- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Adoption defended

Madonna said yesterday that she acted according to the law in taking custody of a 1-year-old Malawian boy, Associated Press reports.

The pop star’s statement, her first response to the fierce debate about the legality and morality of the planned adoption, came after she was united with David Banda at her London mansion. The Material Mom said she hopes to make the adoption permanent following an l8-month evaluation period imposed by Malawi authorities. Malawian government officials said they had no objection to the adoption, AP reports.

“We have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law, like anyone else who adopts a child. Reports to the contrary are totally inaccurate,” Madonna said in the statement, issued via e-mail.

Madonna said she and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, began the adoption process “many months prior to our trip to Malawi” but had not disclosed their intentions because she wished to keep the matter private.

“After learning that there were over 1 million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and, in many cases, death, as well as expand our family,” Madonna said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Malawian rights groups yesterday won a court date to challenge Madonna’s adoption bid, Agence France-Presse reports. The group was given permission to present its case in detail at the high court on Friday after petitioning a judge in the administrative capital Lilongwe, Justin Dzodzi, chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee umbrella grouping, said. Mr. Dzodzi said the group had investigated and established “enough reasons to fight for safeguards in the interim order to ensure that the child is protected as Madonna has no parental rights.” He said David’s father, a poor 32-year-old illiterate farmer, and his relatives believed that the boy had been taken for “custody and not adoption.”

David’s mother died after giving birth, AP said.

Madonna joins a growing list of celebrities — including Mia Farrow, Angelina Jolie and Meg Ryan — who have adopted children from developing countries.

Wynn some, lose some

Pablo Picasso’s “dream” painting has turned into a $139 million nightmare for Steve Wynn.

Mr. Wynn accidentally poked a hole in Mr. Picasso’s 74-year-old painting “Le Reve,” French for “The Dream,” the Las Vegas Review Journal reports. A day earlier, according to an account he gave to New Yorker magazine, Mr. Wynn had finalized a record $139 million deal for the painting of Mr. Picasso’s mistress.

The accident occurred as Mr. Wynn, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa (an eye disease that affects peripheral vision), struck the painting with his right elbow while gesturing, leaving a hole the size of a silver dollar in the left forearm of Marie-Theresa Walter, Mr. Picasso’s 21-year-old mistress.

Mr. Wynn — who plans to restore “Le Reve” and keep it — paid $48.4 million for the Picasso in 1997 and had agreed to sell it to art collector Steven Cohen. According to the New Yorker, the $139 million would have been $4 million higher than the previous high for a work of art. In July, Cosmetics magnate Ronald Lauder paid $135 million for Gustav Klimt’s 1907 portrait “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.”

Tax man nabs Snipes

Actor Wesley Snipes was indicted yesterday on eight counts of tax fraud accusing him of bilking $12 million from the government in false refund claims, AP reports.

The star, 44, also failed to file tax returns for six years, according to an indictment unsealed in Tampa, Fla.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Snipes — star of “New Jack City,” several Spike Lee films and the action-packed “Blade” franchise — fraudulently claimed the refunds in 1996 and 1997. The indictment also charged him with failure to file returns between 1999 and 2004. According to the indictment, Mr. Snipes had his taxes prepared by accountants with a history of filing false returns to reap payments for their clients. As part of the deal, the indictment charges, the firm, American Rights Litigators, would receive 20 percent of refunds from clients.

Mr. Snipes faces a maximum of 16 years in prison.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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