This week: Plastic moons, creative differences and auction house activism
Image of the week: Washington impasse
The gates to the children’s playgrounds were padlocked. The road to the Lincoln Memorial was closed. And more than 800,000 government workers were sent home without pay. Washington’s federal shutdown is impressing no one, least of all the federal employees who find their dollars have dried up at a time when the politicians who caused the crisis are still getting paid. In this picture, federal employee John Zangas protests against the madness on Capitol Hill as it rumbled on for a second day.
Meanwhile, a handful of representatives and senators have indicated they will return their salaries or donate them to charity for the duration of their embarrassing failure.
Photograph: Jonathan ernst/Reuters
In Numbers: Burger Off!
Population of Tecoma, a small town near Melbourne, Australia, that serves as the picturesque gateway to its Dandenong Ranges national park. Tecoma residents are objecting to the construction of a 24-hour drive-through McDonald’s in the town.
Number of people who signed a petition organised by the “Burger Off!” campaigners and delivered to the company’s global headquarters in Chicago last month.
Quantity of inflatable kangaroos used by Big Mac-snubbing Tecoma campaigners during the Chicago protest. So far McDonald’s has been unmoved, but at least its menus are yet to feature the McRoo Burger.
The Lexicon: Titanian Tupperware
Earl Silas Tupper, late inventor of the eponymous food containers, would probably be delighted to hear that propylene, the chemical that goes into the making of Tupperware along with many other household plastic items, has been found on Titan.
Nasa’s Cassini probe has discovered propylene on the Saturn moon, the second largest moon in the solar system, in what is the first time that the common Earth chemical has been found anywhere other than this planet. The finding is more of interest to scientists, who now hope to identify other chemicals in Titan’s “chemical zoo” atmosphere, than it is for industrial goods manufacturers. Sadly, the vision of mines on Titan is still the stuff of science fiction.
Getting to know: Nicolas Ghesquière
French fashion designer Ghesquière (signature look: structured silhouettes) is being tipped as the next artistic director of luxury goods giant LVMH, following the exit of Marc Jacobs. Ghesquière headed the Paris fashion house Balenciaga until last November. Since then, his relationship with his ex-employer has, like this season’s hemlines, gone south.
Balenciaga, owned by Kering, is now suing him for $9.2 million in damages after he gave an interview accusing the label of “sucking him dry” – a violation of their speak-no-evil “separation agreement”. It’s all heading towards what is sure to be an impeccably well-dressed court date in October but, in the meantime, Ghesquière may well be given the opportunity to be the creative lead at Kering rival LVMH.
The list: Going, going, gone – off the boil
A major shareholder in Sotheby’s, Daniel Loeb, has told the chief executive/chairman/president of the auction house, William Ruprecht, to resign in a blunt letter in which he criticises Ruprecht’s record on . . . pretty much everything. Sotheby’s, he says, “is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration”. Here are five of his key points of attack:
1 Not enough contemporary and modern art: Ruprecht does not “fully grasp the central importance” of the categories expanding the fastest among new collectors.
2 Distance from the cutting edge: The company has an “inability to even develop a coherent plan for an internet sales strategy, much less implement one”.
3 It’s not as smart as its rival: Loeb, the boss of activist investment firm Third Point, says “Sotheby’s has languished while Christie’s has thrived”.
4 A puzzling “strategy”: The quote marks around “strategy” are Loeb’s.
5 Ruprecht’s remuneration: Not enough company-backing stockholdings, but unjustifiably large cash pay and a benefits package that “invokes the long-gone era of imperial CEOs” (car allowances, elite club membership).