond sells for record $89m

Elizabeth Taylor Quotes
South Africa's Cullinan Mine Unearths 'Exceptional' 29.6-carat Blue Diamond
Why Diamond Engagement Rings Are A Scam
Cartier Exhibition Features Pieces Once Owned By Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly 
The Bahia Emerald - The 400 Million Dollar Rock
25 Things You Didn't Know About Jewelry
 The Royal Jewels


April 23, 2012

Lotte - Time Lapse: Incredible Video from Birth to 12 years!

What a terrific way to capture wonderful moments and memories!

Ingenuity and technological advancements can achieve amazing things!

Published by
I filmed my daughter every week, from birth up until she turned 12 years old and then made this time lapse edit in FCP.

From You Tube

April 16, 2012

Creativity: Unruly incubators of fertile minds


IF we want to make a more creative society, we could do worse than copy the example of Elizabethan England and London in particular. 

The city of Shakespeare and Marlowe was densely urban, rewarded innovation, welcomed travellers and trade and, most importantly, was more literate than other European centres. 
Add to the mix such high-achievers as Walter Raleigh, John Milton, John Donne, Edmund Spenser and Francis Bacon -- and overlook the poverty, bear-baiting, plague and other infelicities of the era -- and 16th-century London starts to look like a case of what statistician David Banks called "excess genius".

Or, in words that today's policy-makers would recognise, London was home to a creative class, a network of innovation and cultural industries.

US writer Jonah Lehrer considers the London case in his new book Imagine: The Science of Creativity. Shakespeare is a reminder, he writes, that creativity is largely determined by the culture that produces it. "When you look at these ages of excess genius through history, you see some recurring patterns, and the most important pattern is expansion in education," Lehrer says on the phone from Los Angeles.

"Shakespeare's father was a glover, signed his name with a mark, was probably illiterate. 
Shakespeare was given lessons in Latin at the age of eight, and that's because of education reforms. There was a vast expansion in the pool of human capital."
Lehrer, 30, is young enough to be called a wunderkind of American science writing.

 A double-major in neuroscience and French literature, and a Rhodes scholar, he has written three books (his first, published in 2007, was Proust was a Neuroscientist) and contributes to such publications as Seed, Wired, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal.

Like authors Malcolm Gladwell and Oliver Sacks, Lehrer is interested in the science that can help explain ordinary, or extraordinary, human experience.

 In Imagine, he argues that while we cannot all be artists of the magnitude of Shakespeare, Picasso or Bob Dylan, everyone has the mental power of creativity: it's the way our brains are made.
Lehrer is no musician -- "I'm so bad at it, it seems like an otherworldly talent" -- but watching and listening to recordings of Dylan, John Coltrane and Miles Davis was his gateway to trying to understand creativity.

In Imagine, he describes the fatigue and creative block that Dylan experienced during his 1965 tour, and his intention to get away from the music business.

 The singer left New York and headed to a cabin in Woodstock, not even taking his guitar. The mental impasse, Lehrer writes, was the necessary precursor to a creative breakthrough.

Within days, Dylan began the outpouring of lyrics -- "this long piece of vomit, 20 pages long", as Dylan described it -- that would become Like a Rolling Stone. The next week he was in the recording studio, cutting one of the most influential singles of all time.

Lehrer links Dylan's surprising rhymes and free-associative verse with the right side of the brain: specifically, an area called the anterior superior temporal gyrus. This is where insights, epiphanies and "a-ha!" moments happen. It helps us understand jokes and poetic metaphors by linking seemingly unrelated ideas.

But the aSTG (sic) is only one part of the creative nerve centre.

 The prefrontal cortex is the "executive" part of the brain responsible for decision-making: it's where ideas are honed. Lehrer uses the example of W.H. Auden tapping into his prefrontal cortex -- admittedly under the influence of Benzedrine -- as he reworks poetry.

Dylan's free-associative technique is known as divergent thinking, while Auden's highly focused method is convergent.

 Or, to put it another way, Dylan represents the euphoric Dionysian impulse and Auden the enlightened Apollonian. Classicists and students of philosophy will recognise the distinction from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy.

"What interests me is when the neuroscience aligns with these anecdotes, these philosophical theories: that to me is when the science is most convincing, when it aligns with things we intuitively understand," Lehrer says.

Drawing on scientific studies, Lehrer tests some myths and theories about creativity. For example: do better ideas happen among teams of long-term collaborators or groups of relative strangers? 

 One study that analysed the teams that worked on classic Broadway musicals came up with a Q score: a measure of connectedness between people. 

The most creative teams had a mid-range Q score, indicating a mixture of old and new talent.
Is criticism constructive or destructive to creativity? 

Lehrer describes the bracing assessments that went on at Pixar, when Steve Jobs was chief executive, during the making of Toy Story 2. 

 Constructive criticism leads to better ideas because it helps eliminate bad ones, Lehrer writes. Brainstorming is a more enjoyable way of generating ideas but, because criticism is forbidden, it is also less effective.

Lehrer's chapters on the conditions necessary for creative societies will interest city planners and policy-makers, not least those in Canberra drafting the national cultural policy. Arts Minister Simon Crean says he wants to "join the dots" between traditional art forms, creative industries and such policy areas as education, regional development and the National Broadband Network.

The best model of a creative society is the city: places where people and ideas continually bump up against each other, Lehrer says.

"Yes, this research has direct application to cities, but it should also make planners and mayors a little bit modest," he adds.

"One of the things that makes cities so successful is that they are inherently unruly.

"That's one of the differences between cities and companies. Cities live forever: as cities get bigger, people become more productive. In companies, the opposite happens: as companies get bigger, people become less productive. That seems to be why cities never die and companies always die: companies have a very short lifespan."

The one constant in creative societies is the level of education. 

"This is something you see again and again throughout history: when we figure out new ways to discover talent in parts of the population that were previously neglected, you get these flourishings," he says. "If you're a policy-maker, I'd focus on that before anything else. At least in the States, we're leaving so many people out there, so much talent which never has a chance to develop."

Lehrer, who recently has become a father for the first time -- he and his wife, Sarah, have a daughter, Rose -- believes that everyone has creative ability. 

The difference between mere mortals and creative giants such as Shakespeare and Mozart, he says, is one of "degree and not kind".

Gifted people work hard to develop a talent -- whether it be writing drama or opera -- and intuitively understand how to think creatively.

"Part of developing a talent is also realising what one can do with it, realising your inherent limitations," Lehrer says.

"People are naturally drawn to stuff that they're good at. We've got a natural sense of how we're learning and progressing. If people are telling you you're great at the piano when actually you're pretty mediocre, then you're being set up for disappointment. But I think people intuitively have a sense of what we're cut out for."

Imagine: The Science of Creativity by Jonah Lehrer is published by Text, $32.95.

From The Australian

NB. I would recommend watching “Anonymous”.

Not going to spoil it for you!

Shakespeare’s World Revealed In 400-year-old Handwriting

'The Great Gatsby': Seven Life Lessons

 Bob Dylan Releases A Night They Called It A Day Video

'American Pie' Lyrics Sell For $1.2 million In New York

Bob Dylan Named Greatest Songwriter Ahead Of Lennon and McCartney According To Rolling Stone  

Shakespeare First Folio found on Scottish Isle of Bute

The Book Of Kells: A Medieval Treasure

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Press Pass for the Spanish Civil War Found

April 11, 2012

More Human Ingenuity – St Peter’s Basilica: A virtual Tour

I wrote about human ingenuity and the age of the internet regarding the Sistine Chapel. 
 Here it is again.

Since not many people get the chance to visit either of these places the people who work in the IT industry are to be congratulated for putting together both these sites, thereby enabling others to marvel at these Renaissance wonders.
The Basilica of St Peter's virtual tour is no less amazing than the virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. 
You do not need to be a religious person to appreciate the art or the works of Renaissance giants, such as Michelangelo, to marvel at these achievements!
Take the tour of St Peter’s Basilica – I think it is quite amazing! 
Check out your favourite parts!
1. Apse
2. Altar
5. Nave
7. Pieta
With thanks to Basilica of St Peter Virtual Tour

What Was the Enlightenment?

More art:

Chauvet Cave Paintings: Cave Women Left Their Artistic Mark

London exhibition of Australian art holds up a mirror to our nation: more iconic images
500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art
Some Fascinating Pictures featuring Alyssa Monks
Export Ban Placed on Anthony Van Dyck Masterpiece
Ronnie Wood: His Art and The Rolling Stones
The lost Van Gogh: Painting found in Norwegian attic is confirmed as priceless work by Dutch master
Market Find Turns Out To Be A Lost Faberge Egg
Charles Dellschau: Secrets of An Undiscovered Visionary Artist
Tom Pinch: Time - Lapse Portraits of Paul McCartney and John Lennon
The Curious Case Of The Renaissance Cockatoo
Images On Andy Warhol’s Old Computer Discs Excite University Students
Human Ingenuity: From the Renaissance to the Age of the Internet - The Sistine Chapel

April 04, 2012

New Beatles Band May Form With Sons


This is rather incredible! I hope it works for them. What a terrific tribute to their fathers!

My previous post regarding the Beatles is here.

My favourite Beatle, as I mentioned elsewhere was George Harrison. 

His son, Dhani, is virtually a carbon copy!

A fresh wave of Beatlemania could sweep the world after Paul McCartney's son said four of the legendary British rock group's children were considering setting up a band together.

James McCartney told the BBC website that he and John Lennon's son Sean, George Harrison's son Dhani, and Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey had mooted the idea of forming The Beatles - The Next Generation.

"I'd be up for it," said the 34-year-old, who is launching a solo career as a singer and guitarist. "Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it."

He added that Starkey was less keen, but that the band could "hopefully" form with "nature's support".

All four have followed in their fathers' footsteps and pursued musical careers. Sean Lennon is a New York-based singer-songwriter, while Dhani Harrison fronts London rock band thenewno2.

Zak Starkey became a drummer like his father Ringo Starr and has played with bands including The Who and Oasis.

James McCartney, who strongly resembles his father, said he had "dreamt of being better than The Beatles".

"I'm not sure if I can do that," he told the BBC. "If anything, I would love to be equal to The Beatles - but even that's quite tough."

The younger McCartney was playing a gig on Tuesday in Liverpool, north-west England, at the famous Cavern Club where The Beatles first made their name.

His two EPs have been co-produced by his father, who at 69 shows no signs of retiring and released his latest album Kisses on the Bottom this year.

With thanks to the Age





Above:Trailers From Hell's take on "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help".


Update: Not going to happen says Ringo.


More on The Beatles in no particular order - just a summary:

The Art of McCartney Project

The Beatles: Good News For Fans This week

Paul McCartney: Destiny Game Song "Hope For The Future"

Beatles Lyrics Reveal Enduring Words Of Love And Life

Glyn Johns: Defining That Classic-Rock Sound

The Traveling Wilburys: Their History

George Harrison and The Bee Gees To Receive Recording Academy Honors

John Lennon or Paul McCartney? Matt Schichter Documentary Offers 550 Answers

Sir Paul McCartney To Induct Ringo Starr Into Hall Of Fame

'American Pie' Lyrics Sell For $1.2 million In New York

 Penny Lane: Original On The Block, Minus The Fanfare

Lost Beatles US Concert Movie Blocked From Release

The Three Lennon-McCartney Hits That Went to No. 1 Without Lennon or McCartney 

The Beatles 1 To Be Reissued With 50 Videos 

George Harrison's Catalogue Is Now Streaming   

Ringo Starr Reflects On His 35 Year Marriage

John Lennon's Long-Lost Gibson J-160E Guitar Sells for Record $2.4 Million
George Harrison: Tribute GeorgeFest Is Coming

John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll Album - Update: Vale Sir George Martin

The Beatles Anthology: Streaming Now.

Unseen Beatles Footage Released

George Harrison - This is Love
Celebrating The Beatles' Revolver 50 Years On

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years

The Beatles 'Love' And Cirque du Soleil

Long Lost Live Beatles Exhumed!

Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles; It was 50 years ago today ...