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Old Masters fetch record prices

December 09, 2009

Record Old Masters sales

A portrait by Rembrandt sold Tuesday for $32.9 million at Christie's International in London, a record for the artist at auction. Less than an hour later, a Raphael drawing fetched $47.5 million, the most paid for an Old Master drawing at a public sale.

"Prices at auction are very strong because there isn't much out there," Johnny van Haeften, a London-based dealer, said in an interview. "People don't want to sell at the moment. They're saying, 'If I let a painting go, where do I put the money? I'd rather keep it in a work of art.' "

Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, was the seller of Rembrandt's 1658 "Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo." The black-chalk study for the head of a muse in Raphael's 1510-11 Vatican fresco "Parnassus" had been entered by the heirs of a British collector, Norman Colville. Neither buyer was identified.

-- bloomberg news Barker settles crash lawsuit

Former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker has settled his lawsuit against several companies over a plane crash in South Carolina last year that killed four people, attorneys said Tuesday.

Barker was one of two survivors of the Sept. 19, 2008, crash that killed two pilots and two of his friends. The other survivor, celebrity disc jockey Adam Goldstein, known as DJ AM, has since died of an accidental drug overdose.

The terms of the settlement were confidential, said William L. Robinson, an attorney representing some of the companies sued by Barker, including Learjet, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the plane's owners and contractors.

-- associated press 'GMA' shuffle in the works

The expected announcement by ABC this week that "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos will succeed Diane Sawyer as the co-anchor of "Good Morning America" is triggering some other changes on the program.

According to a source familiar with the situation, correspondent Juju Chang has been offered the position of news anchor on the morning show. She would replace Chris Cuomo, who was in the running to replace Sawyer but is not expected to remain on the show when Stephanopoulos arrives.

ABC executives hope to keep Cuomo at the network, however, and are in "very active discussions" with him about co-anchoring the newsmagazine "20/20" and taking an expanded reporting role across the news division, the source said.

-- Matea Gold Gumbel reveals cancer surgery

Bryant Gumbel shocked a television audience Tuesday with the news that he's recovering from cancer surgery and treatment.

The former "Today" show anchor, 61, said a malignant tumor and part of his lung were removed two months ago. He revealed his condition to Kelly Ripa while subbing for Regis Philbin on Tuesday's edition of "Live With Regis and Kelly." (Philbin recently had hip replacement surgery.)

"It's nothing to hide from," Gumbel said.

The tumor was not in Gumbel's lung but next to it, said Sean Cassidy, a friend of Gumbel's and president of DKC, a New York public relations firm. Gumbel is not a smoker, he said.

Gumbel was host of "Today" for 15 years, ending in 1997, then spent several years at CBS. He now hosts "Real Sports," an Emmy-winning monthly magazine on HBO that takes a newsy look at sports issues.

-- associated press Daly adds radio gig to duties

Carson Daly, a DJ at rock station KROQ-FM (106.7) from 1996 to 1998 before moving to television as the host of MTV's "Total Request Live" and then NBC's "Last Call With Carson Daly," is returning to his roots.

Starting Jan. 4, Daly will be the host of a weekday 6-10 a.m. show on Top 40 station KAMP-FM (97.1), where his program director will be Kevin Weatherly, the same executive who hired him for the KROQ job 13 years ago.

Daly will continue to host his NBC show, which airs weeknights at 1:35 a.m.

-- Lee Margulies Publisher steps down at Crown

Jenny Frost, president and publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, which published Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope," stepped down Tuesday.

Crown's parent company, Random House Inc., announced Frost's departure and said it was the result of a "reorganization" of Crown. Frost, 53, will be replaced by Maya Mavjee, currently executive vice president of Random House of Canada Ltd.

-- associated press

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