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Major Russian Show Explores Lenin, Stalin Personality Cult

Lenin's trademark flat cap and Stalin's collection of pipes are among the memorabilia on show as Russia's main historical museum opens up its long-hidden archive of once-revered relics of the Soviet leaders.

The exhibition at the State Historical Museum off Red Square shows around 1,000 objects glorifying Lenin and Stalin -- including portraits, posters and gifts from factory collectives -- as well as their personal possessions and even death masks.

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Home to Great Art in Unexpected Places

Winslow Homers in the shadow of a defunct Beech-Nut baby food plant. A Rembrandt, Picasso, Rubens and Renoir up the hill from a paper mill. The founder of the Hudson River School vying for attention amid baseball memorabilia and old farm machinery.

There are plenty of treasures to be found among the collections of lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path art museums dotting upstate New York. But they're well worth the trek for anyone looking for great art in unexpected places, whether it's the rolling, bucolic countryside typical of many areas or the industrial grittiness of riverside mill towns.

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Monet's 'Water Lilies' Auctioned in NY for $27M

A Claude Monet painting out of the public eye for decades sold Tuesday for just over $27 million, leading the bidding at an auction of art from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, businessman Edgar Bronfman and other major collectors.

"Water Lilies," Monet's 1907 rendition of his beloved garden in Giverny, France, went to an undisclosed Asian buyer in the season-opening auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's. The painting, part of Clark's collection since 1930, has not been publicly exhibited since 1926.

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Vatican has Shown 'Total Commitment' in Anti-Abuse Fight

The Vatican on Tuesday said it had shown its mettle in the battle against child sex abuse by priests, telling a U.N. hearing that it was determined to stamp out the scourge.

"Any serious look at the reality around the world on what the Holy See and the local Churches are doing shows clearly and without ambiguity that certainly there is no climate of impunity," the Holy See's U.N. envoy Monsignor Silvano Tomasi said.

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Migration Steals Magic from China's Mountain Shamans

A Chinese shaman resplendent in a dark suit and green cloth hat thumbed yellowing pages said to predict the future -- but mass migration to cities means the prospects for his own profession look bleak. 

"To see a spirit, you have to practice the ancient rituals," said Zhao Fucheng, 74, who claims he communicates with the spirit world from his wooden hut in southwestern Guangxi province. 

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Christie's Says No Plans to Hold Auctions in Iran

Auction house Christie's on Tuesday denied reports that it was negotiating with Iran to hold sales in the Islamic republic.

Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Culture Minister Ali Janati as saying negotiations with Christie's were under way to organize auctions at Iran's Gulf resort Kish Island.

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Florence Says Michelangelo's Weak Ankles Holding Up

Florence's museums authority on Tuesday played down the risk of Michelangelo's 500-year-old David statue falling down because of fractures in its ankles.

"Even if there is an earthquake of 5.0 or 5.5 on the Richter scale, Florence will stay in one piece. And David would be the last to fall," Marco Ferri, a spokesman for the authority, told Agence France Presse.

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Sotheby's Gives Loeb Board Seats, Avoiding Showdown

Sotheby's agreed Monday to appoint hedge fund activist Dan Loeb and two allies to its board, averting a shareholder vote over the direction of the prestigious fine art auctioneer.

A day before a contentious Loeb-pushed vote could have upended company management, Sotheby's bowed to pressure and agreed to appoint Loeb along with restructuring expert Harry Wilson and Olivier Reza, a renowned jeweler and former banker, to the board.

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Michael Cunningham Re-Imagines 'The Snow Queen'

"The Snow Queen" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), by Michael Cunningham

Like the Disney megahit "Frozen," Michael Cunningham's new novel is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Snow Queen."

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'Vagina Monologues' to Get New York Run in Spanish

Mexican actress Kate del Castillo is taking a star turn off-Broadway with a Spanish-language version of the "Vagina Monologues" in the same Westside Theater where Eve Ensler's work was presented in 1999.

Other Spanish-language works have been presented on the circuit, but the show opening Tuesday will be the first to play a full, if short New York season off-Broadway.

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