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Artist sells rabbit sculpture for Sh9.2 billion : The Standard

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A security guard stands next to Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit”, a stainless steel casting of an inflatable rabbit that sold at auction for $91.1 million (Sh9.2b) [AFP].

A sculpture by American artist Jeff Koons sold on Wednesday for $91.1 million (Sh9.2b) at an auction organized by Christie’s in New York — a record price for a living artist.

“Rabbit”, a stainless steel casting of an inflatable rabbit, was the star of the auction house’s spring sale and overtook the previous record set by British painter David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)”, which sold last November at Christie’s for $90.3 million (Sh9.1b).
It was a return to the top for Koons, 64, whose “Balloon Dog (Orange)” for five years held the record for highest price reached at auction for a living artist after its 2013 sale for $58.4 million (Sh5.9b).
The selling price of “Rabbit” was only $80 million (Sh8b), but once commissions and fees were added, the final total rose to $91.075 million (Sh9.204b).
In an unusual turn for an art auction at this price range, the buyer of “Rabbit” was actually in the room during the sale.
Wednesday’s milestone came two years after Christie’s in New York set the record for most expensive work of art known to have been sold with the sale of Leonardo de Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” for $450 million (Sh45b).
Created by Koons in 1986, “Rabbit” is among the best-known works by the artist, who built a reputation for challenging art world conventions.
He has exhibited his larger-than-life creations worldwide, including a 2008 showing in France’s historic Chateau of Versailles that so jarred French traditionalists a small group of them protested outside the event, demanding Koons’s works be sent to “Disneyland”.
At 41 inches (1.04 meters) in height, “Rabbit” was auctioned from the collection of deceased publishing mogul S.I. Newhouse.
Before his death in 2017, his empire included Conde Nast, which published magazines like Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.
Alexander Rotter, chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, told AFP after the auction “Rabbit” is “the most important piece by Jeff Koons and I want to go even a step further and say the most important sculpture of second half of the 20th century.”
“It’s the end of sculpture. It’s the anti-David as I call it,” he said, referring to Michelangelo’s masterpiece. “You can’t go any further away from David still being figurative and a traditional sculpture.”
The sale was a new triumph for the controversial artist, who since his emergence in the 1980s has been the subject of endless conversation over his work’s commercial and artistic value.
He’s raised eyebrows throughout his career, particularly with paintings and sculptures depicting him having sex with Italian film star Cicciolina, to whom he was married between 1991 and 1994.
Arriving in New York in 1976, Koon has built up a studio that at its height in 2015 employed more than 100 artisans tasked with meeting his exacting standards.

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Standard, Safaricom in pact to sell digital newspapers: The Standard

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The Sh20 price per newspaper includes data usage, meaning a customer’s data bundle will not be consumed when reading through each paper.


Safaricom has partnered with The Standard Group and other media houses in a deal that will see newspapers made available to smartphone users at Sh20 per issue.
The amount will be deducted from the customer’s airtime, enabling them to buy and read newspapers on the go for seven days. “We are pleased to be part of this initiative, which is a demonstration of our commitment to fuse journalistic creativity with digital innovation in a collaborative venture that we hope will bring value to our esteemed readers and give customers easy access to our newspapers during the pandemic period,” said The Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu.
The Sh20 price per newspaper includes data usage, meaning a customer’s data bundle will not be consumed when reading through each paper.

SEE ALSO: Safaricom closes TRM shop after staff catches Covid-19

Mobile phone
No registration or signup will be necessary, neither will customers be requested to download and in-stall any application.
“The world is quickly evolving to be digitally-led and we see our customers increasingly seeking ways in which they can achieve their goals by tapping into the convenience of their smartphone,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa. “We are glad to partner with media houses to digitise the newspaper channel and make them available on the mobile phone.”
The service can be accessed by visiting Safaricom.com and selecting the “Discover” option followed by “Newspapers.”
Nation Media Group Chief Executive Stephen Gitagama said the firm will continue to explore different solutions to keep its readers informed.

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SEE ALSO: Sanda Ojiambo becomes first African at the helm of UN agency

Customers can also dial *550# to purchase the newspapers. The Standard Group newspapers include The Standard, Saturday Standard, Sunday Standard and The Nairobian.

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More workers lose jobs as corona sinks hotels: The Standard

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However, others such as PrideInn Hotels say they are planning to reopen this month.


Serena Hotels has sent its entire staff on unpaid leave starting this month as effects of Covid-19 pandemic continue to sink the hospitality industry.
Serena joins a growing list of premier hotels hard hit by the deadly virus with their mainstay –tourism, events and conferences – having dried up owing to restrictions in travel and other measures meant to curb the spread of the virus.
Serena Hotels Managing Director Mahmud Janmohamed described the business as being in a “desperate situation” adding that all indications were “clear” that their units would remain shut this month.

SEE ALSO: Koffi back 4 years after he was kicked out of Kenya

“All staff will from 1st June 2020 take unpaid leave until further notice. However, for the month of June 2020, Sh10,000 only, less National Social Security Fund and the National Health Insurance Fund deductions,” said Janmohamed in a memo to staff.
“It is our sincere hope that you understand the desperate situation that we are all in and support this decision.”
Essential staff
Serena Hotels was last month forced to shut down about 10 of its lodges and camps in Kenya and Tanzania hoping to reopen on June 15, 2020.
Janmohamed said essential staff required to be on duty on a regular basis will be paid 30 per cent of their salary for the month of June.
He added that staff needed on a rotational basis to keep the properties serviced would only be paid for the days worked.
All major hotels in Kenya have temporarily closed since March following suspension of flights and restrictions imposed by the government.
Last week, owners of the iconic Fairmont Norfolk announced they were shutting indefinitely and would fire all employees as the pandemic bites.
The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts said they are going to close Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
Other top hotels that have halted operations owing to the Covid-19 pandemic include Nairobi’s Tribe Hotel, Ole Sereni and DusitD2.
However, others such as PrideInn Hotels say they are planning to reopen this month.
Those that reopen, however, have to institute strict operating procedures, including social distancing and frequently sanitising premises to ensure safety.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted on plans to re-open the economy and is expected to make a key announcement to that effect this Saturday after the current dawn to dusk curfew expires.
He announced a Sh53.7 billion stimulus package meant to cushion the country from the economic rampage caused by Covid-19. Part of the money will go towards cushioning the tourism industry and will be used to provide soft loans to hotels.

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SMEs receive fresh guarantees to ease repayment of loans

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SMEs receive fresh guarantees to ease repayment of loans

Akinwumi Adesina
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The African Guarantee Fund (AGF), a non-bank financial institution jointly owned by the Danish and Spanish governments as well as the African Development Bank (AfDB), is to guarantee small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to have their loans with commercial banks restructured.

The AGF Covid-19 Guarantee facility will allow SMEs to pay less over a given period than what they had been paying and therefore cope better in the face of the Covid-19.

“African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF) has announced its Covid-19 response aimed at reducing the uncertainties facing financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“AGF’s Covid-19 response is built on the imperative need for commercial solutions over and above the regulatory efforts already provided by the various central banks and governments in the continent,” said the AGF in a statement.

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“The African Guarantee Fund’s response sets the platform for economic stabilisation, followed by an economic revival through AGF’s newly developed Covid-19 Guarantee Facility that will, firstly, provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non-performing because of Covid-19 and, secondly, provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the aim of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs’ perceived risk.”

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The AGF, however, did not reveal the amount set aside for guaranteeing the SMEs nor did it give any criteria to be used in determining which entities qualify.

Kenyan banks have been restructuring loans held by their clients in recent months, but so far the amount whose terms have been so changed is still less than Sh200 billion out of an industry loan portfolio of over Sh2 trillion.

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