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Copies of Famous Artworks Replace Ads on Tehran Billboards

In an unusual move by Tehran's mayor, hundreds of copies of famous artworks — both of world masters and Iranian artists — have been plastered on some 1,500 billboards across the city, transforming the Iranian capital into a gigantic, open-air exhibition.

The 10-day project, which ends Friday, has stirred both appreciation and criticism. But whether people like it or not, the message is simple, according to Ehsun Fathipour.

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U.N., Arab Officials Seek to Counter Jihadist Threat to Monuments

U.N. and Arab officials began a two-day conference on Wednesday to seek ways to combat the "unprecedented" destruction of heritage sites by jihadist groups in the Middle East.

The Cairo conference comes amid an international outcry after the jihadist Islamic State group circulated a video last month showing its militants bulldozing the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq.

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Japan City Defends UNESCO Listing Plan for Kamikaze Letters

The mayor of a Japanese city that wants to register letters written by World War II kamikaze pilots as important global heritage, on Wednesday defended the plan, despite criticism it was glorifying war.

The city of Minami-Kyushu last year filed an unsuccessful application to include farewell letters written by the suicide fighters on a United Nations world memory list.

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Peacock Room Reimagined in Ruins at Washington Museum

An over-the-top re imagination of 19th century American-born artist James Whistler's iconic Peacock Room is going on display in the Washington museum that is home to the original.

"Filthy Lucre" is painter Darren Waterston's take on the artist's tortured relationship with his patron, shipping tycoon Frederick Leyland, who commissioned him in 1876 to create the Peacock Room in his London home to show off his Chinese porcelain collection.

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Burmese Ruby Sells for Record $30 mn at Auction

A 25.59 carat "pigeon blood" ruby sold for a world record $30.33 million at auction in Geneva Tuesday while a rare pink diamond believed to have once belonged to Napoleon's niece fetched $15.9 million, Sotheby's said.

After competitive bidding, the ruby went to an anonymous telephone bidder for 26.25 million Swiss francs (27.3 million euros), with costs.

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Rothko Painting Sells for $46.5 Million in NY Auction

A Mark Rothko painting sold for $46.5 million Tuesday at a Sotheby's auction in New York, an evening in which several records were set including one for a work by German artist Sigmar Polke.

The Rothko work "Untitled, (Yellow and Blue)", measuring 2.42 meters by 1.86 meters (about eight feet by 6.1 feet) and completed in 1954, had been estimated at between $40 and $60 million.

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UNESCO Condemns 'Severe' Bombing Damage to Sanaa Old Town

The United Nations cultural agency on Tuesday condemned "severe damage" caused to heritage sites in Yemen, such as Sanaa's old city, during intense bombing of the rebel-held capital.

"I condemn these destructions and I call on all parties to keep cultural heritage out of the conflict," said UNESCO director general Irina Bokova.

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European Rights Watchdog: Intersex People Must Choose Own Gender

Intersex children, or those born with characteristics of both sexes, must not be subjected to "normalization" surgery without their consent, the Council of Europe said Tuesday.

The human rights organisation also urged states to stop classifying people under the male-female binary.

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Picasso Sets $179 Million Auction Record in New York

A Picasso masterpiece and a Giacometti statue smashed world records Monday for the most expensive art sold at auction, fetching more than $179 million and $141 million respectively in New York.

Pablo Picasso oil painting, "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)," sold for $179,365,000 after 11 and a half minutes of furious bidding from four to five prospective buyers at Christie's, where two auction rooms were packed.

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Black Miss Japan Fights for Race Revolution

Ariana Miyamoto entered the Miss Universe Japan beauty contest after a mixed-race friend committed suicide. And she endured abuse after winning the crown because of her skin colour.

Far from being put off by the backlash, Miyamoto resolved to use her new-found fame to help fight racial prejudice -- in much the same way British supermodel Naomi Campbell broke down cultural barriers in the fashion industry a generation ago.

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