Beach drones, oat milk money and tax-loving millionaires

Planet Business: British Airways move to sell off its art isn’t an original

Image of the week: Beach patrol

Conspiracy theorists settled upon 5G as their random, nonsensical choice of coronavirus arch-villain, but they could so easily have lit up forums with musings on the motives of drone manufacturers. A police-operated drone is seen here putting David Hasselhoff out of a job above a beach in Sanxenxo, northwestern Spain, with visitors who get a little too close to one another warned to respect social distancing rules – frankly good advice even when there isn't a pandemic. Across the world, beach scenes vary, with only exercise permitted on Melbourne's St Kilda Beach, but sunbathers dotting the sandy stretches of US hotspot Florida. Still, it's the indoor parties that drones haven't been invited to that we should probably be worrying about.

In numbers: People like them



Millionaires including Disney heir Abigail Disney, filmmaker Richard Curtis and Irish venture capitalist John O'Farrell who have put their names to a "millionaires for humanity" letter calling on governments to tax "people like us".


There are more than this number of people in the world classed as “ultra-wealthy”, with fortunes of more than $30 billion, according to property consultants Knight Frank. Of course, that’s only €26 billion.

$75 billion

Not the wealth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but merely the increase in his wealth this year. His total wealth is now knocking on $190 billion.

Getting to know: Toni Petersson

Toni Petersson is a man on a mission, and that mission is to popularise oat milk – specifically that made by Oatly. The Swedish company's chief executive / frontman is marketed as "the original Swedish oat punk" (which makes it sound like there are many others) and he's in the news this week because Oatly has raised $200 million from investment giant Blackstone Group and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman. For Petersson, this goes beyond cereal. "I understand that it may sound naïve to actually believe Oatly can change the world – that the impact of what we do can inspire others to make changes that will lead to a global behavioural shift among consumers – but that's fine," he says. You can't get all that on a carton, though, which is why the plant-based milk is advertised with the line "wow, no cow".

The list: Corporate art sales

There are few surer signs that finance directors have been horrified by the dismal numbers in the company books than the announcement that there is to be a corporate art sale. Here are five of the organisations obliged over the years to flog their classiest investments.

1. British Airways. The airline, owned by Aer Lingus parent IAG, this week said it would ease Covid-19 pain by selling its executive lounge and HQ treasures, including some delightful works by Bridget Riley.

2. RTÉ. Paintings by Louis Le Brocquy and William Scott were among five Montrose-owned pieces to go under the Sotheby's hammer last November. The proceeds were shared with the Arts Council.

3. UniCredit. Italy's biggest bank last year said it would sell its extensive art collection – a legacy of past largesse – to raise millions for a "social impact banking" initiative.

4. Anglo Irish Bank. "Conversation pieces" from the defunct bank's New York office sold for twice the estimated value in a February auction.

5. Lehman’s. The subprime-favouring bank generated $12 million in a 2010 art sale. Alas, this was a mere dot in the vast canvas of billions it owed its creditors.