News and notes from around the world
BERLIN • In a dingy pedestrian tunnel in central Berlin, a graffiti artist is hurriedly adding the finishing touches to a large, stylized tag: “Tschüss,” the informal German word for “goodbye.” As he paints, a 70-year-old woman named Gertrude Baum enters the tunnel on her way home from the grocery store.
“Guten tag,” says Baum cheerily, apparently unfazed that her neighbor and fellow senior citizen Klaus Sollich is lurking in the dim light with a can of spray paint in his hand. But then, elderly graffiti artists have become a relatively common sight in Berlin over the past few years.
Sollich is a graduate of the Senior Street Art project, an ongoing series of workshops aimed at a demographic not generally known for edgy, risk-taking artistic impulses.
In his 70s, he is one of the program’s more junior alums—there are artists up to age 85 tagging Berlin’s public spaces (so far, no senior street artist has been observed doing this anywhere other than in what Sollich calls “prearranged designated areas”).
The project was founded in 2005 by local artist Stephanie Hanna, who saw it as a way to express the idea that graffiti “is an accepted genre now.” Also, she says, “the courses are a kind of regressive therapy, reinvigorating these older people and getting them in touch with their primal creativity.”
For Sollich, whose work will be part of an upcoming exhibit, the main benefit of the six-week course is that it got him out of the house. “I’ve met more people in the past three months than in the past three years,” he says. “These are an entirely different world of people I would never have met before.” —CRAIG STEPHENS
LOS ANGELES • Poor Evander Holyfield. Having lost part of his ear during the 1997 “Bite Fight” with Mike Tyson, the former WBA heavyweight champion has since lost the bulk of his personal fortune, too. On Nov. 30, Holyfield will put 500 items up for sale at L.A.-based auction house Julien’s. “We’re estimating $2 million to $3 million, but it could do a lot more,” says president and CEO Darren Julien. “This is every significant item from his career.”
The sale lots will range from the banal (hand wraps) to the irreplaceable (title rings)—with the only important artifact not on offer being one slightly nibbled ear lobe. “Yeah, somebody picked that up out of the ring,” says Julien. “It’s one of the few things that are in private hands.” —CHRIS WRIGHT
Number of times in a lifetime that a sale like this comes up (according to promotional material): 1
Year that Holyfield won the Olympic bronze medal being auctioned: 1984
Weight, in pounds, of a 1984 Olympic bronze medal: .26
Value of that same medal as scrap metal: ≈$1
Price of a limited-edition Holyfield auction catalog: $75
Price of the same catalog if signed by Holyfield: $250
Recent asking price on eBay for a glove signed by Holyfield: $65
Price paid for the trunks Muhammad Ali wore in his 1971 “Fight of the Century” with Joe Frazier (a record for boxing memorabilia): $173,102
Amount that Holyfield is estimated to have earned during his career: $250 million
Amount that Mike Tyson was fined for biting Holyfield’s ear: $3 million
Amount that a New York commodities trader is estimated to have paid for the lobe: $18,000-$30,000