- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cashing in

A close friend of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin said Saturday he was appalled at reports of people illegally cashing in on the exuberant entertainer’s legacy.

A 20-year-old woman was arrested and accused of selling fake Steve Irwin stickers she said were to raise money for his Wildlife Warriors fund, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday.

The woman, whose identity was not immediately released, appeared in court early Saturday and was fined, the ABC said.

Mr. Irwin’s close friend and manager, John Stainton, said he was devastated by reports that some people were using the entertainer’s profile to turn a profit.

“Steve would be absolutely appalled by this,” Mr. Stainton told ABC radio.

Mr. Irwin was killed Sept. 4 when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray’s barb while filming a new TV show off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Darfur crusaders

Leading British film and music stars urged the British government Saturday to help end the fighting in the violence-wracked Sudanese region of Darfur.

Musicians Elton John and Annie Lennox, musician-campaigner Bob Geldof and actress Emma Thompson were among those who signed a letter accusing the international community of failing to act.

“We call on our government to move Darfur to the top of its priority list until a U.N. force is deployed and the people of Darfur are protected,” they wrote.

The conflict in Darfur began in early 2003 when black tribes revolted against the Khartoum government. The Arab-dominated Sudanese government has been accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as Janjaweed, who have been blamed for widespread atrocities, including rapes and killings.

U.N. officials have estimated the death toll between 180,000 and 200,000. More than 2 million people have been driven from their homes.

The mandate of an underfunded 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur expires at the end of the month, and the Sudanese government has resisted the deployment of a multinational force authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

Klimts to be sold

Four of the five paintings by Viennese master Gustav Klimt stolen from an Austrian family by Nazis will be auctioned Nov. 8, Christie’s announced Saturday.

The works are being sold after a long legal battle with Austrian authorities over the ownership, which was granted in January to a niece of the original owners, Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer.

One of the works, the 1907 iconic gilt “Adele Bloch Bauer I,” was sold to makeup magnate Ronald Lauder for $135 million, the highest known price ever paid for a painting.

Under the gavel Nov. 8 are: “Adele Bloch Bauer II”; “Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter” (“Hauser in Unterach am Attersee”); “Apple Tree I” (“Apfelbaum I”); and “Birch Forest” (“Buchenwald”).

The four works are expected to bring more than $93 million, Christie’s said.

In January, all five paintings were awarded to Maria Altmann, 90, of Los Angeles, and other relatives after a lengthy restitution battle with the Austrian government. The relatives claimed that the works had been stolen by Nazis before the Austrian government took possession of them.

“The addition of these four powerful artworks in our November sale will make it Christie’s New York’s most important auction ever,” Christie’s president Marc Porter said.

• Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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