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Dutch report Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2010-04-25 09:04:22
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Francis Bacon heirs battle Van Gogh foundation

In life, Francis Bacon regarded Van Gogh as a kindred spirit and would constantly pay tribute to the genius of the Dutch master. He quoted his letters as inspiration saying it was the artist's job to create "lies that are truer than the literal truth". But the late Irish painter's eagerness to do all he could to celebrate his hero has left behind a bitter dispute between the estates of the two men.

The heirs of Francis Bacon and The Vincent Van Gogh Foundation are embroiled in a legal battle for a £13 million Bacon painting that both claim is theirs. A court will rule today on whether Homage to Van Gogh, Arles, painted in 1985, should be handed back to the Bacon estate or remain in Arles, in south-western France, where the Dutch master spent two years. The row centres on a claim that Bacon promised the work to the foundation a few years before his death in 1992. He painted the disputed work at the behest of Yolande Clergue, a curator who wanted to create a foundation to exhibit works inspired by Van Gogh for the 100th anniversary of his stay in Arles.

The tableau was based on Van Gogh's 1888 self-portrait, The Painter On The Road To Tarascon, showing the artist in straw hat, carrying his easel and paints, and casting an ominous shadow. Bacon never saw Van Gogh's original – destroyed when Dresden was firebombed in 1945 – and had to make do with photographs of the "haunting' work, from which he produced as series of paintings. His 1985 work shows the painter from waist down, blending into his shadow. Bacon's estate was left to his partner John Edwards when he died in 2003; it was handed over to a four-person trust based on the Channel island of Jersey. Bacon's paintings fetch astronomical sums, with his nightmarish Triptych, 1976, sold to Roman Abramovich in 2008 for £56 million – a record for an auctioned work of contemporary art at the time.  His "heirs" are now demanding the Van Gogh Foundation hand over the painting, which they argue has merely been on a long-term loan.


Online sex shop a hit with Muslims

An online sex shop for Muslims has been launched in the Netherlands to tap into a demand for erotica that does not offend Sharia law. "We had about 70,000 hits in the first four days," Abdelaziz Aouragh, the founder of El Asira, said. The site went online last week and claims to be the world's first erotic web shop for Muslims. The 29-year-old Dutch national said it targets married Muslim couples as an alternative to sites "that focus on pornography and the extravagant side of erotica" - things forbidden in Islam.

The home page of El Asira, which means "Society" in Arabic, is a sober black and grey street with a line down the centre, inviting women to enter on the left and men on the right. Once inside, clients can browse in Dutch, Arabic or English through more than a dozen products, mainly massage oils, lubricants and tablets that claim to act as aphrodisiacs. All ingredients are halal, or "permissible under Islam", said Mr Aouragh, and conspicuously absent is any type of pornography.

"Most of the other products out there have pictures of naked people or foul language -- it was very difficult to find ones that I could use in my business," he said. Instead, the website shows only photos of boxes, tablets, tubes and bottles - mainly in pink or blue with the brand's logo, a black flame. "We have chosen a respectful approach," it says, proclaiming itself "a novelty in the Islamic world". Muslim clerics like Dutch Imam Abdul Jabbar see no harm in Mr Aouragh's site. "As long as he doesn't sell sex toys or those sorts of things there is no problem," he said, adding: the Prophet Mohammad gave lots of advice about sex in marriage and "there need not be any shame."


Dutch prisons use psychics to help prisoners contact the dead

Dutch prisons are using psychics to give jailed criminals guidance by putting them in touch with their dead relatives. Paul van Bree, a self-styled "paragnost" or clairvoyant, has been hired by the Dutch prison service to teach prisoners how to "love themselves". "I tell them that dead relatives are doing well and that they love them. That brings them peace. Big strong men burst into tears," he said.

Mr van Bree, who also publishes annual predictions of the future, claims to be from a long line of clairvoyants, including his mother and grandmother. The Dutch paranormal, who describes himself as the "happy Buddha" told De Tijd magazine that he is not the only psychic healer employed by the Dutch justice ministry. He has claimed that by talking to both the prisoner and the prisoner's dead parents he can discover key psychological insights to help the prison authorities rehabilitate criminals.

"With my antennae I sometimes reveal more than a psychologist or a prison welfare officer," he said. "My work can be compared to mental health care in widest sense of the words." A spokesman for the Dutch justice ministry said: "This is not something which fits in our treatment field." The Dutch employment service has also looked beyond the normal to use "regression therapy" and tarot cards to help the jobless. Uncooperative welfare claimants have been told they will lose benefits unless they accept the guidance of a regression therapist to help them get in touch with their past lives.

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