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Ethiopian artist, Julie Mehretu breaks African art-sale world record



Ethiopian-born artist, Julie Mehretu has broken the record for the highest sale price of any work by an African artist at an auction.

The US-based artist broke her own record when her abstract painting, “Walkers With the Dawn and Morning”, sold for $10.7m (£8.6m) at an exhibition at Sotheby in New York.

According to the organizers of the auction, Mehretu’s piece features ink and acrylic on canvas and takes its name from a 1920s Langston Hughes poem.

The auction saw two bidders competing for the artwork with the price gradually edging higher and higher and finally went for $9.5m, but the final cost took it to the record-breaking sum of $10.7m.

Mehretu was also the previous record holder at $9.3m which was set last month.

The 52-year-old Mehretu was born in Ethiopia and moved with her family to the US in 1977 when political strife was at its peak in the country.

From a humble beginning, Mehretu has grown to become one of the most prominent names in African contemporary art world.

In 2005, Mehretu painted “Walkers With the Dawn” and “Morning” as part of an exhibition which created an instant response to Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the US city of New Orleans.

Earlier this year, Mehretu was chosen to create BMW’s next Art Car and her work will be painted onto a BMW car that will be part of the “24 Hours of Le Mans” race next year.


Switzerland returns stolen 2,000-year-old marble head to Libya



In what has been described as a significant move, Switzerland federal authorities have returned the marble head of a young woman from the Hellenistic period believed to be around 2,000 years old to Libya, 10 years after it was discovered in a warehouse in Geneva.

The Swiss Federal Office of Culture said in a statement on Wednesday that it had handed over the marble sculpture to the Libyan Embassy in Bern as part of restitutional framework of the law on the international transfer of cultural property.

The sculpture, which is 19 centimetres high, according to the North African Federal Office of Culture, dates from between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD.

Historians say the object probably came from the archaeological site of the ancient city of Cyrene in present day Libya.

“It is an archaeological vestige of great value and an exceptional testimony to Hellenistic expansion in North Africa,” the office of culture said in a statement.

Local media reports that the cultural artefact was found during a customs inspection in a customs warehouse in Geneva in 2013, and was confiscated during criminal proceedings in 2016 on suspicion that it had come from a looted excavation.

“The marble head is entirely covered with a reddish patina which provides information on its origin, according to which the Cyrenaica region is one of the rare regions in the Mediterranean basin where we find terra rossa and marble of such quality,” a media report said.

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Veteran Caribbean musician Wyclef Jean partners with Nigerian state to create entertainment hub



Veteran Caribbean musician and philanthropist, Wyclef Jean, has partnered Plateau State in North Central Nigerian to create a first ever entertainment and commerce hub meant to harness the creative potentials in the state.

The deal, which was sealed in the United States during a visit by the State Governor, will see Jean and the Caribbean International Commerce (CICH) acquiring more than 4,000 hectares of land for the audacious project.

Confirming the development in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Press to the Governor, Gyang Bere, said bold engagements by Caleb Mutfwang in the US had started yielding results with the groundbreaking partnership announced with Wyclef.

“The venture is expected to revolutionize both the local and global landscapes, featuring state-of-the-art music and movie studios, a tokenized platform for equitable wealth distribution, and a commitment to eco-friendly practices,” Bere said.

“Cutting-edge energy glass solar technology and sustainable building practices underline the project’s dedication to environmental stewardship are all part of the planned hub.

“A significant aspect of the project is the establishment of state-of-the-art music and movie studios, which will serve as a creative incubator for emerging talents.

“The project also embraces green technology, energy glass solar, cutting-edge manufacturing facilities, and sustainable housing developments in its comprehensive approach,” he added.

Also, a joint statement issued by Jean and CICH described the collaboration as a “major shift in commerce and entertainment, marking the initiation of an extraordinary project that blends innovation, sustainability, and star power.”

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