Do You See A Trend….

September 1, 2008

Three days ago, the French luxury group Hermes, most famous for their silk scarves, announced a deal to work with yacht builder Wally of Monaco.  Today, Hermes’ major rival in the luxury industry, LVMH (Louis Vuitton), announced that they too were getting into the high-end yacht business.  They will be buying Royal van Lent, whose yachts start at $44 million.

This tells me that, no matter what the general economy does in the next little while, the top-end wealth market is and will remain in good shape.  I’m sure that recessions and depressions were supposed to be great equalizers;  but that model doesn’t hold any more.

Muons For Mayans

September 1, 2008

OK, I’m excited.  Particle physics and archaeology are coming together to investigate Mayan mounds, most of which have not been excavated.  No-one really knows what is inside these impressive structures.  But now, scientists working with muon detectors are coming to help.

The first major experiment of the Maya Muon Group will bridge the disciplines of physics and archeology. The particle detectors and related systems are designed specifically to explore ruins of a Maya pyramid in collaboration with colleagues at the UT Mesoamerican Archaeological Laboratory. The Maya Muon Group will travel to La Milpa in northwest Belize to make discoveries about “Structure 1” – a jungle-covered mound covering an unexplored Maya ruin.

Pointing out that dense materials block more muons, Patel explains that a muon detector can actually detect rooms, spaces, and caves inside what seems to be solid:  A detector next to a Maya pyramid, for example, will see fewer particles coming from the direction of the structure than from other angles: a muon “shadow.” And if a part of that pyramid is less dense than expected – containing an open space for, say, a royal burial – it will have less of a shadow. Count enough muons that have passed through the pyramid over the course of several months, and they will form an image of its internal structure, just like light makes an image on film. Then combine the images from three or four devices and a 3-D reconstruction of the pyramid’s guts will take shape.

Fascinating stuff.  The article at BLDGBLOG goes much further and is well worth the read.

Bacon In Moscow

September 1, 2008

I have written before about the Moscow art scene, dominated by two women attached to multi-billionaire Russian moguls.  Now, Dhasha Zukhova, girlfriend-partner to Roman Abramovich, has announced the first major international show at her CCC Moscow mega-gallery.

Entitled “Death Shadowing Life: Francis Bacon: The Late Paintings, 1971-92”, [the show] will be curated by Martin Harrison, author of the artist’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné and will travel to the Hermitage in St Petersburg.

Good for her.  It helps that her boyfriend bought a tryptich by Francis Bacon in May for $86m, the highest price ever paid for a post-war work.  It will no doubt be a centrepiece of the exhibition.