In the fall of 2011 Rihanna, the pop star and daughter of an accountant, chartered a thirty-four foot, six cabin Benetti Latitude yacht with its own elevator to sail back and forth between Monte Carlo and Cannes in the South of France for $330,000 a week. She had flown in by private jet from England, where, as the plane was waiting for takeoff, her team of handlers repeatedly called the airport assuring them that the singer was indeed on her way. Thousands of dollars were charged every hour to pay for flight clearance, customs, baggage handlers, and security. Once on the plane, her manicurist Kimmie Kyees painted details of the American $100 bill on all ten of her fingers.
In the fall of 2012 Rihanna discovered she was being audited by the IRS. A lawsuit was filed in New York District Court against her former accountants Berdon LLP. It alleged that in 2009, on her Last Girl On Earth tour (which earned $40 million worldwide), Rihanna was told that she was managing "significant net losses" despite the fact that revenue was up. She also discovered that Berdon LLP was taking 22% of the gross profits and she was only being paid 6%. She hired new accountants in response to the ongoing audit; they billed her $460 an hour to redo the last five years of her tax returns.
The Greek government currently owes a combined $87 billion to French, German, and British banks, and cannot pay it back. The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank have approved two bailout loans that will finance Greece's operations until at least 2021. France, Germany, and Britain own more than just Greek debt: museums in Paris, Berlin, and London hold the greatest collection of Hellenic marble sculpture anywhere in the world – all ill-gotten gains looted during times of war and peace.
The contemporary art world can help end Greece's debt crisis. An auction should be held of antiquities such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre, the Pergamon Altarpiece in the Staatliche Museen, and the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. European states could bid on behalf of their institutions to pay for their current holdings, thereby generating restitution payments to Greece while simultaneously cancelling much of its debt. However, this atonement for past transgressions would be difficult in Europe's current economic climate burdened by austerity measures, and risk the final hammer price going to a sovereign with spending power like Moscow, Beijing, or Abu Dhabi.
Paul Sachs, the son of the founder of Goldman Sachs, originated the first course anywhere in museum management, guiding students in the planning and arranging of exhibitions and writing catalogues in the 1920s. His unique seminar at Harvard attracted men who would eventually direct many of America's major art museums. Goldman Sachs' current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, another Harvard alumnus, extends his interest in art only to the dollar figure: he was overheard bragging about "only" paying artist Julie Mehretu $5 million for a mural to display in the lobby of the company's Manhattan headquarters. In 2011 Mehretu's average price at auction was $17 million.
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