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A round-up of the best Life stories of 2012 - Part 3

posted 14 Dec 2012, 04:37 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 14 Dec 2012, 04:38 ]

The quirkiest, most memorable and most unusual Reuters Life! stories of 2012.

GRAPHIC SLATE (REUTERS) - 

ART AND AUCTIONS

A Christie's auction of 007 memorabilia in London to mark the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film drew a massive response in October.

Actor Roger Moore, who starred in thrillers such as "Live and Let Die", "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Octopussy" was among those who introduced the items for sale. He clowned around wearing a Daniel Craig mask as he introduced the items, including a first edition of Ian Fleming's 'Dr No'.

Surely one of the auctions with greatest historical interest of the year saw the sale of a pair of green silk slippers which once belonged to France's 'Deficit Queen' Marie-Antoinette. They were sold for 50,000 euros at Parisian auction house 'Hotel des ventes de Drouot'.

The most valuable lot in an auction consisting of 350 treasures belonging to various French royal families, the slippers were sold to a telephone bidder for five times the expected cost of 10,000 euros.

In May, Edward Munch's painting "The Scream," one of the world's most recognizable works of art, sold for more than $119 million (USD) at Sotheby's in New York, setting a new record as the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

A lesser known work of art also went for an incredible sum of money -- an untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat painting from 1981, depicting a skeletal figure with a halo over his head and a fish in his hand, sold for $26.4 million USD. The piece exceeded the earlier record of $20.1 million USD for a Basquiat work, set at a Christie's auction in London in June.

A rare pink diamond has been auctioned for $17.4m USD (£11.1m GBP) - far higher than expected - after six minutes of frenzied bidding in Hong Kong in May. Auctioneers Christie's say that the diamond - the biggest of its kind ever to be sold - was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder.

It was back to the huge historical interest with the sale of George Washington's annotated copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at Christie's in New York.

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association placed the winning 8.7 million USD (6,960,000 EUR) bid, which sets a record for any Washington document or manuscript and for an American book or historical document. The final price with commission totals was $9,826,500 million USD.

And how about the chance to own a piece of Hollywood history? Fifteen Oscars went on the auction block in February, including the one awarded to Herman Mankiewicz for his 1941 screenplay award for "Citizen Kane."

The awards were being auctioned off by Nate D. Sanders Auctions, and sold for 3 million USD.

An auction born from an act of philanthropy comes next when the widow of Edmond Safra, a billionaire U.S. banker, sold off her jewels at a Christie's Auction - including one ruby and diamond ring sold for a record price of $6.7 million.

Jewels belonging to Lily Safra, billionaire widow of banker Edmond Safra, fetched $37.9 million USD in May in a charity sale in Switzerland.

"I feel it's one of the best things I have done in my life, is to give all this, instead of keeping it in a safe, and to give it now, thank you", said Lily Safra

Meanwhile, an unidentified bidder smashed the world auction record for Chinese Song dynasty ceramics when he bought a 900-year-old bowl at $207.86 million Hong Kong dollars ($26.65 million U.S. dollars) in April Hong Kong's Sotheby's spring sale.

Finally a copy of the world's most expensive book went under the hammer at Christie's inNew York.

The complete first edition of John James Audubon's "The Birds of America" (1827-1838) was sold to a private collector for 7,922,500 USD/5,149,625 GBP/6,100,325 EUR.

FASHION

We start our fashion segment with arguably the world's biggest style icon: Miss Piggy.

"The Muppets" star let loose in January after German designer Michael Michalsky had designed a dress for the little diva.

She said she would model for him 'if she wasn't such a busy and in-demand actress'.

Chanel kicked off the year by taking to the sky for its Spring/Summer couture collection inParis in January as designer Karl Lagerfeld looked to the golden age of air travel for inspiration.

Lagerfeld also chose Paris as the venue for the launch of his new line of clothes he designed that will be retailed by an online fashion portal in what he said was a bid to bring affordable luxury to more people at a time of global economic crisis.

The German tastemaker also headed to London to launch a pop-up shop for three of his eponymous labels "Karl", "Karl Lagerfeld Paris", and "Team Karl" in July, the latter of which is exclusive to Selfridges department store in London, where the launch was held.

The who's who of the fashion world came out to toss flowers at the feet of ChristianDior's new creative director in July, applauding the fresh and modern approach Raf Simons has brought to the feminine extravagance of a grand French atelier.

At New York Fashion Week in September designer Marc Jacobs went back to the 60s with vertical stripes and bold checks in Op-Art patterns on his Spring 2013 runway.

Still perhaps the fashion icon of the pop world Lady Gaga launched her new fragrance atNew York's iconic Guggenheim Museum in September with a typically quirky performance art event in which she slept for party-goers in an egg-shaped capsule.

After arriving early at her party, Gaga lay down in an egg-like installation in the middle of the museum for the 'Sleeping with Gaga' event, while invited celebrities and media looked on.

Speaking about her new fragrance Gaga said: "It's a quite, delicious, succulent, slutty, seductive fragrance."

Italian designer Miuccia Prada drew inspiration from Japanese femininity for her women's collection for next summer, while Versace's show featured dramatic dark designs.

Brazilian designers showcased their collections for next year's fall and winter season in November. It was three days in which Rio's fashion community came together on the city's port area to see and be seen.

Finally, angels and superstars collided once again for the Victoria's Secret annual fashion show in New York in November.

OFFBEAT STORIES

Now for the unusual, the unlikely, the unexpected, the extraordinary or the just plain odd.

We start with the traffic cop who was seen busting some serious moves in Charlotte,North Carolina, on streets that were congested by vehicles and pedestrians during the three-day Democratic National Convention (DNC) in September.

The policeman was reportedly part of a group of SWAT officers from the Clayton County Sheriff's Office who were appointed as temporary traffic marshals, specifically for the DNC.

And showing that age need be no barrier to all-night raving was the indomitable 73-year-old Wika Szmyt, also known as DJ Wika, who spends her retirement days behind a DJ console watching people dance to her rhythms.

She plays disco, rumba or samba for a mostly elderly audience in Poland because she feels she is giving them a new take at life.

Another musical milestone was when, after winning over record label bosses in London, Italian monk Alessandro set out to woo music lovers around the world.

In an age of Internet sensations Friar Alessandro has good backing for his quest - he is one of the first monks in history to land a major global record deal.

His debut album "Voice From Assisi" was released on October 15 through Decca Records/Universal.

"The challenge now for my life is trying to understand why God wanted all this," saidAlessadro.

Meanwhile, The 'Fujikyu Highland theme park sweethearts', Takumi Hashimoto and Azumi Matsuzawa, finally took the plunge in April as roller coaster operator Hashimotoproposed to his true love from the top of the world's steepest roller coaster, the Takabisha, in Yamanashi Prefecture located at the base of Mount Fuji.

Despite being almost completely covered in tattoos and piercings and sporting sets of titanium horns and dentally-implanted fangs, GuadalajaraMexico's famed "Vampire Woman" is challenging stereotypes as she leads a normal life as a successful businesswoman and housewife.

Maria Jose Cristerna, a 36-year-old former attorney and mother of four from a deeply Catholic family background, said she became interested in expressing herself through body modification after years of domestic abuse.

From a vampire woman to a man who can run like a monkey. Limbering up in the suburbs of Tokyo, this is the fastest man on four legs.

For nearly a decade, Kenichi Ito has been perfecting a running style based on Africa's wiry Patas monkey. And he's pretty hard to catch!

US magician David Blaine went toe-to-toe with one million volts of electricity in his latest stunt earlier this year i New York. The magician was elevated to a platform above a high-voltage Tesla coil, dressed in a 20-pound chain-mail suit, and proceeded to shoot purplish arcs of lightning out of his hands all in unison with music.

Meanwhile, a different kind of electricity was in the air on the streets of Paris as French shopaholics were offered a chance to go home with a man in their shopping baskets.

Nestling in the heart of one of Paris's main shopping districts, the 'adopt-a-guy' (adopte-un-mec) boutique opened its doors this week promising a high-end shopping experience for any Parisians searching for Mr. Right.

Eligible bachelors dressed in quirky costumes posed in mock toy boxes -- a whole row of Kens waiting to meet their Barbies.

On a more serious note, the sport of boxing saw a big change as the first professional boxer came out of the closet as a gay man.

Orlando Cruz, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) champ, who is ranked 4th in his division, recently admitted to being homosexual.

Becoming the first openly gay boxer has made history in the sport and captured headlines around the world.

Cruz said it was a difficult and long journey to reach the decision to finally tell his truth.

"I want respect. You know what I mean. I am professional," he told the media.

They may not ever get as fit as a professional boxer, but South Korean students in July attended a boot camp run by retired marines which aims to teach discipline and get participants into better shape.

Instead of lazing around in the summer heat, more than 100 students, clad in military uniforms, underwent grueling marine-style training in Ansan, 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) southwest of Seoul.

And finally, it was the music sensation of the year -- Psy's hit 'Gangnam Style' and it spawned a string of varied parodies.

The US Naval Academy did their own take on Psy's dance, while in another video various super heroes seemed to get in on the act.

In South Korea, more than 600 people from 23 countries danced to the track in October to promote a local dance festival.

The hit song is also the soundtrack to an astonishing festive light show on a home in the Western Australian state of Perth.

Artist Anish Kapoor even got in on the act by remaking the video to 'Gangnam Style' in support of Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei

The influence of the song even went inside the walls of prisons, with seventy inmates in a Bangkok prison taking part in a 'Gangnam Style' dance competition in November

Meanwhile, Olympic rhythmic gymnasts from across the world dance in South Korea to the track.

Finally, if you're ringing in the new year, here's a cautionary tale that tells you to always tread carefully: British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was left red-faced after his bell broke at a bell ringing ceremony, commemorating the first day of the Olympic games inLondon in August, and narrowly avoided causing injury to people standing around him.


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