US, France Compete For Afghan Gold

Competing groups from France and the US are proposing to tour Afghanistan’s greatest treasure – the Bactrian gold. “The finds from Tillya Tepe, in northern Afghanistan, date from a 2,000-year-old tomb which was discovered in 1978, but they have never been on display for security reasons. The gold alone numbers 20,000 items. Afghanistan still has nowhere with sufficient security to exhibit the material, since the bombed and looted Kabul Museum on the outskirts of town is an extremely damaged building. A touring exhibition would raise money, at least part of which would go to rebuild the museum or establish a new purpose-built museum in the city centre.”

Jim Wolfensohn’s Birthday Party

“It’s good to be Jim Wolfensohn, no question about it. He runs a global institution with 10,000 employees and doles out $30 billion annually to make the world a better place. A career in investment banking made him personally rich-rich-rich. He’s got friends in high places and, because he loves music, is pals with some of the world’s greatest musical artists. So Wolfensohn pulled some strings for the evening. Last night’s performers included Bono, cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Cho-Liang Lin and Sharon Robinson, pianist Vladimir Feltsman, violinists Jaime Laredo and Pinchas Zukerman — and the amateur of the bunch, Wolfensohn. ‘Not a bad group,’ he said with a chuckle.”

Art Basel, Miami Branch

Art Basel converges on Miami Beach after a successful first outing last year. “The Art Basel people have utilized the Miami location to make it a fun event, creating something of the same atmosphere that they have in Basel. It becomes the event. Equally important is that museum directors, curators and patrons are coming. So it’s not just a place for sales. It’s a meeting place.”

My Family, The Wagners

Gottfried Wagner, great grandson of composer Richard Wagner, has a complicated family. “As Gottfried continues to speak, it becomes apparent that Richard Wagner (who died in 1883) isn’t really the source of his angst. Although he firmly believes that his operatic great-grandfather was a raving anti-Semite who harmfully influenced German thought, what Gottfried is most concerned about is his more recent relatives’ involvement in 20th-century Nazi politics, and their subsequent efforts to sanitize the family name. He contends that the family was left in charge of the Bayreuth Festival after the Second World War because they successfully hoodwinked the occupying forces.”

Beethoven Quartet Sells For $2 Million

Beethoven’s Opus 127 String Quartet has sold at auction for just over $2 million. “The scherzo manuscript of the quartet is clearly a working document, with smudges, parts crossed out and late alterations added. Prince Galitzin of Russia, who played cello, commissioned Beethoven to write three quartets in 1822, but the composer was inspired to produce five.”

MTM Quits Neil Simon Play

Mary Tyler Moore has quit Neil Simon’s new play while still in rehearsals. “Ms. Moore was seen storming out the backstage door minutes before the 2 p.m. curtain on Wednesday. Several sources close to the production said she had just received a brusque letter written by Mr. Simon and delivered by his wife, the actress Elaine Joyce, reproaching her for not knowing her lines. Ms. Moore had received prompting through a microphone in her ear, the sources said.”

Cuban Ballet’s Defecting Dancers

This fall, five dancers from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba leftr the company during an American tour to seek asylum “Since November of last year, they said, a total of 20 dancers have defected in Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic and, now, the United States. The troupe had about 90 dancers before the defections. The company and the government have taken steps to stop the exodus. The dancers described a summer meeting in which Abel Prieto, the culture minister, announced that the ministry was considering allowing some dancers to work with foreign companies, which would give them international exposure.”

The Royal’s Bits And Pieces

London’s Royal Ballet has to sell tickets. So it produces mostly programs of full-length ballets. “Since the death of Kenneth MacMillan, the company has not had a resident choreographer, nor a candidate fit for the role, in itself a failing. Instead, bought-in goods, some wonderful, some frightful, papered over the chasms in artistic policy.” This month the company shows off some shorter works…