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🖼️ How to restore a $160m painting
June 9, 2022
Read to the end for a Netflix throwback and short-necked giraffes.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but a recent case takes it a bit far. Athleta, Gap’s sportswear brand for women, is suing Danish athleisure brand Athlecia for trademark infringement, arguing its similar name and logo cause confusion for consumers.
In today’s email:
Art heist: How to restore a $160m painting.
Chart: Will Netflix buy Roku?
Crypto winter: Coinbasejob applicants are feeling the chill.
Around the web: How to clean your phone, short-necked giraffes, a game of intrigue, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet discuss an unusual art theft, a bit of Netflix history, and whether square dancing is more useful than financial ed for high schoolers.
The big idea
The bizarre return of a stolen $160m painting
In November 1985, an unknown man and woman entered the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA) in Tucson.
She distracted a security guard while he cut Willem de Kooning’s Woman-Ochre from its frame and tucked it under his clothes.
The oil painting disappeared for the next 32 years.
De Kooning’s work is valuable
Woman-Ochre, part of the Dutch-American expressionist’s Woman series, was worth $400k when donated to the museum in 1958. Today, it’s worth~$160m.
In 2016, entertainment mogul David Geffen sold de Kooning’s Interchange to hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin for $300m, then the highest price ever paid for a painting.
But experts say famous art is hard to fence. And as James Ratcliffe — director of stolen art database Art Loss Register — toldNBC News, “You can’t put it on your wall.”
Or can you?
In 2017, an antique store paid $2k for items from the estate of a deceased couple in Cliff, New Mexico. Among them was Woman-Ochre.
Clues point to Jerry and Rita Alter, two retired teachers, stealing the painting while visiting relatives, then hanging it on their bedroom wall until they died.
Why? No one knows, but Jerry Alter once wrote a story about a woman and her granddaughter who steal and hide an emerald where only they can see it.
There, an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scan — a nondestructive test to determine an object’s chemistry — revealed which pigments and materials de Kooning used.
Used a microscope to reattach areas where paint had lifted or flaked
Removed the varnishes
Filled in lost paint with reversible conservation pigments (which can be removed if needed)
Reunited the painting with its cut canvas
Woman-Ochre is currently on display at the Getty Museum, its first public exhibition since the heist, and will return to the UAMA this fall.
BTW: If this story fascinated you, the Alters are the subject of the 2022 documentary The Thief Collector.
Housing halt: Demand for mortgages hit its lowest point in 22 years last week due to rising interest rates and declining home sales. For reference, mortgage applications and refinancing demand were down 21% and 75% YoY, respectively.
Going down: Crypto trading app BlockFi is raising a “down-round,” in which it will solicit new funds at a lower valuation of $1B. The company was valued at $5B+ last year.
New look: TikTok launched Avatars, a feature that lets users upload videos of animated versions of themselves, much like Bitmojis.
Voting power: Shopify’s board approved a 10-to-1 stock split, and passed a motion giving CEO Tobi Lutke 40%+ of voting rights under certain conditions. The move went against advice from two advisory firms.
Hold up: Sounds like the shared scooter resurgence is hitting a speed bump. According to an internal memo, Bird, a major player in the space, is planning to lay off 23% of its staff.
Sober bars are back: Trendster Chris Marshall is launching his second Sans Bar in Texas next year. Read the Trends article for details on the rebounding trend.
J.M. Smucker may lose $125m over the Jif peanut butter recall, triggered by salmonella infections linked to a Kentucky facility. #ecommerce-retail
Mazda pledged carbon-neutral factories by 2035, and a carbon-neutral supply chain by 2050. Yet, it will still sell combustion vehicles. #clean-energy
Nothing, which launched wireless earbuds in 2021, will announce its first smartphone next month. It’ll feature transparent design elements with light strips on the back. #emerging-tech
Salesforce announced NFT Cloud, a platform to help its clients mint, manage, buy, and sell crypto assets. #fintech-crypto
One charger to rule them all: A new EU law requires that all electronic devices support a standard USB-C charger. (Looking at you, Apple.) #big-tech
Is Netflix about to buy a product it spun off in 2007?
Yesterday, rumors flew of an impending Netflix acquisition of Roku.
Roku’s ad business made $647m in Q1 revenue, and it’s looking cheap with the stock down 55% this year. Though unlikely, buying Roku would give Netflix immediate access to lucrative ad products it could integrate.
But what about Roku’s physical devices?
Oh, right. Roku also makes actual TVs and streaming boxes, meaning Netflix would potentially be entering the hardware game, a space it almost certainly finds unappealing.
But back in December 2007, Netflix nearly did just that.
The company was weeks away from launching its own Roku box — code-named “Griffin” — with Roku founder Anthony Woods leading the development.
Prices were decided, ads were shot, and an internal spoof video titled “The Griffin Initiative” was even filmed, depicting Netflix employees playing “Pong”to a narrator saying, “Product managers… used highly evolved scientific processes…”
Abruptly, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings yanked the device and spun off the company, convinced it would complicate relationships with other hardware makers.
Almost 15 years later, barring some recent volatility, it seems like that was a rather wise decision.
10 glorious Google Sheets templates
Take our word for it — great Google Sheets help teams get sh*t done…
… and have gorgeous viewports into unsightly reams of data, which makes work a little less daunting. Tidy templates are just gratifying in that way.
Here are 10 of them. These ready-to-use spreadsheets are made to aid entrepreneurs, small-to-mid-sized businesses, and jack-of-all-trades marketing operators.
Templates for organization and planning:
Blog editorial calendar
Marketing budget template
Paid media template
Competitive analysis template
Email marketing planning template
On-page SEO template
Sales and customer service metric calculators
If this is your start to a new type of structure, we’re stoked for you.
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