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Quick Takes: Alcohol killed Amy Winehouse

October 27, 2011

Amy Winehouse drank herself to death.

The soul diva who had Grammy-winning songs and fans around the world died with empty vodka bottles in her room and lethal amounts of alcohol in her blood — more than five times the British drunk driving limit, a coroner ruled Wednesday.

Coroner Suzanne Greenaway gave a verdict of "death by misadventure," saying the singer died of accidental alcohol poisoning when she resumed drinking after weeks of abstinence.

The 27-year-old singer, who had fought a very public battle with drug and alcohol problems for years, was found dead in bed July 23 at her London home.

—Associated Press

Stolen Picassos found in Serbia

Two Picasso paintings owned by a German museum and stolen from a Swiss exhibition have been found in Belgrade, Serbia's interior minister said Wednesday.

Ivica Dacic provided no information on the exact location of the paintings or possible suspects in the theft.

The works — "Tete de Cheval" (Head of Horse) from 1962 and "Verre et Pichet" (Glass and Pitcher) from 1944 — were stolen from an exhibition in the small Swiss town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich, in February 2008. They belong to the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.

—Associated Press

'Night Watch' seen in new light

Rembrandt's "Night Watch" may need a different nickname after the painting was put under new lighting on Wednesday that makes it look like a day scene.

The change at the national Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is startling, as characters once barely visible or relegated to the background now stand out in vivid color.

The 1642 painting was commissioned for one of Amsterdam's citizen militias and is officially titled "The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch," the two most prominent and central of 34 figures depicted on the large canvas.

Museum director Wim Pijbes said Wednesday the painting — widely considered Rembrandt's greatest masterpiece for its composition, dynamic motion, and use of light, color and shadow — may in fact only have acquired the "Night Watch" title because of a dark varnish that was removed decades ago.

The new LED lighting system custom designed for the work by lighting giant Philips mimics daylight, helping return the work closer to its original appearance and bringing out, for instance, greenish stone arches in the background.

—Associated Press

For Adele, 13 is a lucky number

British singer Adele regained the top spot on the Billboard Top 200 album chart Wednesday, marking her 13th week at No. 1 with "21" and making it the first album since the "Titanic" film soundtrack to claim as many weeks atop the chart.

"21" sold 106,000 copies to pass the 4 million sales mark last week, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan. It is the biggest selling album of 2011 so far, with Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" far behind with 1.9 million sales.

Adele plans to follow up "21" with a live CD and DVD release on Nov. 29 that was taped at a performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, according to a posting on her website.

—Reuters

Millepied exiting N.Y. City Ballet

Benjamin Millepied — the renowned ballet dancer who is perhaps even better known as the father of actress Natalie Portman's baby — is stepping down from his position as a principal at New York City Ballet, the company announced Wednesday.

Millepied, 34, who hails from France, was with the company for 16 years.

As a choreographer, Millepied has worked on productions at City Ballet as well as American Ballet Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and more.

He served as choreographer for the 2010 Darren Aronofsky movie "Black Swan," where he met Portman. Their son was born earlier this year.

One of Millepied's future jobs as choreographer will be on the musical "Hands on a Hardbody," which will debut at the La Jolla Playhouse in April.

—David Ng

Wal-Mart backs D.C. museum

Wal-Mart has donated $5 million to help build the Smithsonian Institution's planned National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year for a $500-million museum on a five-acre site near the Washington Monument. The project is on track to open in fall 2015, Museum Director Lonnie Bunch said.

The museum already is building its collection. It recently acquired a biplane trainer flown by the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. It recently went on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Virginia annex until the black history museum is built.

—Associated Press

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