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New Tests May Settle Debate over Disputed Vermeer

Verily, it's a Vermeer.

Christie's auction house says science has confirmed that a disputed painting is the work of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. The painting could fetch 8 million pounds ($13 million) when it is sold next month.

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Lawsuit Challenges North Dakota Gay Marriage Ban

Seven couples have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage in North Dakota, making it the last state in the country with a ban to be sued by gay couples seeking the right to wed in their home state.

Also on Friday, a federal judge struck down Wisconsin's ban, ruling it was unconstitutional.

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Modigliani Painting Sells at Auction for 13.5 mn Euros

A painting by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani sold at an auction in Paris Wednesday for 13.5 million euros ($18.3 million), a record for the artist's work in France, auction house Sotheby's announced.

The portrait of his main patron Paul Alexandre done in 1911-1912 had up to now been in the hands of Alexandre's family and was estimated at between five and eight million euros.

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Venice Architecture Fest Tackles 'Painful' Modernity

Star designer Rem Koolhaas said Thursday that adapting to architectural modernity can be a "painful process", as he prepared to unveil the program for Venice's architecture Biennale.

The Dutch designer is curating this year's program, which will look back over the past 100 years of innovation.

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Publisher of JK Rowling, Colbert Announces Layoffs

J.K. Rowling's publisher is laying off some employees amid a dispute with the industry's biggest book seller. Hachette Book Group cites a "changing marketplace" for layoffs that will affect less than 3 percent of its staff.

Hachette also publishes Stephenie Meyer, Stephen Colbert and other authors. It released a statement Thursday saying staff reductions were necessary for it to improve "resilience" in difficult times.

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Report: Chinese Trousers May be World's Oldest

Two pairs of 3,300-year-old trousers found in China's far western Xinjiang region may be the world's oldest, state-media reported Friday.

Archeologists in May found animal-fur menswear on the bodies of two mummies, identified as male shamans in their 40s, the state-run China Daily cited scientists as saying.

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Language Barrier Cuts between Iraq's Arabs and Kurds

Ask younger Iraqi Kurds if they speak Arabic, and they often say no, or not well -- a linguistic barrier with the country's Arabs stemming from a nationalist backlash against Saddam Hussein's brutality.

Most Iraqi Arabs do not speak Kurdish either, meaning some members of the country's two largest ethnic groups have no common language.

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Last of Original Group of Navajo Code Talkers Dies

The last of the 29 Navajos who developed a code that stumped the Japanese during World War II has died.

Chester Nez, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Wednesday morning of kidney failure, said Judy Avila, who helped Nez write his memoirs. He was 93.

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Swiss Museum to Vet Gurlitt Inheritance

The Swiss museum designated as the sole heir of German collector Cornelius Gurlitt's trove of priceless art says it plans to vet the collection first before deciding whether to accept it.

Gurlitt died last month, two years after German authorities seized more than 1,000 artworks from his Munich apartment. Some of the items — including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall — may have been looted from Jewish owners under Nazi rule.

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Imagine All the Artwork: Lennon Trove at Auction

Original drawings and poems created by John Lennon for his acclaimed books "In His Own Write" and "A Spaniard in the Works" will go on the auction block.

The books' British publisher, Tom Maschler, has owned the material for a half century and is offering it for sale at Sotheby's on Wednesday. It is the largest private collection of the Beatle's work to come to the market, the auction house said, and prices range from $500 to $70,000.

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