Looking back: The changemakers we lost in 2018

Notable deaths of 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018

Looking back: The changemakers we lost in 2018

PARIS: From soul diva Aretha Franklin to astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and former UN chief Kofi Annan, here are some of the notable figures who passed away in 2018:
Dolores O’Riordan, singer-songwriter of Irish band The Cranberries, drowned accidentally in a hotel bath aged 46.

Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish founder of affordable flat-pack furnishing empire IKEA, passed away at home aged 91.

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, famous for the “little black dress,” died in his sleep aged 91.

Physicist Stephen Hawking, Britain’s most famous modern-day scientist and known for popularising the secrets of the universe, died at home aged 76. He spent most of his life in a wheelchair and communicated via a computer speech synthesiser.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela and an anti-apartheid icon in her own right, died in hospital aged 81 and after a long illness.

Barbara Bush, the wife of US president George H.W. Bush (in office between 1989 and 1993) and mother of president George W. Bush (2001-2009), passed away aged 92.

Swedish superstar DJ Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, was found dead in Muscat aged 28, reportedly after committing suicide.

American handbag designer Kate Spade committed suicide at the age of 55.

US chef and television food show host Anthony Bourdain, 61, committed suicide in Alsace, eastern France, where he was filming for his Emmy-winning CNN food and travel program “Parts Unknown.”

XXXTentacion, a 20-year-old rapper whose grim rhymes propelled him to the top of the US chart, was shot in Florida in a possible robbery attempt.

French “chef of the century” Joel Robuchon, who at one point held a record 32 Michelin stars at the same time, died aged 73 from pancreatic cancer.

Aretha Franklin, American “Queen of Soul” behind hits such as “Respect” and “Natural Woman,” died of cancer aged 76. Her nearly eight-hour funeral was attended by former presidents, stars and musical royalty.

Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations between 1997 and 2006, died after a short illness at age 80. He was given a state funeral in his native Ghana.

John McCain — US Republican senator, Vietnam War hero and two-time presidential candidate — died aged 81 following a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Charles Aznavour, legendary French-Armenian crooner, passed away at the age of 94.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates and later a billionaire and philanthropist, died from cancer aged 65.

Gilberto Benetton, one of the founders of the eponymous Italian clothes brand, died aged 77 after an illness.

American comics legend Stan Lee — co-creator of global action hero favorites including Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men and Black Panther — passed away aged 95.

Former US president George H.W. Bush died aged 94, just months after his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush. They were the parents of president George W. Bush.

Belgium’s richest man, multi-billionaire entrepreneur Albert Frere, passed away aged 92.


Stolen Picasso unearthed by ‘Indiana Jones of art’

Updated 26 March 2019

Stolen Picasso unearthed by ‘Indiana Jones of art’

  • The 1938 masterpiece entitled ‘Portrait of Dora Maar’, also known as ‘Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)’, was handed to an insurance company earlier this month
  • Arthur Brand won world fame in 2015 after finding ‘Hitler’s Horses’

THE HAGUE: A Dutch art detective dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the Art World” has struck again, finding a Picasso painting worth €25 million stolen from a Saudi sheikh’s yacht on the French Riviera in 1999.
Arthur Brand said he had handed back the 1938 masterpiece entitled “Portrait of Dora Maar,” also known as “Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)” to an insurance company earlier this month.
The discovery of the rare portrait of Maar, one of Pablo Picasso’s most influential mistresses, is the culmination of a four-year investigation into the burglary on the luxury yacht Coral Island, as she lay anchored in Antibes.
Two decades after its theft and with no clues to its whereabouts, the French police were stumped — and the portrait, which once hung in the Spanish master’s home until his death in 1973, was feared lost forever.
But after a four-year trail which led through the Dutch criminal underworld, two intermediaries turned up on Brand’s Amsterdam doorstep 10 days ago with the missing picture.
“They had the Picasso, now valued at €25 million wrapped in a sheet and black rubbish bags with them,” Brand said.
It was yet another success for Brand, who hit the headlines last year for returning a stolen 1,600-year-old mosaic to Cyprus.
He won world fame in 2015 after finding “Hitler’s Horses,” two bronze statues made by Nazi sculptor Joseph Thorak — a discovery about which he had a book out earlier this month.
The theft of the Picasso, valued at around seven million dollars at the time, baffled French police, sent the super-rich scurrying to update boat security and prompted the offer of a big reward.
In 2015, Brand first got wind that a “Picasso stolen from a ship” was doing the rounds in the Netherlands, although “at that stage I didn’t know which one exactly.”
It turned out that the painting had entered the criminal circuit, where it circled for many years “often being used as collateral, popping up in a drug deal here, four years later in an arms deal there,” said.
It took several years and a few dead ends before pinning down that it was actually the Picasso stolen from a Saudi billionaire’s yacht as the mega-cruiser was being refurbished, Brand said.
Brand put out word on the street that he was looking for “Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)” and in early March he struck gold.
“Two representatives of a Dutch businessman contacted me, saying their client had the painting. He was at his wits’ end,” said Brand.
“He thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal. It turns out the deal was legitimate — the method of payment was not,” Brand laughed.
Brand called the Dutch and French police — who had since closed the case — and who said they would not prosecute the current owner.
“Since the original theft, the painting must have changed hands at least 10 times,” said Brand.
Brand said he had to act quickly, otherwise the painting may have disappeared back into the underworld.
“I told the intermediaries, it’s now or never, because the painting is probably in a very bad state... We have to act as soon as we can.”
Then, just over a week ago, Brand’s doorbell rang at his modest apartment in Amsterdam, and the intermediaries were there with the painting.
After unwrapping it, “I hung the Picasso on my wall for a night, thereby making my apartment one of the most expensive in Amsterdam for a day,” Brand laughed.
The following day, a Picasso expert from New York’s Pace Gallery flew in to verify its authenticity at a high-security warehouse in Amsterdam.
Also present was retired British detective Dick Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard’s art and antiquities squad, representing an unnamed insurance company.
“There is no doubt that this is the stolen Picasso,” Ellis, who now runs a London-based art risk consultancy business, said.
Ellis is famous for recovering many stolen artworks including Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” lifted from the National Gallery of Norway in 1994.
“It’s not only the public interest to recover stolen works of art,” he said. “You are also reducing the amount of collateral that is circling the black market and funds criminality.”
“Buste de Femme” is back in possession of the insurance company, which now had to decide the next steps, Brand and Ellis said.