- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stone falls

Keith Richards’ fans gathered yesterday outside a Wellington, New Zealand, hospital where the Rolling Stones guitarist was believed to be undergoing treatment for a mild concussion reportedly suffered when he fell out of a palm tree on vacation in Fiji.

One newspaper reported that Mr. Richards, 62, got on a Jet Ski after the fall and had another accident. Several Australian and New Zealand press outlets reported the fall from the tree.

Band spokeswoman Fran Curtis has said only that Mr. Richards was injured last week and flown to New Zealand with his wife, Patti, for observation. Her statement Saturday did not comment on Mr. Richards’ condition or how he was injured.

New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times quoted Dr. Uzzel Kanti Dhar saying that Mr. Richards was admitted to Suva Private Hospital in the Fijian capital on Thursday, the same day he was said to have fallen from the tree.

Mr. Richards reportedly was airlifted to Auckland’s Ascot Hospital later that day.

Mr. Richards and his wife were staying at the exclusive Wakaya Club resort on a small Fijian island when he reportedly was injured.

The Rolling Stones played a concert in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 18 as part of their “A Bigger Bang” world tour. The group’s next scheduled concert is late May at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, followed by 34 more dates across Europe.

Tax problems

The Swedish tax authority is demanding nearly $11.6 million in back taxes, fees and interest from Bjorn Ulvaeus on royalties from the pop group ABBA’s hits.

According to the Swedish tax agency, Mr. Ulvaeus signed a series of contracts before moving to England in 1984. The contracts were meant to hand over the rights to his royalties from ABBA songs and the musical “Chess” to different companies.

But the agency claimed in a decision made in December that the deals were sham contracts and that Mr. Ulvaeus still had access to the money and should include them as his personal income.

“This has just been a construction to avoid taxes,” agency spokesman Jan-Erik Backman said Friday.

The ruling, which concerns tax returns filed between 1998 and 2003, will be appealed, Mr. Ulvaeus’ lawyer, Sven Rygaard, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “We are pretty convinced we will win this,” Mr. Rygaard said. “We will explain to the tax authority how this was done. I don’t think they have managed to understand how this has worked.”

Mr. Ulvaeus was part of the Swedish group in the 1970s and 1980s. He has since written several musicals together with fellow ABBA member Benny Andersson.

Titanic relic

A locket that nearly went down with the Titanic and a survivor’s handwritten account of the 1912 disaster were sold at auction Saturday.

American passenger Helen Churchill Candee’s 36-page description of the ship’s sinking, which fetched $85,000 in the sale, describes how she gave her locket to Edward Kent, a friend on board the ship, for safekeeping after the Titanic hit the iceberg that destroyed it.

The locket, which sold for $100,000, was found in Kent’s jacket pocket when his body was recovered.

Candee survived the disaster in a lifeboat. It is not clear when she wrote her account, the auction house said.

The items, purchased by collectors who asked to remain anonymous, were among about 300 Titanic-related lots auctioned by Henry Aldridge and Son house in western England, said Andrew Aldridge, head of maritime memorabilia there.

Before boarding a lifeboat, Candee handed a silver flask and the gilt locket containing a picture of her mother to Kent, saying “Take these for me, you know we women have no pockets,” she wrote in her manuscript.

“But Kent drew back his hands; angered, I commanded, ‘Take them,’ ” she wrote. “His eyes appealed to mine. I [knew then what he meant]. … But he took my treasures [though silently] against his soul’s prophecy and slipped out of the cabin [and disappeared]. We never saw him again.”

Candee, a travel correspondent heading home to America to see her injured son, also described passengers wearing life jackets over their evening gowns and bathrobes as they climbed a staircase to one of the ship’s decks.

“The crowd looked strangely like dancers in a [costume] ball,” she wrote. “The Dance of Death to be the next number.”

Compiled from wire reports by Kevin Chaffee

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