November 06, 2008
The Mystery of Value
Above right, John Chamberlain's 1964 sculpture "Spike," carrying an estimate of $900,000 to $1.2 million at an upcoming Christie's auction.
On the left is the same sculptor's 1964 "Ca-D'Oro," estimated to bring $1.8 million to $2.2 million when it goes on the block at Sotheby's.
Carol Vogel explored this differential in a piece which appeared in last Sunday's New York Times Arts & Leisure section, and follows.
- A Puzzle
Why are these two 1964 sculptures by John Chamberlain, roughly the same size and made the same year, priced so differently?
Christie's estimates that "Spike," from the estate of the philanthropist Alice Lawrence, the widow of the Manhattan real estate developer Sylvan Lawrence, will bring $900,000 to $1.2 million. "Ca-D'Oro," which is being sold by an unidentified Midwestern collector at Sotheby's, carries an estimate of $1.8 million to $2.2 million.
Both of these colorful crushed metal sculptures are from the artist's prime period, when he used everyday objects, like abandoned car parts. He often sprayed as many as 100 coats of lacquer on the steel to achieve the surface he desired.
Estate property is generally more reasonably priced, and Christie's has given the Lawrence heirs a guarantee. That means the auction house rather than the estate can set the prices. The one at Sotheby's seems to have been estimated at the whim of an auction house expert — or possibly a hungry seller.
Web Floral Arranger — (No computer required)
From the website:
- Web Floral Arranger
Some people have a knack for creating beautiful bouquets.
If you aren't one of them, you will appreciate this simple aid for arranging flowers.
Unlike many floral arrangers, this latex web has a flexible size and shape for fitting various vases (for smaller vases simply cut away the outer ring).
Inconspicuously attaching to the rim of your vase (lip thickness should be 5mm to 10mm) using six included polycarbonate clips, this web has the added benefit of supporting flowers near the top of the stem, where they are more vulnerable to breaking.
A simple yet effective tool for the amateur florist.
Cauliflower Sheep — The Sequel*
*To Telephonic Sheep, probably my most popular post ever.
[via Nick Wood and fabulously40.com]
Back to Back Sofa — by Nigel Coates
Chronicles of Augmented Reality — Episode 1: China does U-turn on online money-making
Mure Dickie's November 3, 2008 Financial Times story reported on China's apparent volte-face this week from its previous position that strictly forbid players of online computer games from making real money from trade in virtual currencies.
Here's the article.
- China U-turn on online money-making
Less than two years after “strictly forbidding” players of online computer games from making money from trade in virtual currencies, China has announced a 20 per cent tax for such income.
The apparently contradictory rulings from different arms of the Chinese state highlight the difficulties faced by governments worldwide as they seek to regulate and tax the growing economic activity centred on “massively multi-player online role-playing games”.
Tax authorities generally take the view that all income from online business should be taxable, even if profits are derived from virtual worlds.
However, the practicalities of collecting those taxes — and valuing virtual assets — continue to be elusive.
Trade in virtual items — ranging from “gold” coins to magic swords and in-game property rights — is estimated to be worth more than Rmb10bn ($1.45bn, €1.15bn, £900m) a year in China alone, according to consultancy iResearch.
The widening trade in the virtual money used within games — and their burgeoning use for other transactions — last year prompted China’s ruling Communist party and the central bank to ban trading in virtual currencies and their use for purchases of “material products”.
However, in what amounts to tacit recognition that last year’s restrictions have had little impact, the State Administration of Taxation has announced that income from the sale of virtual currency with “increased value” is taxable at the same 20 per cent rate applied to real estate and other transactions.
Beijing tax officials declined to explain how they would implement the vaguely worded ruling, with local media saying detailed regulations could be announced in the coming days. However, Chinese analysts and games players suggested that the authorities’ attempt to tax the virtual currency trade would fare no better than the previous effort to ban it.
The contradictions between last year’s order and the tax ruling showed that authorities were “not very clear about online regulation”, said one industry analyst.
“If they can successfully implement this tax in the next two years, then I will jump over Mount Everest,” sneered one contributor to a discussion of the ruling on the popular Netease portal.
Another commentator involved in the growing business of “farming” virtual money and items used in games for sale to cash-rich but time-poor players in the US, Europe and other developed countries asked rhetorically if he or she could expect to benefit from the same tax incentives as other Chinese export businesses.
“I sell virtual currency to foreigners — will I get an export tax rebate?” the commentator said.
Despite last year’s restrictions, trade in virtual currencies used in games such as “World of Warcraft” or issued by online companies such as Hong Kong-listed internet group Tencent is carried out openly on Chinese auction websites.
Tencent’s widely popular “QQ Coins”, for example, were on Sunday being offered at a rate of one to Rmb0.91.
Magnetic Paintbrush Holder
From the website:
- Magnetic Paintbrush Holder
This is an excellent solution to the age-old problem of where to rest your brush when it is loaded with paint, lacquer, or stain.
Designed to clip to the rim of any size of can, it has integral magnets to securely hold the brush ferrule, allowing paint, etc., to flow from the bristles back into the can, making brush clean-up much easier.
One magnet keeps the brush above the liquid in a full can and the other grips it vertically for when the liquid level is lower.
Molded from durable ABS, it even has a metal tab for opening cans.
Much more secure than balancing a brush on the can rim.
Finding ATMs on a hand-held
Hilary Howard's item in this past Sunday's New York Times Travel section: "Cash-strapped and stranded in Rome, Rio, Sydney or Shanghai? If you have a Visa card in your wallet and a Web-enabled mobile device in hand, you might be in luck. Visa recently introduced a service that will give the locations of the nearest ATMs anywhere in the world through mobile devices with Internet access. To use the service, participants should visit www.visa.com/mobileatm and type in the country, then the city or postal code. Giving additional information — like a nearby institution, street address or intersection — is optional."
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.