Post-it note art war engulfs ad agencies on New York City street

NEW YORK A conversation conducted using sticky Post-it notes on the windows of two offices in Lower Manhattan has delighted passersby and drawn a number of neighboring advertising agencies to join what is now a highly contested art battle. It all began when employees at one firm, Havas Media, replied to an anonymous "HI" message that was left across from its office building on Canal Street. There are now hundreds of colorful notes decorating windows in the area."It's kind of just ballooned organically and become something that no one's quite controlling and you don't know where it's going next," said Greg James, chief strategy development officer for Havas Media, a unit of French advertising and communications group Havas SA.After the Havas team replied with its own "SUP," the fight began. Others in the building took part, and agencies across the street fired back with creative window art featuring characters from HBO's "Game of Thrones," the Snapchat logo, popular song lyrics and cartoons from the Angry Birds mobile app.More than a week after it started, the Post-it art war now involves other local advertising agencies including Horizon Media, Biolumina, Harrison and Star, Getty Images and Cake Group, which is part of the Havas network. And it has spread to Havas offices as far afield as London, Toronto and Dublin. Using the hashtags #postitwar and #canalnotes, many social media users, agency employees and even clients are taking to Twitter and Instagram to share their favorite portraits.James said Havas is discussing how the firm could make the impromptu contest more meaningful or tie it somehow to a greater cause. "We don't want to control it too much because I think what's nice is that it's so fluid and that everybody owns it individually or in little teams," he said.Across the street at Horizon Media, some employees have been using client brands to inspire their window portraits.Molly Reich, a digital strategist for Horizon Media, said she is excited that the competition is taking off, despite a temporary delay caused by building supervisors. "Our landlord wouldn't allow us to participate," said Reich, whose window includes a Post-it note depiction of the cartoon characters featured on GoGo sqeeZ applesauce, a Horizon Media client."But then someone from offices and hospitality talked to them and they finally agreed," she said. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Matthew Lewis)

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Rembrandt painting found in New Jersey basement now in museum

NEW YORK A painting languishing in a New Jersey basement that turned out to be one of Dutch master Rembrandt's earliest works goes on display on Wednesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California as a key part of an exhibit on the 17th century artist."The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell)" depicts two men wafting a rag under the nose of a third man who is swooning and is dated 1624, the museum said in a press release.The 8-1/2-by-7-inch (22-by-18-cm) work is among a series of five paintings on the senses that Rembrandt created as a teenager, and will be displayed with two others - hearing and touch - from Wednesday until Aug. 28, when the exhibit will travel internationally.The painting's slog from a New Jersey basement to the upper echelons of the art world began in July when adult children cleaning out their family home in Essex County after their parents died contacted John Nye, owner of Nye and Co auction house in Bloomfield, New Jersey. "The picture was remarkably unremarkable," Nye said, recalling the oil painting was flaking. "It looked like a dark, discolored portrait of three people, one of whom is passed out." When the painting went up for auction in September, Nye estimated it would fetch up to $800, having spent two weeks on display on the auction house wall and in its online catalog. That is where sharp-eyed art aficionados from three different European countries spotted it, ultimately leading to a Paris art dealer's winning bid of $870,000, or about $1.1 million including the typical added sale premium, Nye said."I was stunned," Nye said in a phone interview. Soon the Paris dealer was in contact with New York financier Thomas Kaplan, who heads the investment firm Electrum Group, and is founder of the Leiden Collection, one of the world's largest private collections of Dutch Golden Age art. Restoration of the piece confirmed suspicions - it revealed the initials RHF, for Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn fecit."Basically, he put his name down and 'fecit' means 'made this,'" said Nye. Rembrandt's painting of the fourth sense - sight - is in a museum in the Netherlands but the whereabouts of the fifth sense - taste - remains unknown. "If someone sees an allegorical painting of three fancifully dressed people eating, call me and I'll come check it out," Nye said. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Officials encouraged by how much of Canada city spared by wildfire

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta Canadian officials who got their first glimpse on Monday of the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray since a wildfire erupted said they were encouraged by how much of it escaped destruction, estimating almost 90 percent of its buildings were saved.But a tour of the fire-ravaged city also revealed scenes of utter devastation, with blocks of homes reduced to blackened foundations, front steps and metal barbecues. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said 2,400 structures had burned within the city while almost 25,000 were saved.The fire that has ravaged some 204,000 hectares (504,000 acres) of the western Canadian province moved far enough from the evacuated town of 88,000 people to allow an official delegation led by the Notley to visit."We were really encouraged today to see the extent of residential communities that were saved," Notley said. "That of course doesn't mean there aren't going to be some really heartbreaking images for some people to see when they come back."Reporters on the tour viewed the charred rubble of the community's Beacon Hill neighborhood, where some 80 percent of the homes had been burned to the ground and the wreckage of blackened and melted cars remained on roads.Notley said it was not safe for residents to enter the city unescorted, with parts still smoldering and large areas without power, water and gas. She said repair crews will have weeks of work ahead of them.Fire Chief Darby Allen told reporters that 85 percent of the buildings in Fort McMurray had survived the blaze, offering a slightly lower estimate than Notley. All schools except one that had been under construction were intact. Notley credited the efforts of firefighters who battled the out-of-control blaze for days.The assessment by officials came a few hours after insurance experts revised sharply downward their estimates of the cost of damage from the blaze, which began on May 1. Canada's largest property and casualty insurer Intact Financial Corp expects to suffer losses ranging from C$130 million to C$160 million ($100 million-$123 million) from the wildfire. Intact used satellite imagery and geocoding technology to see if buildings were a total loss or partially destroyed.Analysts said Intact's forecast implied overall industry losses of between C$1 billion C$1.1 billion, much less than one earlier forecast of C$9 billion.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed a multi-year commitment by the national government to rebuild Fort McMurray but gave no details.Fire officials said the blaze was still large, growing and dangerous. But they noted cooler weather had slowed the fire's spread and would help in the coming days. High temperatures and winds accelerated the blaze last week. RAIN NEEDED TO TAME 'BEAST'The cool weather was expected to linger through Thursday, according to Environment Canada. Still, much of Alberta is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring."This beast is so big, we need rain to fix it," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.Government weather forecasts show the first possibility of rain on Wednesday with a 30 percent chance. Notley said she expected to be able to provide a schedule within two weeks for the return of residents. Thousands of evacuees are camped in nearby towns.Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of its crude output, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate.In one encouraging sign for industry, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it restarted production at a reduced rate at its Albian oil sands mining operation in Alberta, and it plans to fly staff in and out.But Statoil ASA said it will suspend all production at its Leismer oil sands project in northern Alberta until midstream terminals needed to transport crude oil via pipeline reopen.And Imperial Oil said it completed a controlled shutdown of its Kearl oil sands mining project due to uncertainties associated with logistics.Other shutdowns include Nexen Energy's Long Lake facility, Suncor Energy's base plant operations, a Syncrude project and Conoco Phillips' Surmont project.Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two teenagers died in a car crash during the evacuation. (With additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Nia Williams in Calgary and Matt Schuffman, Ethan Lou and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)

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Japanese court rules vagina figurines 'pop art', not obscenity

TOKYO A Japanese court found on Monday an artist not guilty of obscenity for displaying figurines modeled on her vagina, signaling a step towards freedom of expression, although the court fined her for distributing digital data of her genitals.The Tokyo court dismissed prosecutors' charge that Megumi Igarashi, who works under the name "Rokudenashiko" or "good-for-nothing girl", had displayed obscene objects, saying her figurines - decorated with fake fur and glitter - could be considered "pop art"."This verdict is extremely rare,” said Takashi Yamaguchi, one of her lawyers, adding that it had "high historic value".Igarashi said she was "20-percent happy" that the court acknowledged her figurines as art, but stressed she was "completely innocent". The court found Igarashi guilty for distributing digital data of indecent material and fined her 400,000 yen ($3,700). Prosecutors had sought a fine of more than $7,400."I am of course indignant. I will appeal and continue to fight in court," she told a news conference, where she displayed several pink vagina figurines that prosecutors had argued were obscene.Igarashi was arrested and briefly jailed in 2014 after building a kayak and making figurines modeled on her vagina, and sending 3D printer data of her scanned genitalia, used to make the boat, to a number of donors who helped fund the project. Igarashi's arrest and detention triggered a debate about women's rights and artistic freedom in Japan. More than 1,000 people tweeted about the verdict soon after it was announced, many of them expressing anger and questioning the court's logic. "What? How about products resembling male or female genitalia displayed at adult sex shops? Are they permissible?" questioned one Twitter user in response to the verdict. Although Japan has an extensive pornography industry, it is regulated by a section of the criminal code that dates back to 1907. Video pornography in Japan has often used digital mosaics to obscure genitalia in sex scenes to avoid obscenity charges.While depictions of female genitalia remain largely taboo, representations of male genitalia are shown at shrines and at some festivals, where giant phalluses are paraded openly through the streets as symbols of fertility and sexual health. (Additional reporting by Teppei Kasai; Editing by Linda Sieg, Robert Birsel)

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Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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