‘Poker princess’ Molly Bloom on her stranger-than-fiction life

Molly BloomImage copyright
Lisa Gallagher

Image caption

Molly Bloom says it was “deeply emotional” to see her life made into a film

It’s a bit of a strange experience, sitting down in a hotel to chat to someone whose life you’ve just seen portrayed on a big screen, witnessing their biggest triumphs and personal disasters.

Imagine how it feels then for “poker princess” Molly Bloom herself, seeing Jessica Chastain slip into her shoes and present her story to the world in Molly’s Game.

It could all have gone very differently – with a prison sentence instead of a film premiere.

She’s the first to admit it, and indeed very keen to do so, saying (seconds after the interview begins): “I feel it’s important to establish that the difficulties of the last six or seven years were of my own making.

“I just never imagined I would be here. Particularly after pleading guilty to a federal sentence, not knowing what consequences, long-term, that was going to hold for me. Having such exorbitant debt and no money.

“You know, I made a giant mess. So to be here in London… it feels very magical and fairy tale-ish. It’s an extraordinary moment that was not foreseen.”

Image copyright
Entertainment One

Image caption

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba star in Molly’s Game

Bloom, a former world-class skier whose sporting career was cut short after an accident, was meant to be going to law school. But instead, she ended up setting up exclusive high-stakes poker games for Hollywood’s elite.

Hundreds of millions of dollars changed hands – she says one of the most surreal moments of that period was when she counted out a million dollars in cash by hand.

But for all the wealth and excitement of that lifestyle, there was a very dark side. She was beaten by the Russian mafia, started using drugs and had her assets seized after a 2011 FBI raid.

Two years later, they arrested her in New York, and she was charged with profiting from hosting illegal games.

She was among more than 30 people charged with a variety offences relating to a vast illegal gambling and money laundering operation. Bloom faced up to five years in prison, but after entering a plea deal was sentenced to probation and fined.

Afterwards, Bloom wrote a book detailing her experiences, and then approached her “favourite writer” Aaron Sorkin to adapt it for the big screen.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Aaron Sorkin directed the film

The first time Bloom saw the film was at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year – in an audience along with hundreds of other people, watching her as she watched someone else play her.

“It was deeply emotional,” she says, emphatically. “I don’t know why I wanted to do it that way.

“The studio and Aaron said I should sit down, see it with my family in an empty theatre. I said, ‘no, I’ll just see go see it at Toronto’. With 2,000 people. And then there was a moment five minutes in, sitting in that theatre, where I was like, what was I thinking? This is crazy. And how am I going to get through the next two hours and 25 minutes, because I feel like I can’t breathe.

“But halfway into that opening scene, I was just watching a movie. And I was able to get outside of myself – even though I couldn’t have possibly brought more personal baggage. I was able to just watch it as an extraordinary film. And then of course there were some deeply connective and emotional experiences, when the audience is experiencing these things with you.

“Your scariest moments, your darkest nights. Your biggest triumphs. And they’re with you. They’re crying at the sad parts, and they’re laughing. That was such a cathartic experience for me. Because you suffer alone, mostly. Even if there are people around to help you, you don’t suffer with an audience, you don’t triumph with an audience. But this was. And it was an extraordinary night.”

Image copyright
Entertainment One

Image caption

Bloom organised the poker games in hotel suites

She admits her life felt stranger than fiction “all the time”.

“Getting the book published and the movie made was not an easy task,” she says. “But it helped. Because even though it’s a difficult life to explain, I lived it.

“So I knew there was a real story there and something that we haven’t seen. Because there were these moments continuously of – ‘is this real life? This feels like a movie’.”

One side of that story is what she calls the “cinematic wish fulfilment” with the “makeovers, shopping sprees, lots of cash, access to celebrities”.

Blooms adds: “But the biggest moments for me were when you take this calculated risk in which the odds are so stacked against you.

“You’re going up against the billionaire boys’ club or trying to find your way into something you have no basis for, and it’s bigger than anything you ever imagined – and then actually having that work. Having that risk pan out. It taught me to be very fearless – maybe too fearless in the end”.

But although others had been speaking to her about the project, the questions Sorkin asked “were markedly different”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The film’s UK premiere took place in London earlier this month

“He wanted to know about my relationship with my father. He wanted to know about my sports background. A lot of time, they came out of left-field but they all came together.”

She said it makes the film, instead of being about that flashy lifestyle, look at the wider human experience – albeit “set on a strange, larger than life stage”.

And Bloom is full of praise for “extraordinary” Jessica Chastain, who stars alongside Idris Elba (who plays Bloom’s lawyer) and Kevin Costner (who plays her father).

“She blew my mind,” she says. “Because she didn’t get to spend much time with me – she has a packed schedule and this was a short prep time.

“I was wondering as they were filming, ‘is she just going to do her own creative interpretation of this?’. But when I watched that movie, the handle she has on emotion! She was able to communicate the intricacies of how I felt in those moments. This was such a weird world and not one that’s so easy to intuit your way into. She just captured it, all of it, so beautifully. She blew me away.”

The film being released feels like “a fresh start” for Bloom. She says after her work on it was done, after she’d completed 200 hours of community service, she went back home.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Bloom says she did not get to spend much time with Chastain – but loved her performance

“I did a little soul searching to explore where I had gone wrong, why I made the decisions I did, how my definitions of success and ambition were off,” she says. “I love a great new pair of shoes, I love to look at my bank account and see zeroes, but what is it attached to?

“Making it about something larger than myself is certainly a lesson. If I’d had that understanding, when I started being dealt bad cards, I wouldn’t have played them. I would have understood it’s time to walk away and try something new. But I was so identified by the money and this position.”

She says despite the power and the wealth, she felt an “emptiness”. She now wants to fill that by doing something “purposeful” – to that end, she plans to work with female entrepreneurs and create co-working spaces and networking events.

But just how much of Sorkin’s film is actually true to what happened in those crazy years of Bloom’s life?

“He inflated my LSAT (law school exam) score, gave me a few extra points,” she smiles. “But for the most part he made a movie that was very rooted in the truth. I had a lot of trauma – so there’s a lot to choose from. But I feel he cherry-picked the best moments and wove them all together, in this incredible story.”

Molly’s Game is released in the UK on 1 January 2018.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42279034

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Model of an AT-AT walkerImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

A towering model of a Star Wars attack vehicle stood at the entrance to the theatre

Stormtroopers, an AT-AT Walker and a panoply of droids brought the Star Wars universe to downtown Los Angeles at the premiere of The Last Jedi.

The much-anticipated first screening of the franchise’s latest episode was dedicated to the late Carrie Fisher, who died last December aged 60.

Fisher, playing General Leia, finished work on the movie before her death.

Writer-director Rian Johnson opened the screening with a tribute, urging fans to “have a blast… for Carrie”.

“I want to dedicate tonight to Carrie, who is up there right now flipping me the bird, saying ‘Damn it Rian, don’t you dare make this night a solemn tribute,’” said Johnson, who brought the stars of the film onstage to introduce it.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Actors Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie and Domhnall Gleeson were applauded at the premiere

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Carrie Fisher died last December after completing her work on the movie

Is it any good?

Formal reviews of the film have been embargoed until later in the week, but guests at the premiere have already been pouring out their thoughts on social media.

Joshus Yehl, editor of IGN Comics, said he gasped, laughed, screamed and cried at what might be “the best Star Wars movie ever”.

Skip Twitter post by @JoshuaYehl

End of Twitter post by @JoshuaYehl

Grae Drake, a senior editor with movie and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes, described it as “as epic and sweeping as all the other films combined” with moments “that will make your head pop off” – in a good way.

Skip Twitter post by @graedrake

End of Twitter post by @graedrake

Film critic Scott Mantz said The last Jedi was “a little too long and dragged in the middle”, but said it was a “worthy Episode VIII” – and that Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill was “awesome”.

Skip Twitter post by @MovieMantz

End of Twitter post by @MovieMantz

Meanwhile, Mark Hamill himself referenced the lyrics to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with a tweet from the auditorium, ending with a plea to fans to “keep the secrets of VIII”.

Skip Twitter post by @HamillHimself

End of Twitter post by @HamillHimself

Daisy Ridley: I deleted my social media

Princes William and Harry are stormtroopers in Last Jedi

Last Jedi: Four big questions we want answers to

Fisher given ‘amazing’ send-off in Last Jedi

What’s it about?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII in the movie franchise that started in 1977) follows on from the 2015 film The Force Awakens, and opens with the Resistance trying to fight off Supreme Leader Snoke’s First Order, which is trying to take over the galaxy.

Meanwhile, leading character Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to persuade Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to join the Resistance fight and bring a spark of hope to the rebels.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Daisy Ridley met fans and signed autographs on the red carpet

“There hasn’t been a Star Wars movie yet that has explored war the way The Last Jedi has,” said John Boyega, who plays the heroic stormtrooper-turned-rebel Finn.

“It’s very messy. The categorising of good and evil is all mixed together.”

Oscar Isaac, who plays X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron, added: “It’s a dire situation, it’s critical. The Resistance is on its last legs.

“When you’re trying to survive, the First Order’s right on top of us, it is like war, where you’ve got to keep moving to try to survive. You feel the momentum of everything that happened in The Force Awakens just pushing to a critical mass.”

What will success look like?

Experts are predicting the movie – which opens on 15 December – will gross about $220m (£164m) on its opening weekend in the United States. That would push it into second place on the all-time list, ahead of Jurassic World but behind 2015′s The Force Awakens, which made some $248m on its opening weekend.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Longtime characters R2-D2 and C-3PO were among the droids represented on the red carpet

Gwendoline Christie, who plays stormtrooper commander Captain Phasma, said the franchise had an enduring appeal.

“I think it’s because the world we live in is a changing and evolving place that it retains the simplicity of those elements,” she said.

“But it really resonates with what it is to follow your own human, dark, narcissistic tendencies, where that will take you.”

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Fans dressed up for the occasion, wearing Star Wars replica gear


Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42300989

Max Clifford dies in hospital aged 74

Max CliffordImage copyright
PA

Image caption

Max Clifford had been serving an eight-year jail sentence for sex offences

Disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford has died in hospital, aged 74, after collapsing in prison.

Clifford collapsed in his cell at Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire on Thursday and again on Friday, his daughter said. He was taken to hospital where he suffered a cardiac arrest.

He had been serving an eight-year sentence for historical sex offences.

The Ministry of Justice said as with all deaths in custody, there would an investigation by the ombudsman.

A spokeswoman added: “Our condolences are with Mr Clifford’s family at this difficult time.”

His daughter Louise, 46, had told the Mail on Sunday that Clifford first collapsed in his cell on Thursday when he was trying to clean it, adding: “It was just too much.”

She said he collapsed again the next day and was unconscious for several minutes, and after seeing a nurse was transferred to a local hospital where he suffered a cardiac arrest on Friday.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

During his trial he accused his victims of being fantasists

The Ministry of Justice confirmed Clifford died in hospital on 10 December.

In May 2014, Clifford was jailed after being convicted of eight historical indecent assaults on women and young girls under Operation Yewtree – the Met Police investigation set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

During this trial, evidence was heard about Clifford’s manipulative behaviour, including how he promised to boost the careers of aspiring models and actresses in return for sexual favours.

After his convictions, he continued to protest his innocence.

The Court of Appeal was due to hear his case appealing against his sentence in the New Year.

Clifford’s lawyer, John Szepietowski, said his death meant there were a number of unresolved legal issues.

He said Clifford had been suing News International and Mirror Group Newspapers for allegedly hacking his phone.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

His daughter Louise supported him through his trial

The lawyer also said Clifford was being sued by a number of women who claimed he had sexually assaulted them.

Mr Szepietowski said his legal team would meet in the coming days to decide whether Clifford’s criminal appeal case should continue.

He said Clifford had been receiving legal aid for the appeal, after being declared bankrupt earlier this year and having to sell his Surrey home to pay his debts.

During his long career as a publicist, Clifford, who started his own company at 27, looked after press and publicity for a mixed range of clients such as Marlon Brando, Marvin Gaye, Muhammad Ali and Jade Goody.

He had helped to launch the career of The Beatles by sending press releases about their debut single, Love Me Do, when record company bosses were unsure about the group’s potential.

High-profile clients came to him because of his connections in the tabloid press – while journalists turned to Clifford to provide stories.

However, after 50 years in the showbiz industry allegations against him began to emerge.

In a Facebook post following the announcement that Clifford had died, former X Factor winner Steve Brookstein, claimed he had “orchestrated a media hate campaign” against him.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42300593

Liam Payne and Camila Cabello to host on Radio 1

Liam Payne, Demi Lovato and Camila Cabello will all present Christmas Day shows on Radio 1.

The station has announced the pop stars will host Radio 1′s Superstar Playlist programmes.

They will be taking over the station for an hour at a time, playing their favourite songs with some classic Christmas tunes thrown in as well (obviously).

It’ll be on air between 10am and 4pm.

Demi Lovato in the Radio 1 studios

Jason Derulo and The Vamps will also be getting listeners into the festive spirit with an hour show each.

Joining the musicians are some of the worlds best known actors.

Between midday and 1pm, Radio 1′s film critic Ali Plumb will call upon some of Hollywood’s finest to get involved.

Kirsten Dunst, Chris Hemsworth and Chloë Grace Moretz are just some of the names who’ll be choosing their favourite songs too.

Liam Payne says: “Looking forward to playing some of my favourite music on Radio 1 this Christmas!”

The Vamps in the Radio 1 studios

The Vamps say: “We can’t quite believe Radio 1 have asked us back to host our own on Christmas Day show for a third year but we love it.

“It’s the best day of the year so bring on the festivities and let’s have a party!”

“I’m so excited to be part of Radio 1′s Christmas Day takeover,” says Demi Lovato.

“I can’t wait to play you some of my favourite songs and sound-track the festive season!”

Jason Derulo in the Radio 1 studios

Something tells us Camila Cabello is looking forward to it as well.

She says: “It’s Christmassssssssss!!

“I am so excited to be on Radio 1 on Christmas Day playing some of my favourite music!”

Find us on Instagram at BBCNewsbeat and follow us on Snapchat, search for bbc_newsbeat

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/articles/42293626

Will Gompertz reviews Charles II: Art & Power ★★★★☆

Charles II: Art  Power

There is something hauntingly contemporary about this exhibition.

It starts with a disgruntled England, which has made a cataclysmic decision to break with an imperfect but effective Europe-entwined institution that has been the basis for the country’s social, economic, and political life.

We’d be better off without ‘em, is the feeling.

The Irish and Scots are not so sure, but the will of a group of charismatic and self-righteous metropolitan politicians prevails, and people are warily readying themselves for a collective leap into the dark.

The population is divided on the matter, split like a pair of cheap trousers.

The fact is this scepter’d isle is going to be run differently from now on.

We stand poised. It is mid December. But we are not in 2017.

We are in 1649 and, like it or not, the country is going to be a republic. The old monarchical system along with its network of tactical intercontinental marriages is over. Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army rule, OK.

Image copyright
Royal Collection Trust

Image caption

Charles I, by Edward Bower, is the first painting in the exhibition

Which brings us to the first painting in the show where we meet Charles I shortly before his execution, commissioned, apparently, by Cromwell and his chums. The incarcerated King looks wizard-like, nonchalant, and inwardly majestic.

It is a respectful seated portrait suggesting the God-fearing Parliamentarian was uncomfortable doing away with a man widely believed to be hot-wired to God.

It didn’t stop him, though. As we see in an explicitly detailed image called The Execution of Charles I. This gory print became an instant blockbuster; a bloodthirsty hit both at home and throughout an intrigued and amazed Europe.

Alongside it is a copy of a small book with a big title, Eikon Basilike: The Pourtraicture of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings.

This is important. It is basically a mix of memoire, prayer, and personal statement, probably – but not definitely – written by Charles I shortly before his public beheading at Whitehall.

What is certain is the date of its publication 10 days after the event, when it quickly became a bestseller and in-turn a cunning piece of beyond the grave Royalist propaganda.

Maybe the King wasn’t so bad after all.

Maybe he was a martyr. And look at that lovely little woodcut image of him blessing his divine son as his chosen successor. The Restoration had begun in people’s minds less than two weeks into the new Commonwealth.

The exhibition then jump cuts to 1660 and the return of the exiled Charles II.

Image copyright
ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST

Image caption

The Coronation of King Charles II in Westminster Abbey, by Wenceslaus Hollar

Backed with parliamentary cash, the soon-to-be crowned King has been out on a shopping spree to replace all the regalia and formal royal tableware Cromwell had melted down and flogged off.

It is a fine line the young man has to walk. His purchases need to be glitzy enough to impress and cement his status and legitimacy. But they can’t be as flashy as the stuff his French cousin Louis XIV buys because: a) it might go down badly with the public and cost him his head, and b) he can’t afford it.

He opts for silver gilt, which nearly 360 years later still looks magnificent. The craftsmanship and quality of the plates, candlesticks, chalices, and salts are impressive. As is an exquisitely embroidered bible given to the newly restored King, signalling a more liberal, post-Cromwellian, era.

The brakes are off. Theatres are re-opened.

Image copyright
Royal Collection Trust

Image caption

Charles II, painted by John Michael Wright, is a powerful image of the monarchy restored

Charles II takes on a coterie of lovers (including the saucily depicted actress Nell Gwyn), and poses for a huge portrait by John Michael Wright.

What the painting lacks in terms of technique – which is quite a lot – it more than makes up for with size and visual impact. It is designed to establish the new King as the top man. We see him sitting in an elevated position, wearing the crown of state, and sporting his Order of the Garter costume under Parliament robes. He is holding his newly acquired orb and sceptre.

The idea is to hark back to Tudor and Elizabethan styles to imply stability through continuity. Frankly, he looks ridiculous; like an aging rock-star who has been allowed to rummage around in the royal dressing up box.

Image copyright
Royal Collection Trust

Image caption

Leonardo da Vinci’s Oak and dyer’s greenweed, from circa 1505-10

It sums up what quickly becomes apparent in this show, which is Charles II was not blessed with the same curatorial eye as his late father. OK he acquired some wonderful drawings by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Holbein – some of which are on display.

But when it came to the task of retrieving the great paintings Cromwell sold off, or commissioning new pictures, he comes up short.

He did make a few decent purchases.

Image copyright
Royal Collection Trust

Image caption

The Massacre of the Innocents by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

You’ll see a very good Pieter Bruegel the Elder painting called The Massacre of the Innocents. Although, it is slightly odd in so much as there are no innocents being massacred.

There were originally, but when the Habsburg Emperor, Rudolf II, owned the painting he recognised the occupying troops as his own (specifically depicted as such by Bruegel, who was making a political point) and had all the dead babies painted out. The upshot is a scene in which women are bent over, crying their eyes out over loaves of bread and various poultry.

If you’re after an exhibition stuffed to its royal gunnels with painterly masterpieces, the chances are you’ll be underwhelmed by Charles II: Art Power and should wait until January when the Royal Academy will do what he didn’t and reunite much of his father’s collection.

If, however, you are in the market for a richly told, thought-provoking history lesson that feels surprisingly relevant in today’s Brexit Britain, with the added bonus that its central protagonist looks like Brian May from Queen, then you might consider the £11 ticket price as money well spent.

Charles II: Art and Power is at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42231007

Has original music saved The X Factor?

Rak-SuImage copyright
ITV

Image caption

Rak-Su have gone to number two in the chart with their self-penned winners’ single

The X Factor was a little different this year. OK, very different.

There was no deadlock, the live shows were revamped and cut in number, there were far fewer sob stories and each week Dermot revealed which act had come top of the public vote as well as bottom.

But perhaps the most interesting change was contestants being encouraged to perform their own songs at the live shows, rather than just covers.

It resulted in an original song (Dimelo by Rak-Su) being chosen as this year’s winners’ single – a gamble which seemed to pay off this weekend as it entered the chart at number two, beaten only by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s Perfect.

It gives Rak-Su’s single a higher chart placing than the last two winners’ songs – When Christmas Comes Around by Matt Terry and Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young.

“Anyone tuning in this year expecting the old X Factor would have had a short, sharp shock,” says Frances Taylor, TV critic for the Radio Times.

“We’ve seen a change in what viewers want from reality TV in recent years, so they moved away from that slightly dated karaoke, panto-style programme that it has been for a long time.

Image copyright
ITV

Image caption

The judging panel was one thing that did remain the same this year

“They wanted to get away from Wagner, Jedward, Rylan, Simon being horrible, booing, and they did that by telling contestants they could play their own instruments and write their own songs.

“They’re trying to create genuine stars that way, rather than getting people to do more cover versions that might get a Christmas number one but not give them much chance of having a long career.”

While the show has occasionally allowed contestants like Lucy Spraggan to audition with their own songs in previous seasons, this year’s acts were actively encouraged to take their original material all the way to the live shows.

The public responded extremely well. Interestingly, the two acts who took most advantage of the rule change – Grace Davies and Rak-Su – were the two who made it to last Sunday’s final.

“Original acts seem to be the ones that were winning this year,” Naughty Boy (who features on Dimelo) told BBC 5 live after the final aired.

“I actually spoke to [Simon Cowell] about this – I was like, ‘You know what the public are enjoying, just give them that.’”

Skip Youtube post by The X Factor UK

End of Youtube post by The X Factor UK


Youtube post by The X Factor UK: Rak-Su are back with original track Dimelo | Live Shows | The X Factor 2017Image Copyright The X Factor UK
The X Factor UK

Viewers may be enjoying it, but the audience figures continue to decline year-on-year.

This year’s final was watched by an average of 5.2 million people. That figure will go up when catch-up figures come through, but it’s safe to say the total number of viewers this year will be down on the 17 million who watched Matt Cardle win in 2010.

Nonetheless, the series continues to attract a high proportion of younger viewers, who may have been enticed by the show’s makeover and focus on authenticity.

Image caption

Rak-Su follow in the footsteps of 2011 winners Little Mix, who also released a Reggaeton song this year

“Original music makes the show more credible,” says writer and broadcaster Edward Adoo, who interviewed Rak-Su on his BBC Three Counties show last year when the band were featured on BBC Introducing.

“For real musicians out there, it’s a sigh of relief to think, ‘Wow, there is a programme out there that will allow our songwriting skills to be showcased’. Before, that wasn’t possible.

“The producers and Simon Cowell have mixed things up and said, ‘OK, people are not liking what we’re doing, but this will enable artists to think they can reach out to The X Factor and get some kind of recognition’.

“And the artists won’t be known as some kind of cast-offs or karaoke kids or whatever, they’ll be respected.”

Skip Twitter post by @JamesArthur23

Abu Dhabi authorities revealed as buyers of $450m ‘Leonardo painting’

Media captionThe painting has been cleaned and restored from the image on the left to the one on the right

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism has confirmed that it bought the $450m Salvator Mundi painting for the state’s new Louvre gallery.

The 500-year-old painting of Christ is believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

There had been media reports that it had been bought by a Saudi prince.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum said it was “looking forward to displaying” the painting, which recently fetched the record price at auction in New York.

Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World)’s $450m (£341m) price made it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

Media captionLouvre Abu Dhabi: Three things to know

At the time of the sale in November, the buyer was unidentified and was involved in a bidding contest, via telephone, that lasted nearly 20 minutes.

The New York Times reported on 6 December that the buyer had been Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, citing documents the newspaper had reviewed.

Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence.

Salvator Mundi, believed to have been painted sometime after 1505, was the only work thought to have been in private hands.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum opened earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates. It cost £1bn to build and has been under construction for eight years.

It has a permanent collection of 600 artworks, with another 300 loaned from France. The museum is paying Paris hundreds of millions of dollars for this as well as for the use of the Louvre name and managerial advice.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42281101

Kevin Spacey ‘groped Norwegian king’s son-in-law’

Princess Martha Louise and Ari BehnImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Ari Behn was married to Princess Martha Louise from 2002-16

The King of Norway’s former son-in-law has accused Kevin Spacey of groping him after a Nobel Peace Prize concert.

Ari Behn told radio station P4 that it happened after the actor had hosted the event in 2007.

“I am a generous person, but this was a bit more than I had in mind,” said Behn, who was married to King Harald’s daughter Martha Louise until last year.

Spacey has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by a string of men and has been written out of House of Cards.

A spokesman for Spacey said last month that he was “taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment” in the wake of the allegations.

  • House of Cards will ‘have biggest audience’ yet
  • Ridley Scott discusses replacing Spacey
  • Old Vic reveals 20 Spacey allegations

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Kevin Spacey, pictured before the Nobel Peace Prize concert in 2007

Recalling the alleged incident, Behn said: “We had a great talk, he sat right beside me.

“After five minutes he said, ‘hey, let’s go out and have a cigarette’. Then he puts his hand under the table and grabs me by the balls.”

Behn said he put Spacey off by telling him: “Er, maybe later.”

He added: “My hair was dark at the time, I was 10 years younger and right up his alley.”

Last month, the Old Vic theatre in London said it had received 20 personal testimonies of alleged inappropriate behaviour by Spacey while he was artistic director there.

He has faced other allegations too, with the claims leaving his career in ruins.

He has been removed from the sixth season of House of Cards, which will instead focus on his on-screen wife, played by Robin Wright.

Spacey has also been replaced by Christopher Plummer in the new Ridley Scott film All the Money in the World.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42284021

Ed Sheeran set for Christmas number one

Ed Sheeran and BeyonceImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Ed Sheeran and Beyonce released a new version of Perfect last week

Ed Sheeran says he has a “trick up his sleeve” to boost his chances of getting the UK Christmas number one single.

The star has put out a new version of his ballad Perfect, with vocals from Beyonce, sending it straight to the top of the charts on Friday.

Asked if he wanted to stay there for Christmas, the 26-year-old replied: “I’d be lying if I said no.

“I do have one more trick up my sleeve. It’s not like a Beyonce trick, but it’s quite a cool trick.”

Without giving too many details away, the singer hinted he’d made a third version of the song, with a different duet partner.

Media captionEd talks to MistaJam about being at the top of the chart. Again.

“This next one, no-one’s expecting,” he told BBC Radio 1′s Chart Show. “It’s more for my dad’s generation. It’ll be out in a week. You’ll see then.”

With streaming numbers in his favour, Sheeran is practically locked in for the coveted Christmas number one slot.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes have him as the 8/11 favourite, far ahead of the other contenders.

“At this moment we can’t really see anyone knocking Ed off the Christmas top spot,” Ladbrokes spokesperson Alix Apati said.

“Anyone else would have to do something pretty special between now and Christmas to stand a chance of getting that festive top spot.”

The closest competition is expected to come from Wham!’s Last Christmas, which fans are hoping to send to number one in tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day last year.

Skip Youtube post by Ed Sheeran

End of Youtube post by Ed Sheeran


Youtube post by Ed Sheeran: Ed Sheeran - Perfect Duet (with Beyonc) [Official Audio]Image Copyright Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran

A regular feature on Christmas playlists, the song has never been Christmas number one. It was kept off the top spot by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? when it was first released in 1984.

Other contenders for this year’s festive chart include X Factor winners Rak-Su, whose debut single Dimelo entered the top 40 at number two in this week’s countdown.

And Mariah Carey’s festive classic All I Want For Christmas Is You jumped from 22 to number five in the new chart, but it seems unlikely to reach the summit.

Skip Youtube post by WhamVEVO

End of Youtube post by WhamVEVO


Youtube post by WhamVEVO: Wham! - Last Christmas (Official Video)Image Copyright WhamVEVO
WhamVEVO

Meanwhile, in the album charts, Sam Smith returned to the number one slot this week, closely followed by Sheeran’s ÷ and Together Again from tenors Michael Ball and Alfie Boe.

U2 only just squeaked into the top five with their latest album, Songs Of Experience, while there were new entries lower down the chart for Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics, which features orchestral versions of vintage dance hits, and the Rolling Stones’ compilation of early BBC sessions, titled On Air.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42283790

Ed Sheeran picks up MBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace

Ed Sheeran MBEImage copyright
PA

Image caption

Ed Sheeran said he was thinking of his grandfather, who would have been “pretty proud”

Ed Sheeran has picked up his MBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace – and said he would be up for performing at the forthcoming royal wedding.

The pop star was awarded his gong for services to music and charity.

He was the most-streamed artist of 2017 and has supported various good causes.

He said he hadn’t been asked to perform at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. But asked by reporters whether he would do so if invited, he replied with a grin: “Yeah, why not.”

The singer said the Prince of Wales was impressed by the fact that he is playing a gig in New York on Friday, one day after the investiture ceremony.

Image copyright
PA

Image copyright
PA

“He was asking me if I was still selling lots of records and I told him I’ve got a concert in New York tomorrow, and he was quite surprised I was flying after this,” Sheeran said.

He also said he was thinking of his grandfather Bill.

“My grandfather was a massive royalist,” he said. “He had all the commemorative plates and stuff, and he died on this day four years ago, so it’s actually quite a nice full circle thing, I guess he’d be pretty proud.”

Asked about the secret of his success, Sheeran played down his achievements, saying: “I think it’s persistence.

“I don’t have a vast amount of talent compared to other people, I think talent is like 30% of it and persistence, drive and self belief are the other ones, which I guess are all the same thing.”

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42267515