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US Double Eagle gold coin sells for record-smashing $18.9M | Arts and Culture News

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Sotheby’s also auctioned off a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, issued in 1856, for a whopping $8.3 million, making it the most valuable stamp in history.

A 1933 Double Eagle, America’s last gold coin struck for circulation, sold for a record-shattering $18.9m at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Tuesday, and the world’s rarest stamp raked in a whopping $8.3m.

The coin, the only 1933 Double Eagle ever allowed to be privately owned, was expected to pull in somewhere along the lines of $10m to $15m at the auction but sold for far beyond that.

“The 1933 Double Eagle has a richly captivating history which encapsulates large swathes of United States history and has been at the center of intrigue for more than 80 years,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.

With a face value of $20, the 1933 Double Eagle was designed by renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the request of then-US President Theodore Roosevelt.

The coin has Liberty striding forward on one side and the American eagle on the other.

The coins were struck but never issued for use. All 1933 Double Eagles were ordered destroyed after President Franklin Roosevelt, in an effort to lift America’s battered economy from the depths of the Great Depression, took the nation off the gold standard.

Two coins were sent to the Smithsonian Institution, Sotheby’s said.

On Tuesday, the privately owned 1933 Double Eagle coin was sold by American shoe designer and collector Stuart Weitzman.

Weitzman acquired the coin in 2002 for what was then a world record price of $7.6m.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, produced in 1856, is seen encased during a media preview before being auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York City in the United States [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

On Tuesday, Weitzman also auctioned off a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, issued in 1856, for $8.3m. That price solidifies the stamp as the most valuable in history.

“No stamp is rarer than the sole-surviving example of the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, a unique yet unassuming penny issue from 1856, which has been heralded as the pinnacle of stamp collecting for more than a century,” Sotheby’s said.

The stamp is the only surviving one from a series that was printed by the South American nation due to a shortage of stamps from its British colonial rulers at the time.

Weitzman bought the precious stamp in 2014 for $9.5m. In step with the tradition of its past owners, Weitzman made his mark: a line drawing of a stiletto shoe and his initials.

The buyers of both the 1933 Double Eagle and the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp wished to remain anonymous, Sotheby’s said.

A block of four 1918 US airmail stamps known as ‘Inverted Jennies’ are seen encased during a media preview before being auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York City in the United States [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

In addition, a plate block of the 24-cent “Inverted Jenny” stamps, issued in 1918 for the first US airmail letters, sold for $4.9m, making them the most valuable US stamps.

The Inverted Jenny, which was last sold at auction some 26 years ago for $2.9m, has a unique printing error in which its biplane design appears to be upside down.

Sotheby’s said the stamp block was bought by David Rubenstein, a co-founder of private equity company The Carlyle Group.

Weitzman, an avid collector of stamps and coins since he was a little boy, has said he will use the money from Tuesday’s historic coin and stamp auction for his charitable ventures, including a Jewish museum in Madrid, Spain.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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New Zealand’s Hubbard selected as first transgender Olympian | LGBTQ News

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Laurel Hubbard, 43, will compete in the super-heavyweight women’s event in Tokyo.

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after being selected by New Zealand for the women’s event at the Tokyo Games, a decision set to test the ideal of fair competition in sport.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said 43-year-old Hubbard – who was assigned male at birth but transitioned to female in 2013 – had met all the qualification criteria for transgender athletes.

“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said in a statement.

Hubbard will compete in the super-heavyweight 87-kg category after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard, an intensely private person who rarely speaks to the media, said in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday.

Hubbard has been eligible to compete at Olympics since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the guidelines do little to mitigate the biological advantages of people who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density.

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes mean there is never a truly level playing field.

Save Women’s Sport Australasia, an advocacy group for women athletes, criticised Hubbard’s selection.

“It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category,” the group said in a statement.

Weightlifting has been at the centre of the debate about the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women, and Hubbard’s presence in Tokyo could prove divisive.

Her gold medal wins at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where she topped the podium ahead of Samoa’s Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, triggered outrage in the host nation.

Samoa’s weightlifting boss said Hubbard’s selection for Tokyo would be like letting athletes “dope” and feared it could cost the small Pacific nation a medal.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said last month allowing Hubbard to compete at Tokyo was unfair for women and “like a bad joke”.

Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.

Hubbard was forced to withdraw after injuring herself during competition, and thought her career was over.

“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end,” Hubbard said on Monday, thanking New Zealanders.

“But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness.”

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said Hubbard had worked hard to come back from the potentially career-ending injury.

“Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform,” he said.

Hubbard is currently ranked 16th in the world in the super heavyweight category.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News

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Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title

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Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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