Life and Style wRap: Call of Duty, Disneyland, modern art
MANILA, Philippines - Here are some Life and Style stories you might have missed this week.
'Call of Duty' videogame sales top US$1 bn in first day
Sales of the latest edition in the "Call of Duty" video game franchise topped $1 billion on the first day, the publisher said Wednesday, November 6.
"Call of Duty: Ghosts," which went on sale around the world on Tuesday, "has delivered yet another epic thrill ride in the campaign, and what I think is our best multiplayer game yet," said Eric Hirshberg, chief executive of Activision Publishing.
Impressionist, modern art fetches $290M in New York
Sotheby's on Wednesday auctioned off more than $290 million in impressionist and modern art in New York with old favorites Picasso, Monet and Giacometti commanding the highest bids.
The flagship November evening sale attracted record interest from Asian and Latin American buyers, underscoring extraordinary growth in an increasingly global market.
The top lot was a bronze bust by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti of his brother Diego, considered one of his best sculptures, which went for $50M, its highest pre-sale estimate.
A 1935 Pablo Picasso portrait of his muse and mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, who was pregnant at the time, also sold for $39.9M, well over its estimated $20-$30M.
Picasso's "Mousquetaire a la pipe" set a new auction record for a late work by the artist, going for just under $31M soaring above its pre-sale estimate of $12-18M.
Another record was set a piece of work by Italian futurist Giacomo Balla, whose "Automobile in corsa" sold for around $11.5M, although just below the estimate of $12-18M.
There was also strong sales of work by French favorite Claude Monet, whose "Glacons, effet blanc" led at $14.25M.
Sotheby's haul of $290M is its second highest for impressionist and modern art at an evening sale after May 2012 when Edvard Munch's "The Scream" sold for $119.9M, the most expensive piece of art ever sold in the world.
Most of the 64 lots, including the top 5 selling works, had never before been offered at auction, a key factor that drove sales, Sotheby's officials said.
One of the most marked trends of the evening was the continued power of Asian bidding, said David Norman, co-chairman of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's.
"We've just seen an explosive growth. This is a very sophisticated group of buyers. They enter the market at the highest level... It's really quite extraordinary," he said.
Sotheby's success came one day after rival auction house Christie's fell short of expectations, netting $144.3 million for its own sales in impressionist and modern art.
The house initially estimated sales at $188.8 to $277.7M.
Next week are the sales of post-war and contemporary art, which feature some of the finest masterpieces of 20th century art and will be the highlights of New York's November auction season.
Tantric massage subject to 'sex tax,' German court rules
Tantric massages deliver sexual pleasure and are subject to the same tax levied on brothels and swinger clubs in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart, a local court ruled Thursday.
The decision by an administrative court in the city followed a complaint by the owner of a massage studio who had been billed a total of 840 euros ($1,100) for January and February 2012 under a local "amusement tax."
The court said that a studio offering the massages falls under the same tax levied on businesses that provide the "granting of opportunity for sexual pleasures."
The studio owner had argued that Tantric massages should be exempt because "although the genital area is involved during the massage, the main purpose of the treatment is not sexual pleasure," the court said in a statement.
Rather, the owner argued, the massage is aimed at providing holistic well-being and self-awareness, it added. But the court stressed that because massages including the genital area can be booked for a fee, the business fit the requirements of the so-called amusement tax which is calculated according to the size of the business.
"The question of whether the massages offered are focused on sexual pleasures or not, however, is not relevant to the case," the court statement said.
The studio owner can appeal the ruling.
Disneyland Paris attracts a million fewer visitors
Disneyland Paris attracted a million fewer visitors this year after a record 2012, its operator said Thursday, as the debt crisis in Europe hurt demand in the tourism sector.
Visitorship fell to 14.9 million for the financial year ending September, compared to 16 million in 2012, the theme park's operator Euro Disney said.
The slump was mostly due to a drop in French visitors – who fell by 600,000. The theme park also recorded fewer Spanish and Italian visitors, although more British and Germans turned up. Overall sales slipped 1.1% to 1.31 billion euros ($1.75 billion) for the year.
Although the group managed to cut its net loss for the year by 25% to 64.4 million euros, that was only achieved through a 1.3 billion-euro refinancing from its US parent firm Walt Disney Company.
"2013 was a challenging year for Europe's tourism and leisure industry. We felt this in theme park attendance and hotel occupancy, notably with fewer guests coming from France and Southern Europe," said Euro Disney chief executive officer Philippe Gas.
The theme park's hotels recorded 105,000 fewer room nights sold.
Nevertheless, the chief executive was optimistic that the visitors would return.
"We need to continue investing to increase the spending per visitor. And when the crisis eases, the volumes will return," said Gas. "The tourism industry is suffering from an economic problem, not a problem of demand or disenchantment," he added. - with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com